A rare political comment….

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. But when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.


About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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27 Responses to A rare political comment….

  1. fpb says:

    For the love of Heaven do not put too much hope into a politician, however impressive. You are setting yourself up to have your heart broken. “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the sons of men, in whom there is no help.” I find Obama a striking and intelligent person, but I think the Messianic hopes placed in him are stuff that Washington and Lincoln and Garibaldi and Clemenceau incarnate and united could not fulfil. A man’s powers, let alone a President’s, are limited. You are setting yourself up for disappointment and despair.

    • JE says:

      We aren’t going to get along if you put words in my mouth and then patronize me for how wrong they are. I said nothing about a messiah, nor would I ever in this context.

      If you don’t know what I mean (it seems from your comment that you don’t): fifty years ago a man like Obama would have had trouble casting a vote in many parts of this country. Now he has a real shot at the presidency. As someone who has lived through most of that time, I have a right to be pleased that my country has changed in this important and positive way.

      Also, Republican rule in the USA has demonstrably and disastrously failed, but the Democrats (accomplices in most of those failures) seem to have been unable to do anything about it. To hope that things might be changing in that regard is not unreasonable; the country was competently governed within fairly recent memory. (Nor it is it blasphemy to hope; consider what you are asserting.)

      On a more trivial level: it is also a matter of some satisfaction to me to be able to cast my vote for someone who can put a sentence together and deliver it with a certain impact. Imagine voting for John Kerry (as I did) or many another inept Democratic pol and you may get a sense of what I mean.

      • peadarog says:

        On a more trivial level: it is also a matter of some satisfaction to me to be able to cast my vote for someone who can put a sentence together and deliver it with a certain impact.

        My first experience of that was when I started voting Green. What a relief it was!

        • JE says:

          Yes indeed. In the category of crazy hopes: I’m hoping that US politicians of all stripes will be compelled by the Darwinian pressure of competition to sound less boring and stupid on the stump. But that’s sort of like the supersonic zeppelin I’ve been tinkering with in my basement; I don’t expect to see any results soon.

        • Like peadarog (as far as I can tell), I have issues with both major parties, and I think it’s too bad that only one of them will win. I can’t really say that one is worse than the other, either. Also I really don’t care what race or sex the president or VP is, or how good they look on TV or whether they can talk well (intelligent people don’t have to be good public speakers). But I understand why it’s a big deal if a non-white or non-male gets elected, as hopefully it’ll lead to a future of more people not caring!

          For that reason I’m very happy that we’re set up to have our first woman or black president or VP.

          Now if they can just get the job done for a change. Which they won’t. I believe in equal opportunity to SCREW UP.

          • JE says:

            Well, some of the problems facing us are enormous–hard to see how anyone can solve them. But others aren’t rocket science. The nation can be put on a decent fiscal footing by not spending recklessly more than it takes in, for instance. This was done, by a not-altogether-friendly coalition of fiscally responsible Democrats and Republicans as recently as the 90s, so it’s completely possible. But sending the same crew back who presided over the current fiscal train wreck does not seem like a good idea.

            But I’m not trying to talk you around, just saying how I see it.

          • Not sure what you mean by “the same crew.” Was McCain part of that crew? Or do you mean the party in general, or something else?

          • JE says:

            I mean people who support so-called “supply-side” economics–this notion you can cut taxes, increase spending and everything will be fine. That’s been proven wrong in the laboratory of history twice now. I can respect someone (like George Voinovich, Republican Senator from Ohio) who thinks spending should be cut within revenue limits; also those guys who think revenue should be raised to cover expenses. In practical terms, we need both sets of people (fiscally responsible conservatives and liberals) in government so that some sort of sustainable compromise can be worked out. (Not that it necessarily will be: I totally agree with the “equal opportunity to SCREW UP” theory.)

            McCain could credibly claim to be a fiscally responsible person until the last few years, when he seemed to have some sort of supply-side conversion.

          • Ahh, I see … yeah, that’s something I haven’t given much thought to because I can never seem to see the patterns regarding taxes and spending. But compromise? Is that even possible? And now I’m back to my whole “people suck, I’m going home” mutterings. But at least I have a bunch of stuff to look up now. Thanks.

