Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Critical Skills Bite

Back in the olden days when I was gainfully employed I worked for one of the smartest people I have ever met. She was Mensa smart, she was quick, articulate, and aggressive and generally about two moves ahead of anything I ever did. Marty had exactly the same personality, so they got along very well, telling me what to do.

Helen was the kind of boss that could drive you very close to crazy and then immediately amaze you with some original solution. I could prepare a proposal for days, I could rehearse in room full of critics, I could have a 35 page, all encompassing, data backed, fact based presentation and within the first five minutes of the presentation Helen would have looked on page 28, found the only hole in my argument and nailed me. I never really developed that kind of critical eye.

I apparently lack this same eye in other important aspects of my life, like my television entertainment. Being an intellectual elitist snob I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I watch American Idol, I watch Dancing with the Stars, I watch figure skating. I know, I know, I'm ashamed, but the first step to a cure is admitting you have a problem, I have a problem. I watch this crap and make Marty watch this crap with me and we enjoy it, what can I say.

These are shows that require a certain amount of subjective judgment and some level of criticism; though I really don't get the kind of hyper criticism. I have read reviews of American Idol that excoriated the singers, the producers, the judges, and I think even me, the watcher. These reviews went on and on about how weak the performers were, how trite the performances were, and how the show has gone to the dogs. Frankly, I thought several of the performers were pretty good, certainly better than anything I could ever do. And when I watch that oddest of sports, figure skating, I almost always think the figure skaters are very good unless they fall on their, ahem, axel. I don't get the criticism.

I watched and listened to President Obama's speech on the gulf gusher last night. Frankly, what I heard was a leader telling us what was being done, what needed to be done, how it was going to be done, and when it was going to be done. What I heard was a man calling us to action to see this catastrophe as a spring board to reform our energy policy, what I heard was a man who spent the end of his speech taking about faith and how it applies to the gulf coast and how we all need faith. Again, I don't get the criticism.

All day long I have heard everything about what President Obama didn't say, what he didn't do, and how uninspiring he was. He didn't whack BP enough, he kicked them too much, he wasn't specific enough, and he wasn't emotional enough. Good god people, am I really that blind, am I really that gullible? I didn't sense any of that; I didn't feel my critical alarms go off at all wishing the President had done something different.

This catastrophe should have never happened. It's pretty clear it happened because of shoddy work, lackadaisical regulation, and penny pinching. The fact that it happened is indicative of a large problem that must be fixed, today. The idea that it can be fixed by the President is indicative of a lack of understanding of the depth of the failures which caused the gusher.

I really don’t think I’m an Obama apologist. I voted for the man and I will vote for him again unless someone I like better comes along, you know, like Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich, yeah right. I know he has not lived up to the liberals’ dreams, I got that, he is much more of a pragmatist than that, and it’s why I voted for him. His calm, his pragmatic approach to decisions, his intelligence, his willingness to hear all sides are what make him the best leader for this time of daily catastrophe.

I simply don't get why everyone is do down on his speech or down on how he has handled the crisis. He talked about the 1500 ships working twenty four hours a day, he talked about the thousands of people already working and the thousands more being called to work. No one can make this stop immediately and to think BP or the Federal Government or the Norwegians can is just lunacy. It's screwed up and may never be the same again and it's not because this administration hasn't tried hard enough or focused enough. There is no “Brownie” working here, Admiral Thad Allen is one cool, smart dude.

Maybe all of these other people are right and I'm just too soft. I know Helen was generally right, but sometimes she didn't have all of the facts, she didn't know what she didn't know, and we were really doing the very best we could. Maybe that's what everyone is doing now, the best they can do given the intensity of the crisis; it's just not quite good enough for all of the critics and judges out there. I wish I could see that better then I wouldn’t feel so far afield.

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