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September 17, 2007

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Siane

I don't have a problem with these particular comments, but this is hardly the first time for a presidential 'overshare': remember Bill Clinton being asked "boxers or briefs?" And both Nicolas Sarkozy and Vladimir Putin have posed shirtless recently (while on outdoorsy vacations), which seems like a more serious breach of decorum to me.

Allison

Siane-
Thanks for your comment. In terms of Sarkozy and Putin posing without shirts, I completely agree that it crosses a line of decorum. However since the blogs are pretty short here, I was just focusing on one area (involving American candidates) where I've seen this loose lipped trend of politicians who are offering personal information about themselves or their spouses. In terms of the Bill Clinton scenario, at least in that case someone asked him what was under his pants, unlike Edwards who announced to the reporter on his own about his aching buttocks! Bill Clinton, of course, crossed the decorum line in far greater ways than answering an inappropriate question, but for whatever it's worth, I'm sure he never wanted anyone to know about his Lewinsky affair. With Edwards and Michelle Obama however, we have people offering unsolicited personal information and I think they're doing it for political gain, to seem more like our friends, and that is what bothered me about this trend. We don't need more friends, we need leaders that we can respect!

Sarah

I have to agree with Siane, I don't really see anything wrong with what was said by the candidates (or for Obama, his wife). Specifically for the Edwards comment, I've done RAGBRAI, and frankly you're butt does get sore, especially if you aren't use to it. Edwards is riding with a load of other cyclists who have gone through this, so he's just simply asking if it normal.

As for Obama, I see where his wife is coming from. She doesn't want people to glorify him and thinks they should realize that he's just the same as everyone else. We tend to forget that sometimes...

Emily

Whoa, gross! I'm glad I've never come across these pictures of a shirtless Putin! The mental image I got while reading it is bad enough! Mercifully nothing springs to mind in reference to Sarkozy; my subconscious just won't do that to me, and for that I'm grateful.

In defence of Mrs Obama, she hasn't ACTUALLY mentioned Mr O's bathroom habits, surely? His sock-sloppiness fairly inoffensive, albeit certainly irrelevant to his suitability to the role of president. There has been a lot of 'deifying' of her husband, not necessarily warranted. But you're right, I can't imagine, say, Eleanor Roosevelt jawing about FDR's personal habits or even feeling she had to TRY to bring him down to the level of 'he's just a regular schlub, really!' in order to make people comfortable with him. Funnily enough though Bush Jnr has very often foregrounded a 'just an average guy' persona in order to ingratiate himself.

Beth

Frankly, I really didn't need to know that Mr. Obama's kids think he stinks in the morning. It won't affect how I vote, but I just didn't need to know. And it's really cheesy that any politician thinks sharing poignant and pointed details of his upbringing or personal habits thinks that's going to make me like him. If they want to sway my vote, they can talk and act intelligently.

Jeannine

Well said Allison, great post. Dignity and respect are signs of leadership. Unfortunately, we have both the female and male Clinton to thank for reigning in that trend of banal conversations to the candidate circuit. They were the ones to introduce the boxer/brief trend and all that came with it.

In Round I of the Clinton's, we already found out that their cheap jokey late night television banter has underlying seriousness. Surprisingly, the fact that Hillary's husband prefers cigar sex with younger women is, according to both of them, apparently just some kind of fun we're all supposed to dismiss readily.

Hillary and her hubby reigned in this era of cheap "come into house conversation" in a manner that, in comparison, makes Obama's sock comment sound like the height of oratory sophistication.

Hillary says in her book Living History that she never welcomes the question about why she doesn't divorce Bill, her intern chasing, sex addict husband. But she responds like a weak and servile wife, "No one understands me better and no one can make me laugh the way Bill does." Apparently her husband's sexual encounters with someone her daughters age is no deal breaker for Hillary. In fact, we're all suppposed to just laugh off disgrace and abuse. Not classy at all.

I guess, for Hillary, questions like "boxers or briefs" apparently just make her chuckle, because as we found out, with girls her daughters age, her husband would prefer neither. All of this creates a far more serious degradation of respect, both for herself and voters, than Obama admitting his socks stink. And Hillary's servile acceptance of disrespect is far more serious than Obama's snoring. At least Obama and his wife are with their children, not cracking jokes about repeated sexual infidelities with the young.

Yet it's all very clear: we've learned that cheap conversation early in the candidacy does not bode well for later.

When candidates attempt to show leadership by talking about their butt, indicates they might just they have their head up it. Yet that's the kind of humor that their lack of dignity brings on. Can't say I like it. It's tacky. Leadership should raise the standards for all of us. Not brings us all down the conversational cesspool of banal exchanges about nothingness. Boxers or briefs - or cigars anyone? There is an underlying degradation implied in it all. Really, folks, let's get some self-respect and expect our leaders to honor your dignity, your freedom, your intelligence and your hard work and expect them to treat their candidacy and their potential Presidency with respect.

Thank you Allison!

Emily

You're right Jeannine; if our leaders are so keen to embrace the lowest common denominator and make themselves indisinguishable from Joe (below-)Average... what then is the basis of their exaltation to leadership?

Caitlin

I agree completely with Allison's comment about needing respectable leaders rather than friends when it comes to choosing a president. It's such an example of too much information. I think the ability to share info with the entire world via the internet has seriously limited our sense of what ought to be kept private. Just because we CAN share something, doesn't necessarily mean we SHOULD.

Brendan Rau

I envy the French. I envy their tolerance toward Francois Mitterand. At his funeral, his wife and several mistresses stood in close proximity to each other, and no one raised a fuss. I'd love to see that kind of tolerance in the U.S.A.

Bill Clinton, a good president who balanced the national budget and presided over eight years of peace and prosperity, was impeached over consensual sex with an intern. What piffle!

Reagan should have been impeached for the Iran-Contra scandal, but he wasn't, because the scandal didn't have anything to do with sex. George W. should have been impeached for predicating his Brezhnevesque invasion of Iraq on lies, but hey, that didn't have anything to do with sex, either.

Get over your damned prudery! It's sexist, annoying, and it isn't good for our country.

Gila

Wow, "Get over your damned prudery" in the very same sentence as an admiration of the "tolerance" of the French. And he probably sleeps at night too and never gives a thought to the contradictions lurking within.

Emily

While I love the french language, I have never envied french women- the tolerance of french society to men's infidelity seems to keep them in a very competitive, insecure place emotionally.

Emily

Brendan you might also like to google Mazarine Pingeot and decide whether having to be 'a secret' for most of her life really benefited her.

Marlene

After reading many of these comments, I have to say that, unfortunately, this thought process discussed stems from the promiscuity and breakdown of the parent/child relationship thanks to Dr. Spock all those years ago. It all began when parents decided to be their children's friend instead of their father or mother. It's a slippery slope...now our leaders want to be equal to the lowest denominator instead of the highest. They want the rest of us to look down at them instead of looking up to them. To quote one of the best authors, Dr. Suess, "What a shame! What a shame! What a shame!"

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