          • JE says:

            I know what you mean. Compromise may be possible, but that’s different from being likely, or even likely-ish.

      • fpb says:

        When I said “the Messianic hopes placed in Obama”, I did not say “by you”, so I put no words in your mouth. However, you cannot tell me that there is no collective hysteria in various areas about this man. I can appreciate the pleasure of having a candidate you do not have to be ashamed of (I said at the time that as Bush II was the best if not the only argument for Kerry, so Kerry was the main if not the only argument for Bush II), but remember that the hopes vested in politicians are rarely realized; and that not because they are wicked or even corrupt, but because “change” is an incredibly difficult thing to get right and easy to get wrong. As you tell me you experienced most of the last fifty years in American politics, I will just drop two words and let you think about them: Jimmy. Carter.

      • fpb says:

        Incidentally, talking about a “tree of life” is not Messianic? The only Tree of Life I know of stood on Mount Calvary.

        • JE says:

          The book of Proverbs is not a book of messianic prophecies, so “tree of life” is not messianic. It’s called a metaphor. (If you’re looking for more Biblical trees of life you might start with Genesis and work forward from there.) You should pick your position here, by the way: either you are or you are not accusing me of blasphemy.

          The “Obama Messiah” junk always but always comes from the Republican spin-machine which tries to make their opponents’ strengths into weaknesses. Democrats are right to be enthused about an energetic and popular candidate who has a real chance to bring the disastrous Bush Era to a close, irrespective of what his candidacy means about the transformation of this country. If you don’t get that, you don’t get it: it’s not a blasphemy or a sin. But it’s nothing to brag about, either.

          [edited for spelling]

          • fpb says:

            I AM NOT A REPUBLICAN. And my perception of the exaggerated enthusiasm about Obama comes from BBC reports – themselves ridiculously favourable. And the book of Proverbs, like the rest of the OT, certainly does contain prefigurations of the New Testament. If you are a Jew, you read it differently; but if you are a Christian, then the Hope that becomes the Tree of Life definitely should be read in the perspective of the One Hope of mortals.

          • JE says:

            You are pro-McCain, voicing your sympathy (in today’s entry) for McCain’s support of McCain’s candidacy for reasons that seem good to you. It is not coincidental that you are echoing the “Obama Messiah” junk that has been one of the principal talking points of the Republicans. Maybe you just don’t get it: hence your insistence of “exaggerated enthusiasm”–as if it were your place to decide how much enthusiasm people should show in their candidate of choice.

            The book of Proverbs is primarily concerned with practical advice, like incremental saving (Proverbs 13:11, right before the quote I used in my original entry). It’s not a book of messianic prophecies, no matter what religion one adheres to–and, no, as a Christian I do not have to read the book the way you (wrongly) do. I commend Proverbs 10:19 to your attention.

          • fpb says:

            And I suggest to you that you make a study of typology (and manners) before you inform me that my reading of the Bible (which is that of the Fathers and the Church) is wrong. You really do not seem willing to take into consideration the possibility that your behaviour and views could in any way be, I will not say mistaken, but even only partial and wanting. If the Republicans mock the wild enthusiasm roused by Obama, it is because it is a charge that will stick. There is enough evidence of it that even those of my friends and relatives who are implacably anti-Bush are finding it rather exaggerated. And let me explain to you something that you do not seem to have noticed: the more loudly, angrily and uncompromisingly you insist that there is nothing excessive or even enthusiastic about your reaction to Obama – Biblical verses and all – the less convincing and the less convinced you sound.

          • JE says:

            “my reading of the Bible (which is that of the Fathers and the Church)”

            Prove that (regarding Proverbs 13:12) and I’ll debate you on it. But your assertion needs to be backed up by evidence (not just more assertions). To my knowledge, no Pope has issued an encyclical on the subject (they tend to be a little broader in scope, eh?) and a recent Catholic translation of the Bible (Tyndale, 1996) left the “tree of life” image out of this passage altogether. I don’t think that means they don’t believe in Jesus.

