Thursday, December 18, 2008

That Sound You Hear Is My Head Hitting My Desk. Repeatedly.

Why are cover letters so goddamned difficult to write? How does one submit a piece of writing and sell said writing without sounding like a complete buffoon who starts all sentences "I am" and copies the setup to the cover letter wholesale from the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market?? Down to the journal sent to in the sample? How does one then avoid them thinking, "how lovely, she, like the other trillion people in our pile here, pulled us from this book?" When really, the thing is, I Encapsulate What You're Looking For, people!

Anyway, do we have any thoughts about this Rick Warren inauguration brouhaha? I'm trying to check my biases in favor of Obama, in that he's oh so like me, but I've really become a pragmatist, focused on the actual concrete results. So, while I may find someone's views odious, if my options are to either (1) give this person a moment in the sun that doesn't affect policy (sowing good will with his more mainstream, less odious followers and marginalizing the leaders whose views are even more odious, at least in the sense that to bigotry, they add global-warming denial) or (2) having them affect actual policy, I'll go with option 1. You can neutralize the more-odious (see above) and build coalitions for other endeavors (like combating global warming). I'm inclined to suck it up and trust Obama's sophisticated view of long-term strategy.

Juan Williams didn't fail to disappoint me on this topic on NPR this morning, though! In his usual, unique way, he managed to bring up the "black and hispanic support" for Proposition 8 in opposition to gays. Splintered coalition! Oh, the humanity! If only we could reassure the normal white people amid all this chaos.


Toby said...

Yes, I'm inclined to go with it on this one and not see this an some sort of sign for how policy will go, but then, I'm not a gay person looking to get married.

I think that Obama has definitely shown himself to be a pragmatist, but with an overall strategy. Clinton was a pragmatist without an overall strategy. So, it will be interesting to see if that helps the Obama administration fare better in its first year than the Clinton admin.

Laura said...

Oh, I think there's no way he cannot be more effective. They've learned from past mistakes of the Clinton administration--bringing in the competence, regardless of folks' post positions/ideology. If you're a strong leader, you're setting the agenda and employing team players. That's been his m.o. from the start, and I think people routinely underestimate him.

Anyway, the long-term strategy is really amazing to behold. It's a whole set of skills you don't see too much in politics, which is largely focused on moment-by-moment tacking for political advantage.

And as an intellectual exercise, I like to flip this around: say Bush had pulled in a lefty civil rights religious figure for his ceremony. The likely interpretation: Bush was pulling some fast-one, using the lefty, a sucker, for cover. When it's Obama, he's the weak friend- maker, about to get steamrolled. I think Democrats are in the eternal, defensive, don't-hit-me crouch and can't contemplate a position of power and direction of the agenda.