by AndrewMc | 12/04/2009 12:01:00 PM
I have the feeling that the country is on the edge of historic health care reform that will fundamentally transform the nation, moving us forward in ways that we can't quite envision.

Either that, or we're in for Epic Fail.


Anyone else tired of the Obama/LBJ comparisons? Follow me.



The "Obama-as-LBJ" meme is getting an amazing amount of play in the press, although it started literally the day before the election. And continued right after.

But here's a truncated list:

NPR: LBJ Arm-Twisting? Not Really Obama's Style

"Noted Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin [who couldn't possibly have an LBJ-o-philiac horse in the race, right?]": Doris Kearns Goodwin Wants "More LBJ" From Obama When Dealing With Congress

Op-Ed News: "Obama's LBJ Moment"

The American Spectator: "Obama's LBJ Syndrome"

CNN: "Five Questions for Obama on Afghan War"

That doesn't even count the blogosphere, where LBJ-Obama comparisons grow like weeds in spring. It's amazing. And it's an awful comparison for a number of reasons. Heck, even the American Spectator made the point.

Let me say that I understand why reporters like it: it's easy. It takes very little effort to make the connection, because you don't need to do any research whatsoever. You can easily, and unthinkingly equate elements of major events in both administrations:

Afghanistan? Easy! It's just like Vietnam! Large war with native insurgency, no clear strategy for victory, corrupt local puppet government, growing cadre of anti-war groups.

Health Care Reform? Easy! Just like the Great Society programs! Trying to bring health care to more people who can't afford it.

Except it is, of course, not that easy. And I'm not sure that the situation is made any better by the historians advising him, many of whom came of age in the Vietnam anti-war movement during LBJ's presidency. And many of whom have authored books on LBJ, or served on his staff.

I'm gonna get in big trouble for saying this, I'm sure, but more than any other generation, people who grew up in the 1960s have a much greater tendency to see the world through the lens of their own experiences, and to see the 1960s as one of the seminal periods in American history. I disagree, but then again I'm a colonialist. [Obama as Hamilton? as Gibbon? as François Quesnay? Those would require some work, and a populace educated enough to move past their 8th-grade history texts.].

The oversimplification is maddening, disingenuous, and lends a relevance to a time period that may not, in fact, be all that important in this case. Does it hold lessons for us? Yes, of course. Should it be central to our understanding of Afghanistan and health care and financial reform, and all the other things we need to accomplish? I don't think so.

By linking Obama so closely with LBJ in the public mind, we might be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Anyway, that's my ramble on the subject. Once again, I refer to a wonderful piece "Who Owns the Sixties," which appeared in the old magazine Lingua Franca, which highlights the struggle of historians, and by extension the United States, to get out from under the long shadow of that era.



I taught kindergarten for a while. If I was to teach anywhere but college, this would be it.



Faculty governance is important, even the little things. The number of arguments I've had with administrators here over what "faculty representation" means on a committee. "Faculty Representation" means "someone picked by the duly elected representative body of the faculty [ie. the Faculty Senate], not "someone handpicked by the administration" [ie. some tool who's going to agree with whatever the President wants. It may sound like a small issue, but if administrations want their initiatives to be taken seriously, there has to be true faculty representation.




This is a bit worrisome.




Sanity prevails at Hofstra.

After a comprehensive review, the Board of Trustees has, at my recommendation, voted unanimously to eliminate our intercollegiate football program in order to redirect those resources toward academic initiatives and need-based scholarships.


I love college football. But for some schools it's just not right.




Beer of the week? Yes, Samuel Adams. But no, not the regular Sam Adams Boston Lager in the blue-label bottle that, while good, is now just an ordinary beer.

Instead, I'm thinking of some of the more radical beers that they produce. The picture at left is of the Sam Adams Triple Bock, which came in a small 8 oz. bottle and was produced in the 1990s. This is a gigantic, robust beer with an absolutely astonishing taste. I still have about six or eight of these, and I have about one a year. It's like sipping brandy.

Or, go for a Millennium, a bottle of which sold for nearly $5000 at a charity auction [not to me, unfortunately]. Sam Adams brewed the Millennium for the Y2K celebrations, and only made 3000 bottles of it. You can still find them occasionally on eBay, where they go for about $1000. The style of beer insures that it will store and age for about 10 years. It's a 40-proof beer, so you'll only need one.

You could also try a Utopia, a 25% abv beer. They go for a few hundred a bottle, last I checked.

Closer to a normal price range is the Sam Adams Chocolate Bock, which sells in many liquor and grocery stores. It's got a very rich flavor. For a beer that I'd agree is only "decent" it is a bit pricey.

Or, simply go for one of the many, many "normal" beers they make.





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