But what would Jubal Harshaw say?

Apparently, Obama’s gotten himself into hot water with some in the Blogosphere this afternoon by saying, regarding former presidents, "I have spoken to all of them that are living," but, " I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances."

Reports Katharine Seelye with the NYT:

Update | 3:23 p.m.
Mr. Obama is finding out just how much words matter when you’re the
president-elect — while he was extra cautious about everything he said
about the economy, careful of not influencing the financial markets, he
may have been a little flip in his reference to Nancy Reagan’s seances.
The blogosphere is already discussing whether he was being
disrespectful to the former First Lady.

Sheesh. Personally, I thought it was funny. And when’s the last time the president (or president-elect) said anything funny?

This brings us to one of my favorite instances of life imitating art. Some 30 years after Stranger In A Strange Land was written, we learned that the scenario it created — in which the most powerful man on Earth was guided by his wife, who was in turn guided by her astrologist — had actually happened during the Reagan administration.

And poor Robert Heinlein didn’t get to see it. But he knew, up there among the Old Ones.

All of which makes me wonder: What would Jubal Harshaw have to say about this? I sort of think he’d like Obama, although he wouldn’t admit it. He’d probably say something like, "I hope he’s just a scoundrel . . . because a saint can stir up ten times as much mischief as a scoundrel."

43 thoughts on “But what would Jubal Harshaw say?

  1. slugger

    “I have spoken to all of them that are living,” but, ” I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.”
    The fact that Obama made such a remark about a former first lady goes to how you were raised and breeding. A gentleman would never make such a remark except in chosen company (which this was certainly not the case).
    Just so that I make myself clear. This has nothing to do with the color of his skin but much to do about having manners of a gentleman.

  2. Phillip

    Hmmm…all the comments already about just the Chief of Staff pick…(how exhausted will be by the time we get to the Secretary of Agriculture pick?)…now the wave of comments I’m sure you’ll get about the “seance” comment…(because of course that is the really important thing that the press conference was about)…etc. etc.
    Brad, would you like to maybe reconsider your opinion that there would be more anger expressed out there if Obama had lost than if McCain had lost?
    These are going to be four very exhausting years. I fully expect you to receive many comments blasting whatever choice Obama makes in regard to the puppy, too.

  3. Brad Warthen

    I think he should go with an establishment figure for Secretary of Agriculture. My preference would be Oliver Wendell Douglas.

    And Mr. Haney as Fed Chairman.

    Seriously, though, Phillip — look around you. The right is fairly quiet this week. The people who are jubilant are the ones who would have been shrieking had they lost.

    Republicans never liked McCain, and they were split over Palin. But more that that, we had an expectations game — Democrats had been expecting all year to win, so their shock and horror at losing would have been an awful thing to behold.

    Add to that the fact that they had been working up a good mad for eight years, and the country is fortunate that Obama won, because we’ve been spared almost unimaginable acrimony.

  4. Tim

    As a right-wing conservative and newly minted racist by Michelle and Alicia, I have to say that I thought the comment was kinda funny as well. I honestly don’t think there was any ill-intent there. Haven’t actually heard the audio, but read several news items on it. It was a joke for goodness sake, don’t be so uptight. Slugger, I agree with you most of the time, but I probably wouldn’t be considered a gentleman in your eyes on this one.
    Still doesn’t mean that I like Obama as president-elect, though…

  5. slugger

    Just wanted to add to the blog an article by Walter Williams. I am sure that you can find the entire article and read it for yourself. I took that off of the Wrisley.com website.
    Subject: Emailing: Walter Williams.htm
    It is incorrect to say that laissez-faire or free markets are unregulated. There is ruthless regulation, but it’s not by government. Take the mortgage industry. In the absence of government interference, it is unlikely that a lender would extend a mortgage to a person with a poor credit history, making no down payment, and providing no verifiable employment history. But under the pressure of the government’s Community Reinvestment Act and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buying up or guaranteeing such mortgages, a lender will.
    When businesses make unwise decisions that lead to bankruptcy, their assets are sold off to someone else who might be able to put them to wiser use. Government bailouts give businesses a reprieve that the market wouldn’t give them. Bailouts have at least two effects. They permit continued unwise use of resources and it creates what economists call moral hazard, the expectation of future bailouts and others hopping on the bailout wagon.
    The blame for our current financial mess rests with government, with the major player being the Federal Reserve Board keeping interest rates artificially low and the congressional and White House market interference in the name of more home ownership. In the clamor for more regulation over our financial institutions, has anybody bothered to ask whether people in government know what they’re doing?

