Sunday, January 02, 2005

W won by outsmarting his opponents: Aristotle understood why

Daniel Goleman wrote a 1995 bestseller Emotional Intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ. The preface is titled: "Aristotle's Challenge", and it includes a citation from Aristotle to the effect that any fool can get angry--but to get angry at the right time for the right reason and in the right way takes intelligence. If you want to understand how W outsmarted Al Gore, John Kerry, and a whole bunch of other people, Goleman is the place to start.

In a nutshell: W probably never read Goleman, but he never needed to--Gore and Kerry needed to read Goleman but probably didn't.

1. We know that Gore had good SAT scores, substantially better than W's. But Gore dropped out of Vanderbilt Divinity school with bad grades while Dubya graduated from Harvard Business School. More to the point: after every debate with Dubya most Americans said Gore won the debate--and after every debate W's poll ratings went up. W knew how to connect with voters, and Gore didn't--which in the end left W with just enough votes to eke out an electoral vote win. In the line of one wag: Gore failed divinity school, journalism school, and finally the electoral college.

2. Less well-known is that W seems to have outscored Kerry on the military intelligence tests--and done substantially better than Kerry on leadership qualities. St Paul laid down rule 1 for leadership: if the trumpet sound an uncertain call, who will prepare for battle? Whether one agreed or disagreed with President Bush, he sounded a clear and consistent message about promoting democracy in order to defeat terrorism. As for Senator Kerry: his position on Iraq shifted from week to week with his "I voted for it before I voted against it" as the signature line of his campaign. The 2004 exit polls were damning: When asked whether they trusted George Bush to handle terrorism, a plurality of voters in every state said yes; when asked whether they trusted John Kerry to handle terrorism, the only two states with a plurality of voters saying yes were Massachusetts and Maryland.

3. UK newspapers lamented after 2 Nov 2004 over how dumb the Americans were to re-elect Dubya. For a good definition of dumb, one might look at the UK Guardian's crusade to change minds in Ohio. First, it doesn't seem to have occurred to the self-styled intellectuals at the Guardian that Ohioans might resent foreign interference in the election. Second, the articles that the Guardian posted to change the minds of Ohio voters were, well, brain-dead. Case in point was the University of Oxford's Richard Dawkins, famous evolutionist and brilliant writer: he told Ohioans that while assasinating Bush wasn't yet justifiable, democratic expulsion was. Dawkins' letter was a perfect illustration of the Goleman/Aristotle point: Dawkins would register high in IQ, but near-zero on emotional intelligence--as would Dawkins' editors at the Guardian.

4. Michael Moore. Author of Stupid White Men. Moore was certainly right about at least one white man: Moore can take a good share of the credit for electing Bush twice. In 2000, he campaigned in Florida for Ralph Nader. Oops. In 2004, he contributed Fahrenheit 9/11. His star turn in Jimmy Carter's presidential box during the Democratic 2004 convention was a visual highlight: Kerry got the smallest bounce out of his convention of any Democratic nominee since George McGovern in 1972.

5. The Washington Democratic leadership. They turned out en masse for Fahrenheit 9/11, and gave it standing ovation. The result: the Democrats lose more Senate seats. Question: why did Democratic party leaders think they could cheer a movie in which Moore likens Iraqi terrorists to the Minutemen?

6. Michael Barone wrote an election wrap-up column under the general theme: Love is stronger than Hate. The Democrats--and much of the world press--launched a hate campaign of massive proportions against President Bush with Fahrenheit 9/11 as perhaps the most vicious attack ever made against a sitting president. That campaign failed. As Patrick Ruffini has pointed out: the 10 states with the biggest percentage increase in voter turnout all voted for W. And more: Bush voters overwhelmingly said their vote was a vote for the president, rather than merely a vote against Senator Kerry.

Bush-hatred failed the basic Aristotelian test of knowing how to get angry and when and why. It's one of many ways that President Bush outsmarted his adversaries.

3 Comments:

At Sunday, 09 January, 2005, Blogger Grumsalot said...

I can sum up the Bush win in two word: PR phenomenon. Dubya has lobbying groups. He has power. Because of him, the nation's biggest corporations do not pay taxes. Because of this, because big business relies on him for tax exemption, he holds them in his hand. Big corporations fund the media. So if Bush has big corporations, and corporations have the media, and the media has us, then Bush actually holds the American people in the palm of his hand.

I stand to benefit from stem cell research. I was almost swayed to become a Bushie when I heard that he had 64 lines ready for research. This was great! So I go on to www.FactCheck.org to make sure I didn't mishear, but sure enough... There's only 20. Sure, there are 64 lines that 'exist,' but they're contaminated, dead, or simply unresearchable. Oh, maybe they'll be useful someday, but it sure would of been nice if he had said that? But why didn't the media help? Why didn't they put it in to context? I shouldn't have to answer that again.

 
At Sunday, 09 January, 2005, Blogger Grumsalot said...

I can sum up the Bush win in two word: PR phenomenon. Dubya has lobbying groups. He has power. Because of him, the nation's biggest corporations do not pay taxes. Because of this, because big business relies on him for tax exemption, he holds them in his hand. Big corporations fund the media. So if Bush has big corporations, and corporations have the media, and the media has us, then Bush actually holds the American people in the palm of his hand.

I stand to benefit from stem cell research. I was almost swayed to become a Bushie when I heard that he had 64 lines ready for research. This was great! So I go on to www.FactCheck.org to make sure I didn't mishear, but sure enough... There's only 20. Sure, there are 64 lines that 'exist,' but they're contaminated, dead, or simply unresearchable. Oh, maybe they'll be useful someday, but it sure would of been nice if he had said that? But why didn't the media help? Why didn't they put it in to context? I shouldn't have to answer that again.

 
At Monday, 10 January, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to try to get out soon a long post on the 20o4 election, and why Bush won. In a nutshell: 1) presidential elections with an incumbent are largely a referendum on the economic performance of the incumbent over the previous year. Dubya came in towards the low-end of the projections based on previous year's GNP growth, but he didn't miss by much. The biggest factor in Bush's re-election was strong GNP growth over the last year. 2) Bush was hurt by Iraq, but not decisively: a small plurality agreed that the decision was correct. JFK had little success convincing those who thought the war was correct to think that he would do a better job leading it. 3) "Values" do seem to have played a role, but it's not easy to identify how much: Bush also saw an increase in his support among voters who never go to church and identify themselves as "no religion".

 

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