Monday, June 28, 2010

Obama: President Should Be Cool Under Crisis, Not What Fox and NY Times Say

Tags: Obama NYT Dowd FOX News Emotion Not Cool JFK Cuban Missile Cool Saved Us

Los Angeles Times June 22, 2010 Jonathan Zimmerman,0,4270194.story Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University.

Consider the New York Times and Fox News, which are typically at loggerheads about Obama's policies …

In 1965, historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. published his now-classic tribute to John F. Kennedy. "A Thousand Days" recounted the triumphs and tragedies of Kennedy's brief presidency, but the book was primarily an exploration of his character, which Schlesinger summed up with a single word: cool.

"Cool" was an emotional style, emphasizing detachment and self-control. A cool person had feelings, of course, but he didn't wear them on his sleeve. Instead, he drew a firm line between his inner and outer worlds. …

(President John F. Kennedy's Cool saved us from nuclear annihilation. We were actually within seconds of a nuclear war because our Armed Forces who wanted war with the Soviet Union so our Navy attacked three nuclear missile armed Soviet subs in international waters outside Cuba. The sub commanders thought that World War III started and voted whether to launch the missile which they were authorized to do if all three commanders agreed. Two immediately said yes, and third more thoughtful one wanted to wait and said no. As many as 100 million American lives were probably saved by the coolness of this commander. Jim)

Wikipedia: ... Arguably the most dangerous moment in the crisis was only recognized during the Cuban Missile Crisis Havana conference in October 2002. Attended by many of the veterans of the crisis, they all learned that on October 26, 1962 the USS Beale had tracked and dropped signaling depth charges (the size of hand grenades) on the B-59, a Soviet Project 641 (NATO designation Foxtrot) submarine which was unknown to the U.S. was armed with a 15 kiloton nuclear torpedo.

Running out of air, the Soviet submarine was surrounded by American warships and desperately needed to surface. An argument broke out among three officers on the B-59, including submarine captain Valentin Savitsky, political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov, and Deputy brigade commander Second Captain Vasiliy Arkhipov.

An exhausted Savitsky became furious and ordered that the nuclear torpedo on board be made combat ready. Accounts differ about whether Commander Arkhipov convinced Savitsky not to make the attack, or whether Savitsky himself finally concluded that the only reasonable choice left open to him was to come to the surface.[56]:303, 317 During the conference Robert McNamara stated that nuclear war had come much closer than people had thought. Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, said, "A guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world."

The crisis was a substantial focus of the 2003 documentary The Fog of War which won an Oscar. ...

By demanding that Obama show his emotions in public, the critics reinforce the very worst parts of our political culture. We can never know what the president is "really" feeling, and — most of all — we shouldn't want to know. So why do we? The answer lies in three broad and mutually reinforcing trends in contemporary American life: confession, celebrity and cynicism. Together, these "3 Cs" threaten to bury our politics in a shallow, superficial gauze. And we should laud President Obama — not lambaste him — for trying to resist them. …

Consider the New York Times and Fox News, which are typically at loggerheads about Obama's policies. But when it comes to the president's feelings — or his apparent lack thereof — they stand united: Obama should be our emoter-in-chief, and he's falling down on the job.

Times columnist Maureen Dowd called Obama "bloodless," while her colleague Charles M. Blow urged him to "openly empathize with the anger of others." Over at Fox, meanwhile, Sean Hannity was also squealing for some presidential feeling. He said that some say, "[Obama's] so cool under pressure that he hasn't been able to show enough emotion to the American people." Hannity said, "I don't think it's going to fly." …,0,4270194.story

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