  6. slugger

    Every word and every comment that comes out of the mouth of Obama should be made public so that the citizens of the United States of America can evaluate the comments independent of the media bias.
    The media did a job to get Obama elected. There is definitely media bias.
    I feel that the printed word and the heard word that comes from TV shoud reflect all aspects of any candidate running for any office. That was certainly not the case of Obama. The media (except for talk radio)_withheld pertaintent information concerning Obama that the people wanted to know. No investigation was done by the printed word or the TV programming to clear up questions that were needed information to the electoriate.
    We have elected a president that we actually know nothing about except what the media wants us to know.
    Is there going to any investigation into all the things that Lee Muller has brought out about the background of Obama? If we, the people, are going to have confidence in our newly elected president, we need to have answers to all questions concerning his birth and background. Otherwise, we have an administration in office making decisions that concern not only our future but the future of our children. Let the sunshine in. We deserve the truth because we are paying the bills.

  7. Brad Warthen

    OK, let’s scrutinize his words.

    The president-elect also called himself a "mutt" today:

    As for the dog,
    he recognizes it’s a major issue, saying it has generated more interest
    on his Web site than anything. He says he has two criteria that may not
    be reconcilable: His older daughter, Malia, is allergic to dogs, so the
    dog has to be hypoallergenic; at the same time, “our preference would
    be to get a shelter dog, but obviously a lot of shelter dogs are mutts
    like me.”

    That brought a laugh…

    That should settle the issue as to whether Obama is a "real American." Real Americans not only love mutts, but are mutts. To quote that quintessential patriotic American John Winger:

    … We’re Americans, with a capital A, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re underdogs, we’re mutts! Here’s proof: his nose is cold. But there’s no animal that’s more faithful, that’s more loyal, more lovable than the mutt. Who saw "Old Yeller?" Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end? Nobody cried when Old Yeller got shot? (hands are reluctantly raised) I cried my eyes out. So we’re all dog faces, we’re all very, very different…

    That’s the fact, Jack. Here’s the video.

  8. p.m.

    The self-effacing mutt comment was nifty, but the seances misstep made me angry.
    Here we have a president-elect holding his first press conference, and he throws mud at the widow of the president whose smooth transition into office he’s trying to emulate.
    How much more tactless can you get?
    Furthermore, Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer, not a medium. Hillary Clinton was actually the first lady linked to having conversations with the dead.
    Had Sarah Palin made such a mistake, Brad would have led the trek to the woods to chop the wood to make the cross for her crucifixion. But when it’s humor at the expense of a president he never liked, he just finds it funny.
    Obama’s the president-elect, Warthen, not a comedian on SNL or a candidate anymore. The campaign is over. He can no longer afford to make fun of Republicans, no matter how much Lindsay Graham kisses up to him.
    And, you, vice president of McClatchy’s great Columbia whore, should realize that.

  9. p.m.

    Yeah, Phillip, like calling Nancy Reagan makes up for making a insensitive fool of himself (and her) in front of millions of people.
    A public apology, not just by a staffer, would be appropriate.

