Thursday, March 13, 2008

All Eliot and Hillary, all the time

Lots of words all over the web about the juicy Spitzer scandal. Newsweek goes so far as to link to a pair of blogs with X-rated first-person accounts by call girls and johns. The fascination is, of course, about why a guy with everything going for him would screw it up (literally)? As explained in The Cheating Man's Brain:
  • Alpha males are high on testosterone, which induces a love of risk as well as aggressiveness and competitiveness. And the risk itself is part of the reward; breaking rules is a thrill for these types of men.
  • To be a high-profile politician requires, among other things, supreme confidence—the kind that may shade into egocentrism and lead to downfall. In other words, hubris that leads to a feeling of invincibility.
Coincidentally, there's an article on Bloomberg News today about a book by Dan Ariely called "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" (which the author describes as "the evil twin" of Freakonomics). In one of his experiments, male college students were asked to predict how they would answer a set of questions about sexual attitudes and behavior when sexually aroused. They were asked the same questions twice -- first in a "cold, rational'' state, and again while they were viewing pornography web sites. "In a cold state, people thought they would always respect women, always use condoms and their sexual preferences were rather conservative,'' Ariely said. But once they were aroused, their answers changed dramatically -- a willingness to engage in risky activities replaced normal caution.

For a laugh, check out the consequences of legalizing prostitution by Geese Aplenty.

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Today's has an interesting discussion of McCain's VP options. I love Votemaster's refreshingly blunt analysis:
Every presidential candidate always says "I chose the person best able to lead the country should the need arise." This statement can best be compared to the stuff you often find on the ground near the rear end of a bull. Does anyone really believe that Spiro Agnew (Nixon's Veep) or Dan Quayle (Bush 41's Veep) were the best qualified Republicans in the country? The true statement is: "I picked this person because I thought he or she would maximize my chances of winning the election." Why can't they just say it? Nobody would think it an odd thing to do or say.

Among the various possibilities, he notes that Condoleeza Rice would be a "brilliant stroke, pulling in both blacks and women... Furthermore, the case that she actually was the best person to be president in an emergency would actually have a ring of truth in it." However, she reportedly doesn't want the job. Smart woman.

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Speaking of smart women, this week's issue of Newsweek has a compelling collection of short essays by women (most of them, I assume, Newsweek staff writers except obvious ones like Tina Brown) on their feelings about Hillary Clinton. The theme is "What Women Want: Gender, Class and Hillary Clinton." The Newsweek web site is clogged at the moment with Spitzer blabber and I was worried that the forum will soon be hard to locate, so I pasted the links below. Many of the writers, of course (including the 80-year-old mother of columnist Jonathan Alter), feel torn between the two candidates, especially the African-American women; another woman argues that "girls already rule," so let's just vote for Obama. Obviously she's too young to remember the women's movement and what Hillary represents in that context, which is not her fault, but it does highlight the generational issues in this campaign as well as those of race and gender.
You know that "It's 3 a.m." ad that Hillary ran that reportedly helped her to win Texas and Ohio? I'd never seen it until I looked for it on YouTube today. It was as I expected, except for the ending, which offers a GREAT comparison with the well-documented reaction to crisis by the current prez.

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