Teams > Individuals

Who will win the 2020 Democratic Primary? Who will win the 2020 General Election? In the (dis)United States we seemingly think one person can make all the difference. That there’s one person with the exact right proposals for improving health care, establishing an environmental ethic, strengthening frayed ties with allies, reducing gun violence, and revitalizing our infrastructure.

Due to our intense individualism and the incontrovertible fact that uniquely talented individuals sometimes make disproportionate impacts on institutions and organizations, when it comes to getting things done, we almost always underestimate the importance of teams.

The Trump Administration’s list of accomplishments is short not because of mean “Do Nothing Dems”, but because Trump has settled for a constantly revolving door of increasingly acquiescent men and women of questionable qualifications. We’ve travelled a fair distance from Lincoln’s Team of Rivals.

If we were more savvy, we’d expect the Democratic Candidates for President to have already named their Vice-Presidents so that we would have longer to evaluate the relative quality of their teaming. We’d even go further and require them to name possible other members of their respective cabinets. Our questions would not be limited to what the Presidential Candidate hopes to accomplish, but how likely are their VP and them to team well together? How well do they complement one another? Instead of expecting them to come up with policy panaceas, we should expect them to convince us that they’ll team better with Congressional leaders to pass meaningful legislation than their opponents.

One might protest that Vice-Presidents sometimes come from the consolation bracket of the Presidential Primary. A much earlier expectation would simply require some with Presidential ambitions to decide whether to hitch their wagon to another more likely winner of the Primary.

Many of us resisting Trumpism are hopeful that the person who wins the 2020 Democratic Primary will right the ship, but she won’t. By herself. She’ll need a similarly skilled Vice-President and Cabinet. The sooner we can get a feel for that small group, the better our decision-making, and the greater the likelihood that we turn the chapter on this dystopian novel.

Okay Boomer

Tyler Cowen, ‘Ok Boomer’ Phrase Says More About The Kids Than Us’.

“My biggest worry about “OK Boomer” is the generational stereotyping it embodies. It wouldn’t be acceptable to baldly criticize older people simply for being old. So why is it OK to use a circumlocution that does the same thing? “You old fogeys don’t have a clue” is perhaps a more direct translation of the phrase, and I am not sure that the ostensibly greater politeness of “OK Boomer” is a virtue.”

From one 1962-er to another, cry me a river. I like Cowen, but can’t help but wonder if he even saw the original vid. The dude deserved everything he’s got. And if there’s some collateral damage, c’est la vie.

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President Twit

An incredibly exhaustive examination of the President’s 11,000 (and counting) tweets. What is there to add? Sometimes a chart is worth a 1,000 words.

No. of tweets …

that

5,889

attacked someone or something

4,876

praised someone or something

2,405

attacked Democrats

2,065

attacked investigations

2,026

praised President Trump

1,710

promoted conspiracy theories

1,308

attacked news organizations

851

attacked minority groups

758

praised or promoted Fox News and other conservative media

570

attacked immigrants

453

attacked previous presidential administrations

417

conducted presidential business on Twitter

256

attacked Hillary Clinton

233

attacked ally nations

183

bragged about crowd size and applause

132

praised dictators

95

referred to a Trump business

40

promoted voter fraud conspiracy theories

36

called the news media the “enemy of the people”

16

referred to himself as everyone’s “favorite” president

Tweets from Jan. 20, 2017 to Oct. 15, 2019.

A Friendship You’ve Had That Would Surprise

Last week’s Demo debate ended with this set up and question from Anderson Cooper:

“Last week, Ellen DeGeneres was criticized after she and former president George W. Bush were seen laughing together at a football game. Ellen defended their friendship, saying, ‘We’re all different, and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay.’ So in that spirit, we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impact it’s had on you and your beliefs.”

I thought it was great, in part because no one could’ve prepared for it. Poor Julián Castro for having to bat lead off. He kept swinging wildly, and missing badly, seemingly thinking, “If I just keep talking, maybe I’ll eventually utter something coherent.” But it wasn’t to be, he couldn’t come up with a single name.

Andrew Wang talked about a trucker he spent a few hours with as a part of a recent political event. Not someone he’d ever talked to before or is likely to ever talk to again, thus failing to earn even partial credit.

Amazing, not one true friend markedly different than them.

Buttigieg ran circles around those two and most of the others. He noted that the people he’d learned the most from were friends he’d made in the military:

“People who were radically different from me—different generation, different race, different politics—and we learned to trust each other with our lives.”

Then Buttigieg pivoted and called for national service, a worthwhile proposal deserving of discussion. One argument in support of it? The probability that future candidates’ answers to a “surprising friend” like question will be far more compelling.

 

Quotes of the Week

Steve Kerr on being singled out by the President of the (dis)United States:

“I realize the horse was out of the barn a long time on this. But for me personally, this was my experience with, wow, has the office sunken low. My hope is that we can find a mature unifier from either party to sit in that chair and try to restore some dignity to the Oval Office again, and I think it will happen.”

Randi Mayem Singer on Twitter where she has changed her name to Randi Great and Unmatched Wisdom Singer:

“BREAKING: The president is refusing to be impeached on grounds that if he were impeached, then he would be impeached.”

Ruth Whippman in a New York Times essay, “Enough Leaning In. Let’s Tell Men to Lean Out.”

“So perhaps instead of nagging women to scramble to meet the male standard, we should instead be training men and boys to aspire to women’s cultural norms, and selling those norms to men as both default and desirable. To be more deferential. To reflect and listen and apologize where an apology is due (and if unsure, to err on the side of a superfluous sorry than an absent one). To aim for modesty and humility and cooperation rather than blowhard arrogance.”

The backlash in the comments from Whippman’s male readers speaks volumes about the validity and importance of her insight.