  10. Rich

    Barack’s comment about Nancy Reagan and his earlier remark about the guns and Bibles of conservative rustics do indeed give us a glimpse of what he is thinking about the Republicans and their base.
    It’s a point of view I would almost certainly share.
    Were it not for our constitutional structure favoring rural states in the Senate and that unjustifiable anachronism called the Electoral College, fundamentalists, yahoos, Joe the Plumber, and the low-information demographic would sink into a well-deserved obscurity.
    Brad opines that, had not Barack won we would have descended into political acrimony, is right on the money. I personally would have been bitter since I see our constitutional order as being fundamentally out of whack with what America really is–a moderately liberal nation with a laissez-faire attitude toward almost everything. This is supposed to be the land of the free, not a theocratic rogue state like Iran.
    At school, I noted a real rejection among some of my minority white students of the very idea of a black president. This bothers the crap out of me and I work gently to get them to see that this could be a new, higher level in race relations in this country.
    Indeed, Obama embodies America as almost no other politician does; he is, in his own words, a “mutt.” And if that isn’t America, I don’t know what is.
    My basic point here, however, is that this country is NOT an essentially conservative nation, but rather a libertarian (small L) nation with a live-and-let-live, optimistic, and free-enterprise orientation. Americans make money, live the American dream, go to football games on Friday night to support the local high-school team, and then wake up on Saturday mornings to clean house, spend time with family, shop, play ball, and just enjoy lounging on the couch with a bag of chips while watching TV.
    We lack the ideological fervor of John Hagee or the sheer idiocy and lack of taste of Sarah Palin and the Christian Right.
    BTW, a more democratic constitution in this country would result in the further marginalization of S.C. from national politics–and deservedly so. Either S.C. and, of course the State NewsRag, would either get with the program and modernize their outlook, or they would forever be condemned to a well-deserved obscurity as a pretty backwater–great for tourists (like Alaska), but otherwise politically risible and of no national consequence.

  11. p.m.

    Obama’s comment was classless, Rich, so I should have expected you would jump on board.
    The thought of you teaching high school really scares me. Half what you profess simply isn’t true. You see the other half through a jaundiced eye. And I bet you preach class warfare at your students just like you preach it here.
    Your feelings for your “minority white students” really run deep, I can tell.
    The Electoral College saves us from people like you — those who would vote the money of those who work hard to earn it into the pockets of those who think prosperity is a birthright, an idea that’s anything but libertarian and nothing but liberal.
    Should Obama turns out to be the latest example of the Peter Principle, something today’s news conference seemed to predict, here’s hoping your students never let you forget it.
    The insensitivity the supposed bipartisan’s remark showed really is remarkable.

  12. Ozzie

    It is amazing how people are prepared to cut some slack for political folks with whom they more or less agree. If they are not on the same side of the aisle, then nothing they say or do is interpreted positively.
    I’m really glad that I don’t go to the same church with some of you people.
    I can’t help but feel that two-thirds of the people on this blog are angry most of the time.

  13. Tim

    My gosh, my fellow conservatives need to take a breather. It was a JOKE. And you know what makes jokes funny is that there is a kernel of truth in them. Nancy Reagan did have a seance scandal back in the White House. You may have a point if he hadn’t been joking about the whole mutt thing too, but Obama was obviously in a jovial spirit.
    And Rich, please let me know if you ever move to Lexington District 1. Based on your comments I’ve got to imagine that your classes are more about indoctrination than actually teaching. I don’t mind my children hearing other viewpoints, in fact I encourage it. But the way you belittle and condemn anyone who doesn’t hold your view is unbecoming of an educator in a high school. College perhaps, but not high school.

  14. david

    These classless comments are but a small token of what is to come.
    Obama won. Election results have consequences. In order to learn, we need to live for four years with the consequences of our choice:
    -He made some clumsy comments about Nancy Reagan; well get ready. He has absolutely zero experience as a leader and accomplished diplomat – he will say many foolish and dangerous things in the near future which will have much more grave and serious impacts than a diss of Nancy. He’s just getting started.
    -He intends to be intensely and fiercely partisan in implementing his virulent strain of socialism in the next four years. His choice of bitter partisan Rahm Immanual as his CoS proves it. No surprise that our senior senator likes that. He’s a predictable idiot, if nothing else.
    -For Ohio and Pennsylvania, your support for Obama may very well mean essentially the destruction of the coal industry, and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. Good. Nothing teaches like pain, and decisions have consequences.
    -Added to the tremendous folly of cap and trade, Obamas’ impending wholesale nationalization of huge portions of the economy will almost certainly guarantee that energy prices and costs for heathcare, among many others, will skyrocket.
    Huge increases in the scope of government at home and diplomatic ineptitude/no leadership abroad in a dangerous world will soon make Obamas’ diss of Mrs. Reagan seem small potatoes indeed.

