Posted by: mutantpoodle | March 2, 2008

More Evidence McCain=Bush

mccain_bush-hug-713122It should surprise no one that I think that a John McCain administration would be the Bush Administration’s third term, with a marginally better environmental awareness. Deborah at Litbrit takes Frank Rich to task for being the latest in a long line of media types to believe McCain’s press, and not Rich’s lyin’ eyes, about who McCain really is. In her words:

…a once-brave, once-admirable hero who long ago squandered his Honorable Man bona fides in favor of a relentless quest for the Good Life.

And with apologies to Mark Twain, I’d add that reports of his maverickness have been greatly exaggerated.

Now it turns out that McCain shares something with George W. Bush besides a sweaty embrace and a unidirectional corded microphone.

His personality.

That’s right – Emily Yoffee at Slate writes that Bush and McCain are both ESTP – the Artisan personality – in the Meyers-Briggs personality test. In case you think this is all psycho-hooey, check out this from Yoffee’s 2000 analysis of W:

Using Keirsey’s system, Bush is Expressive/Observant/Tough-Minded/Probing, an ESTP. Is he ever. They are charming seekers of excitement who are easily bored, have little tolerance for theory or self-examination, who want to have impact, and can confidently make swift decisions….

As Please Understand Me II explains of Bush’s type: “Oblivious to the past and future, they can concentrate all their powers on a clear and present opportunity. And so more often than not they win. However, there’s a price to pay for living so intently in the moment. Since [they] do not reflect very much on their errors or analyze their mistakes to any great extent, it is difficult for them to learn from their errors, and so they can become caught in a loop, repeating their mistakes.” And according to Type Talk, “Their need for center stage can, at times, make them appear abrasive to other types, as can their impatience with theory or even with long explanations.”

And that, my friends, is also John McCain.

There are a lot of reasons to not want John McCain in the Oval office – Iraq, Judges, Health Care, international relations, to mention four – but hovering over all of those is this country’s need to elect a President who can learn from his (or her) mistakes, won’t make snap judgments that will never be re-evaluated, and thereby won’t get caught in an endless loop of errors.

As for the current Democratic frontrunner?

Barack Obama—no one will be surprised to learn—is an Idealist. His specific type is an ENFP, what Keirsey calls “the Champion.” ENFPs, says Keirsey, are “filled with conviction that they can easily motivate those around them.” Champions work to “kindle, to rouse, to encourage, even to inspire those close to them with their enthusiasm.” Idealists “usually have a tongue of silver” and are “gifted in seeing the possibilities” of institutions and people. Here’s Obama on leadership: “[W]e need leaders to inspire us. Some are thinking about our constraints, and others are thinking about limitless possibility.”

This ability to move people through imagery and rhetoric carries a danger for the ENFP, says Keirsey—a belief in “word magic.” “Word magic refers to the ancient idea that words have the ability to make things happen—saying makes it so.” This is the basis of the critique of Obama by his less-soaring opponents. Hillary complains that people ask her to “give us one of those great rhetorical flourishes and then, you know, get everybody all whooped up.” (As if she could.) Says John McCain, “To encourage a country with only rhetoric is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude.”

….As leaders, Keirsey says, the Idealists possess a “diplomatic intelligence.” They “seek common ground,” want to “forge unity,” arrive at “universal truths,” and are “trusting.” Given these qualities, it should be no surprise that Obama says that as president, he would quickly sit down with our enemies. He told Paris Match, “I want to have direct talks with countries like Iran and Syria because I don’t believe we can stabilize the region unless not just our friends but also our enemies are involved in these discussions.”

Plans such as this have resulted in Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, and others accusing the possible next commander in chief of naiveté. Keirsey says the Idealist has to be careful not to make errors in judgment by projecting “their own attributes onto others.” Because they tend to have a positive outlook, they can be “surprised when people or events do not turn out as anticipated.”

I take this with a grain of salt – after all, neither Obama nor McCain sat down and took the survey (which you can do here, by the way), but there is an eerie familiarity to these descriptions. Also, since I share Obama’s personality type (if not his charisma), certain other descriptions of ENFPs rang true.

Most of this comes down to my biases, of course – I’d rather have an ESTP President who agrees with me than an idealist who lines up with Mitch McConnell on nearly every issue – but I actually think that these times call for an open and flexible mind, and I’ve seen no indication of intellectual flexibility in John McCain.

And that’s a real problem, because I think he’s wrong about damn near everything.

UPDATE: Steve Benen catalogues some of Straight-talk John’s, um, detours.


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