            “If the Republicans mock the wild enthusiasm roused by Obama, it is because it is a charge that will stick.”

            The national Republican party’s technique for the past ten years has been to throw everything they can at their opponents and hope something sticks. Sometimes it does; sometimes it doesn’t. But the fact that the Republicans have chosen this line of attack doesn’t mark it as discriminating or shrewdly chosen. But if Obama’s supporters were showing less-than-expected enthusiasm, he would be attacked for that too.

            “And let me explain to you something that you do not seem to have noticed: the more loudly, angrily and uncompromisingly you insist that there is nothing excessive or even enthusiastic about your reaction to Obama – Biblical verses and all – the less convincing and the less convinced you sound.”

            I never denied being enthusiastic, so (for that and other reasons) this is just another poorly-stuffed strawman. As I said above, “We aren’t going to get along if you put words in my mouth and then patronize me for how wrong they are.”

            [edited for spelling]

          • fpb says:

            In other words: I am right, you are wrong, I am right, you are wrong. For my part, I have already had my share of exciting politicians who were going to clean up town. My warning was simply the natural reaction of someone who sees a friend heading for a disappointment. If you insist on reading it as offensive or insulting or whatever, it’s your own business.

          • JE says:

            “In other words:”

            If you can’t refute me using my words, you might want to consider why.

          • fpb says:

            I am NOT looking for a debate. If I was, as you very well know, you would be dealing with something far more intense. All I am telling you is: if by any chance, in four years’ time, you find yourself like the Democrats found themselves in 1980, or the Italian left in 1994 and more recently, I will claim the right to say “I told you so”. And since you have been so rude, I will not forsake said rights.

          • JE says:

            For my rudeness, you will tell me… what? That in 2008 the Democrats, the former party of segregation, did not nominate a black man for president? Then you’ll be telling me something that’s not true. Will you tell me that McCain would have been better? That would be a mere supposition, not a fact, impossible to prove and not worth disproving. Will you tell me that Obama, like Carter, is a one-term president? It’s not news to me that he might be. It’s not relevant, either. I don’t cast my ballot on my sense of who is the most likely to be re-elected. (I’ll tell you something that may cement your sense of my fanaticism: I like Jimmy Carter.)

            On the topic of incivility: I’m always going to object to someone putting words in my mouth and criticizing me for them. If that makes my virtual company intolerable to you, so be it: I can live with that. Life as a straw man does not appeal to me.

          • fpb says:

            You have been taking needless offence and building straw-man arguments from the start of this exchange, and accusing me of what you were doing. The only thing that is obvious from your bizarre pseudo-arguments is that you are nowhere near as confident as you claim, and that you resent anyone saying anything negative about your attitudes. And that is not words in your mouth, it is my conclusion from your completely absurd behaviour. It is my privilege to draw such conclusions, and as you have been increasingly rude and increasingly aggressive, it is my privilege to say so to your face. Rudeness, defensiveness, aggression, and a complete refusal to consider your own behaviour, are your pattern of behaviour in this exchange. Because I really would miss you from my f-list, I have put up with more from you than I would from most people. I will now do the last thing open to me, which is to state plainly that this is my last word and that anything you say from now on you will way for your own benefit. Jesus Christ almighty, do I have to put with goddamn Republicans teaching me to suck eggs, and then with equally narrow-minded and aggressive Democrats who call me all sorts of names because I do not think the sun shines out of the arse of (any kind of) politicians? I really have had enough of the both of you. You are the mirror image of each other, and where arrogance, defensiveness, aggression, projection, and know-nothingism are concerned, you deserve each other.

          • JE says:

            It’s good of you to be so civil and forbearing.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m naturally skeptical about all politicians, but Obama, to me, shows more promise than the vast majority have in my voting lifetime. So I think I understand what you mean, James.

    • JE says:

      And I get what you’re saying: caution is good; that much of ‘s comment has some value. But there’s reason to think that this campaign has already changed America (or revealed a change that happened while the punditocracy was talking about something else). So I think some celebration is called for, whether or not Obama wins and whether or not he turns out to be good at the job.

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