  15. Michelle

    David I’ve got news for you, the Republicans don’t get to pick who Obama chooses for his cabinet and White House staff. I know, I know, it seems really unfair (to you) that it doesn’t work that way but to the victor come the rewards, no?
    And the Nancy Reagan remark was funny for one reason: it was true. The woman consulted psychics, astrologers, and God knows who or what else while she was in the White House. Does anyone else here want to argue the facts on that score? No, I didn’t think so. I bet it burns some of y’all up he called to apologize to her. What will you talk about for the next 24-hours? Oh well, I’m sure Lee will be along shortly to throw out some red meat for the true believers of the GOP to mull over. And if that doesn’t keep you interested, you might want to read the articles today in the State on where the right went wrong in this election and how they’ll keep losing if they don’t say good bye to the right-wing fundies in the party and move on into the 21st Century with the rest of us.

  16. p.m.

    No, Michelle, the Reagan seances remark wasn’t true. Astrologers don’t consult the dead. It was Hillary Clinton who used a medium an an attempt to channel Eleanor Roosevelt.
    So, yes, I want to argue the facts on that score. All you have to do to find out the actual truth is read the AP story on Obama’s press conference. Here’s betting you won’t bother.

  17. david

    Michelle, what got your knickers in a twist? I said not a word in Nancy Reagans’ defense.
    I did not attempt to make the case that republicans get to make Obamas’ cabinet selections either.
    So I don’t know what the hell you’re all foamed up about, but as an American citizen who’s going to have to live under this joker and his inept/dangerous socialist regime for the next four years, I reserve the right to comment and express my opinions as often and as harshly as I see fit.
    Whether you like it or not.

  18. faust

    And by the way Michelle, since I mentioned defending Nancy Reagan in response to your lunatic rant, let me just ask you a simple question:
    What does it say about the mentality and character of a man who’s just been elected to occupy the single most powerful position on the planet, that he would take a disrespectful and completely gratuitous swipe at a harmless ninety year old woman who has never said a word about Obama to my knowledge? And he did it at almost the very first chance he got to say anything at all. He could have chosen to speak about anything, and he takes that golden opportunity and squanders it in pettiness and immaturity.
    Whatever liberal rant you may come up with in his defense, this episode brings a few choice words to my mind:
    PETTY. Small minded. Consumed with hatred for any conservative, anywhere, of any generation and regardless of accomplishment. Immature. Unfit. Scary.
    There are a few that come to my mind.

  19. faustd

    And lest the obvious point be lost on a hopeless liberal, it should be pointed out that Obama did not even have the courage or wit to aim his petty, gratuitous litlle insult at Ronald Reagan. Nope. This nimrod had to hit hit the girl. And wasn’t even her presidency or conservative policies Obama has a problem. Still, he hits the girl.
    Say whatever you want to defend him. I am absolutely convinced this is a form of Freudian slip that gives us an insight into this jokers’ character. This is a petty little man.

  20. john mccain

    I have to tell you. Sen. Obama is a decent person and a person you don’t have to be scared of as president of the United States.

  21. cannibalkid

    Actually, I have some great news for you. Robert Heinlein DID know about the Reagan astrologist!
    From “Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader’s Companion” by Heinlein scholar James Gifford:
    [According to Virginia Heinlein] “Heinlein was aware of (and amused by) the situation and its parallels in the week before his death.” (page 188)
    The book goes on to mention the May 10, 1988 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle has both a write-up of the Reagan astrologist and a Heinlein obituary on the same page!
    Anyways, hope this knowledge brightened your day a bit.

