July 9, 2009

A Tale of the 9's: Polling Against the Current

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,  
Life is but an empty dream!  
For the soul is dead that slumbers,  
And things are not what they seem.

-- Longfellow

Rasmussen Presidential Approval Ratings since the Inauguration taken on the 9's of the month:
01/22/2009 +30
02/09/2009 +14
03/09/2009 +6
04/09/2009 +5
05/09/2009 +7
06/09/2009 +8
07/09/2009 -8

Interesting that on 6/9 it stood at +8 and now one month later it stands at -8.

But what, you ask... what, Uncle Gerard, does it mean?

What does it mean? As one Johnny Worthington says when you google "It don't mean shit,"

"Seriously... It don't mean shit... It's all in the marinade and spices bitches!!!"

A colorful man that Johnny Worthington, who seems to be a fellow off in Brisbane, Australia more than half in love with beer, but he does have a clue to the strange world of the polling universe.

Much is being made today of the Magic -8 Ball of the Rasmussen poll numbers. And indeed reading the Rasmussen auguries is a welcome break from the all consuming news of the last week which is as Morgan reminds us "This is becoming a rather silly month news-wise, isn’t it? Everything’s either “Michael Jackson is still dead” or “Why Palin Quit." But as we learn in the Book of Worthington,

1) It don't mean shit, and
2) It's all in the marinade and spices bitches!!!

That's a concise summation that could be applied easily to the reactions to the Rasmussen Poll today. Looking about the blogs and the news sites, there are two sides to the poll. One group of Pinhead Pundits sticks in their thumbs, pull out a plum, and says, "Yum, tastes of hopeful change to Hope-N-Change." The opposing group of Pinhead Pundits eyes the simmering pot of Poll and find it as appetizing as poi. "Not to our taste, frankly, although we adore that bronzed surfer god from Hawaii still."

Few, very few, will note with Worthington's sage and sober tone: "It don't mean shit... It's all in the marinade and spices bitches!!!"

Once upon a time, in a Seattle universe far, far away, I was at a bar having drinks with a friend waiting for a show to begin and one of his sons to show up. My friend and I are such good friends that we have made a quiet deal, long ago, not to discuss politics since we sit in the same room but in different universes. His sons are not in on the deal, nor should they be. When his son did show up, he walked in, looked us in the eye, raised a glass and toasted, "Hey, down to a 26% approval rating!" This was, of course, a reference to the source of all things evil in his universe at that time and since, George W. Bush.

I nodded but politely did not raise my glass to join their joy. Why? Because I knew, though I did not say, "It don't mean shit... It's all in the marinade and spices bitches!!!"

And as it was then, so it is now. In six months, Obama will still be pursuing his White Whale and looking to get the great ship of state sunk.

In a year he'll still be launching the boats and rowing out on his personal quest started decades ago in a dorm room -- or during a summer vacation in Pakistan -- or in ghost writing session with his mysterious biographer in Bali.

Polls will not change the Obama plan one whit. It's his mission, his shot at walking the heaving decks of the Pequod as it tosses on the waves of history. That which is missing in Obama was bitten off long ago in the shadows. It doesn't matter to Obama if he has to destroy the ship while thumping around the captain's tower on a peg-leg carved from the ivory of the whale. He's used to it.

Obama is our Ahab off on his life's voyage to kill the whale and he'll still be at the helm years out. His "numbers" will bother him less than they bothered Bush, because his sense of historic mission is decades deeper than Bush's sense. Bush's sense of mission was born on 9/11, but Obama's was born at some unknowable moment in his strange abandoned childhood. Perhaps in a room in Hawaii drinking with that state's most esteemed leftist poet and pornographer. Perhaps in college bull sessions. Perhaps in some palace or hovel in Pakistan. We cannot know. Obama himself may not know, or may not choose to remember.

What we do know is that this is a man with a mission that has morphed from adolescent yearnings into a towering obsession worthy of an Ahab. Mere polling numbers will not deflect him from pursuing the hated and yet compelling White Whale of America; an America that at some point in the past maimed him for life. As Ahab announces on the deck of the Pequod when speaking of Moby Dick:

He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me.

Falling polls mean nothing to this man, less than nothing. If anything they only push him to move faster until he can turn the Ship of State into that

rushing Pequod, freighted with savages, and laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac commander’s soul.

So spare me the polling ups and downs over the next few years, and talk to me of the "spices and marinade." We've made our choice and the captain is mad, much more mad than any ever saw in "The Madness of King George." It's going to be a Nantucket Sleighride and you'd better hang on. The best you can hope for is not to say in the years to come:

“And I only am escaped alone to tell thee” -- Job.

Posted by Vanderleun at July 9, 2009 9:49 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

It is interesting that Ahab also had a knack for making "major speeches" just before striking out after an ill-fated goal.

Posted by: Milwaukee Mike at July 9, 2009 11:13 AM

You're always good for a pleasant read, Gerard.

Ahab. That's a new one. I like it. I really do. You might be right, too.

Posted by: Eric Blair at July 9, 2009 11:50 AM

Moby Dick is fiction. In the real story, the whale won.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Posted by: Salt Lick at July 9, 2009 12:21 PM

Early on in the 2008 portion of the campaign marathon I developed the nagging suspicion that the Obamas were out to punish us, with our official permission.

Posted by: Roderick Reilly at July 9, 2009 1:47 PM

Ahab the Arab, the sheik of the burning sands.

Posted by: Fat Man at July 9, 2009 2:52 PM

Obama must chuckle to himself every time Axelrod pads off to the press room to release a statement on how 2010 is going to be roses for the Democrat party.

Ax, it was never about party. And it sure as hell was NEVER about reelection.

It took more than two hundred years to get here. But having a Barak Obama arrive in this office in these times with the Congress we have...

Might as well have invited Hannibal Lechter to a camp out and handed him a butcher knife and some Tabasco before every body turned in.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 9, 2009 5:00 PM

An insightful literary analogy.

As the lamented Dr. Sanity has explained, Obama is a selfless narcissist. As I would say, he'll do everything conceivable to help the people, no matter how many actual persons he has to hurt or kill along the way. (For instance, "Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.") That his policies might actually be deleterious would not, then, seem to be relevant to him -- so long as he gets to live his own life quite comfortably, that is.

Posted by: ELC at July 9, 2009 6:18 PM

Oh yeah. You've got it.
Obama as Ahab.
Watch the Jib Jab again.
That's a harpoon he's thrusting into the heart of democracy as he struts atop the U.S. Capitol.

Posted by: Cathy at July 9, 2009 8:25 PM

Thought provoking post, as usual. It's scary to have a President with "daddy issues". A mature adult, such as Bush, is, policy differences aside, whom we want to have in that role. Someone who can focus on the external world, and not be pulled hither and thither by his own internal problems.

By his own admission Obama is a man with rage problems and clearly the deep anger caused by being deserted twice by fathers has been subsumed into a hatred for America, under the malign guidance of Ayers and Wright.

Posted by: Brett_McS at July 9, 2009 9:58 PM

TmjUtah, I wouldn't understimate Obama's chances of two terms ... with four years for Acorn to weave its magic.

Posted by: Brett_McS at July 9, 2009 10:01 PM

A Lenin or Hitler sees himself bringing the utopia all the way home.

Western Leftists are a much more lazy lot; they satisfy themselves with thinking they know what is supposed to happen after the establishment is destroyed.

That was what the Verona messages spelled out - get the Western useful idiots hooked on destruction but don't go into too much detail on outcomes.

So they hack away, a generation at a time. Hear that creaking?

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 10, 2009 8:50 PM