Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Obama, safety net, security on January 22, 2013 |
President Obama made a key social science claim in his second inaugural address. He said, “the commitments we make to each other–through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security [and presumably through other parts of the welfare state, too]–these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
This passage includes a put-down of Mitt Romney’s controversial campaign comment that 47% of Americans supported Obama because they were dependent “takers.” (See an earlier post on the 47% comment.) More fundamentally, Obama’s statement asserts that government-provided security does not undermine individuals’ entrepreneurial spirit, but instead bolsters that spirit. An interesting – and controversial – hypothesis.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Obama, race, voting on October 16, 2012 |
Barack Obama has run his presidential races with an extra weight on his shoulders: being black. Sure, there are some pundits who claim that he benefits from his race – black loyalty, white guilt, and such – but serious scholars understand that his race has been, in net, a notable disadvantage. My rough sense from looking at some of the political science analyses of the 2008 campaign is that he may have gained about 1 percent in the final vote by garnering more black support than a white Democrat would have gotten, but that he lost about 5 percent of the vote by getting less white support than a white Democrat would have gotten – for a net minus of about four. Four points in a presidential race is a lot.
As an historical matter, it is striking that Obama’s racial penalty has not been higher. As a political matter, the question of whether the penalty will still be that high in 2012 may make all the difference in who wins the White House. Or maybe, one study suggests, the penalty might be even higher.
(The picture here, by the way, is from a 2009 study showing that the less favorable on-line respondents were to Obama, the more likely they were to pick the darkened picture of him as the accurate one.)
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged fundamentalism, Obama, Roosevelt on March 12, 2012 |
The heated controversies around President Obama – the questioned birth certificate, the supposed Muslim connections, his seeming foreignness – have generated more than a whiff of fire and brimstone. Snopes.com, the website devoted to fact-checking common rumors, felt compelled in 2011 to fact-check whether the president was the antichrist. They decided he was not.
The concern on the religious right about a president’s satanic connections is not new. Historian Matthew Avery Sutton, in the Journal of American History (here; and podcast) describes the rise of similar suspicions about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s. Given the events of the day, the suspicion probably fit FDR better then than it does Obama today. Sutton also argues that the connection that developed in the 1930s between millennialism – anticipating the End Times – and politics lay the groundwork for today’s religious right militancy.
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