  22. david

    The séance/astrologist business is fur around the hole. The Reagans had an astrologist, Hillary Clinton channeled some dead first lady or other and Bill boffed the interns. All of this discussion arises from getting ones’ eyes off the ball.
    To me the issue is whether or not Obama is fit for the office to which he’s been elected. Is he going to be “presidential” and conduct himself in a way that indicates he intends to be a transcendent leader? The right man for perilous times, who is willing put the pettiness of politics and partisan bickering aside?
    Based just on what he’s done (Rahm Immanuel for CoS) and said (hit the girl), I’d say nope.
    This is going to be Bill Clinton on acid. No sex in the Oval Office, but no restraint from the legislative branch either. Pure, unbridled liberalism.

  23. faust

    Anyone who doesn’t believe my assertions about the pettiness, narcissism and unbridled hubris of Barak Obama should go an look for themselves at the YouTube clip of the press conference in which Obama beats up the ninety year old woman.
    You will see this moron standing behind a podium upon the front of which is placed this huge, elaborate presidential looking seal bearing the inscription: “The Office of the President Elect.”
    What an ego. This single artifact of self-worship tells me absolutely everything I need to know about what the next four years will look like.

  24. p.m.

    Behold the new Nixon, whose poolside chair was labeled “Mr. President” on the back but the rest of his family’s chairs bore their first names.

  25. Lee Muller

    All the Obama supporters are lining up with their hands out, demanding this giant welfare program and that one:
    – socialized medicine
    – forgiveness for defaulting on student loans
    – massive construction projects
    – cash handouts to his constituency as “middle class stimulus package” of $150 BILLION
    – more money for Medicare and Medicaid, whose spending now is 30% fraud and 30% administration
    – more foreign aid to African dictators

  26. Phillip

    This is a fascinating map showing all the counties where John McCain ran better than George W. Bush had in 2004, with a clear discernable pattern among those counties going WAY more for McCain in 2008 than Bush 2004.
    As Matt Yglesias sarcastically puts it, “You can see why John McCain’s principled stand against higher taxes on the wealthy would have a special resonance in this region. Liberals who thought race had something to do with those appeals should be ashamed of themselves.”

  27. Phillip

    I should also add that I’m especially proud that, according to that map, in almost no counties in SC did McCain run as well as Bush 2004, in spite of still winning the state.

  28. p.m.

    So McCain did better than Bush all over Arkansas, in a lot of Oklahoma, in most of Louisiana including New Orleans, in northern Georgia and all over Tennessee.
    But not all over the Deep South.
    I’m missing your point, Phillip. If race was the issue, why didn’t the whole Confederacy vote against Obama more decisively than it voted for Bush?
    Try this statistic, sir: Obama got just 44 percent of the white vote nationwide.
    Spread your inferred blame across the country, sir. Forty-four percent of America’s white voters don’t live in Arkansas, Tennessee et al, or, I’d be willing to be, even in all the red states combined.
    You won. Be happy. Live up to it.

  29. bud

    Now we have REVERSE politically correct ranting. It’s funny how when a GOP icon such as Nancy Reagan is made fun of it’s all about manners. Yet if someone wants to call a black person “colored” it’s all of sudden called being politically incorrect. The hypocricy of the right knows no bounds. Besides, Nancy Reagan did make a fool of herself with her seance nonsense.
    Having said all that Obama should not have said what he did. It was pretty immature.

  30. Lee Muller

    How about when a black person refers to a half-white person as “colored” – is that okay?
    Or when Bill Clinton is caught on camera calling a journalist of African descent, “that lousy n—-r”?
    Or a so-called “black leader” complains that, “Obama is not one of use, because he has no slave blood.”

  31. p.m.

    I haven’t heard anyone called “colored” lately, particularly not here.
    But, ironically, “people of color” seems to be acceptable for almost anyone to say.
    Manners, political correctness, potato, potatoe, it’s all good.
    When’s my check coming in the mail? I need some Gamecock repellent.

  32. p.m.

    “Besides, Nancy Reagan did make a fool of herself with her seance nonsense.” – bud
    No, she didn’t. She consulted an astrologer. Astrologers don’t hold seances. If you’re going to hold somebody up to ridicule, have some clue what the cause for your ridicule is.
    Obama had it WRONG. Repeating his mistake doesn’t make you right.

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