Style vs. Substance and The Trump Effect

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15 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    On policy, we can clearly distinguish among celebrities, and others, too. We can discover their places on the line between practicality and delusion. Between patriotism and treason. And so on. Our job is to get behind the facade and hype.

  2. Karen Heckert says:

    Excellent article – in both substance and style. However, last I heard Ms. Winfrey has indicated that she has no plans to run. That makes the enthusiasm for her candidacy even more curious. There are qualified people in both parties, so why are we electing/backing TV personalities with no relevant experience?

    Reading mussar about not being overwhelmed by hitzonius is wonderful, but we really need to start applying it to our own personal lives, and that requires a lot of work and (sometimes uncomfortable) introspection.

  3. Yossi says:

    You might call it the Obama effect as well. Bill Clinton had been governor, while Barack Obama was a highly polished and articulate individual who had accomplished little and didn’t particularly have a lot of responsibility.

    While clearly being articulate and intelligent, he was a movie star type of personality.

  4. Lisa Liel says:

    The idea that President Trump had no qualifications is odd. Decades making deals and getting stuff done isn’t a qualification? And a much better qualification than being a party politician?

    • Raymond says:

      Although I have come around to being one of Donald’s most enthusiastic supporters, there was a time when I was quite skeptical about his candidacy for the Presidency, based on his total lack of political experience. I am the first one to admit that I had been wrong in his particular case, as he has turned out to be an absolutely superb President, at least so far.

    • DF says:

      Agreed with Lisa Liel. The author of the article appears to be making the same mistake so many did in the election, of thinking Hollywood and media representative of everyday Americans. To their warped way of thinking, Trump was elected on the basis of celebrity appeal, so (they reason) Oprah can do the same thing. They simply cannot fathom that many voted for Trump because of the qualities Lisa Liel describes. Others, like me, voted from him because we believed what the country needed most at this time was someone to punch a hole in the stifling air of political correctness choking the life out of the nation. That he was a man of business, and not a career politician, was a huge plus. Agree or disagree, Trump’s so-called flaws, to our way of thinking, was precisely his greatest strength. These are matters of substance, not style.

      By contrast, does the author really believe Clinton and Obama were elected on the basis of substance? We can debate Clinton, king of the glad-handers, who trolled for votes by playing the saxophone in sunglasses on the Arsenio Hall show. But Obama,it cannot be denied by even his supporters, was voted in on the strengths of black voters and white guilt voters who cared nothing and knew nothing about him other than his race.

  5. Eli says:

    The Trump Effect makes an Oprah candidacy more plausible but the enthusiasm underpinning her support is more attributable to the Obama/Hillary Effect – i.e., a candidate’s qualifications are directly related to which historically aggrieved groups they belong to. Since Oprah can claim membership to two she’s seen as a shoe-in. Alas Jews don’t benefit from this but since the most popular Jewish politician in America today is Bernie Sanders that’s probably for the best.

  6. Yaakov says:

    One thing I would though in terms of the difference between the two: Trump, having grown up with a silver spoon, is a self-aggrandizer, whose moral failings are clear for all to see. Oprah, in contrast, rising from very tough circumstances, has used her platform to get in tune with and aid those less fortunate. A successful, yet charitable businesswoman via her own efforts, she has shown the intellectual and social aptitude needed to be President in the 21st century. I’m not saying that everyone should vote for her if she ran, but who cares that she does not have a law degree?

    • Alexandra Fleksher says:

      Oprah has many outstanding qualities, all of which you mention would be assets. What she is lacking is political expertise and experience. Journalism, entertainment and philanthropy are her fields. And by the way, only 4 presidents have had law degrees, so I agree with you that it isn’t essential or required. It seems necessary, to me at least, that you first need to be a leader in your field to achieve the highest position in it, and the field of the presidency is politics and diplomacy. Intellectual and social aptitude just isn’t enough. If it is, then Yitzchok Adlerstein 2020.

      • Bob Miller says:

        We ought to pray really hard for Mashiach. Every politician, with or without paper credentials, will let us down sooner or later. Meantime, adequate beats lousy.

      • Anyone who runs a business or any organization comprised of human beings, has to know an awful lot about politics and diplomacy — knowing how to work with other people to get the things you want done.
        Whether they are good at it or not is a different matter. But experience in the specific politics of governing isn’t needed if you have adequate experience in the politics involved in running a large business or organization.

  7. nt says:

    Is it historically true that there is a positive correlation between experience and presidential success? Abraham Lincoln was a good orator but not particularly experienced; John Quincy Adams was the son of a president, a senator, and a successful Secretary of State, and is considered by historians to be an unsuccessful president.
    Obama had a thin resume yet got elected by glibness and personality, yet managed to achieve major liberal policy goals in the face of ferocious opposition and electoral losses. Now Trump has been elected with no prior government experience but he has managed to pack a successful conservative 4-year term into one year, made many great appointments, and undone much of Obama’s damage. He has also started to correct failings of presidents of both parties by dealing with North Korea with open eyes, putting the U.N. in its place, and recognizing Israel’s right to determine its capitol.
    My favorite quote from Ronald Reagan is, “There are no easy decisions, just simple ones.” President Trump got elected because people realized he was the only candidate with the temperament necessary to break decisively from the mistakes of the past. That temperament also comes with the tendency to spout off and occasionally throw out hair-brained ideas, but that affects his poll numbers more than the real world.

  8. Raymond says:

    Given how Donald is well on his way to becoming perhaps the most pro-Israel President that this country has ever had, it is both surprising and disappointing to me that there are so many negative comments about him on an Orthodox Jewish website like this one. It makes me think that opposition to the State of Israel among the Orthodox is not confined to such fringe groups as the Neturei Karta as well as the Satmar Chassidim.

    As for the issue of style vs substance, at least the way I see it, it was Barak Obama who had all the style and none of the substance. He was quite an articulate, polished speaker with quite an engaging, even likable personality, but his values were so radical, so much against all that America has traditionally stood for, plus of course he was openly hostile to our Jewish State of Israel. Contrast that with Donald, who may be a little crude in how he expresses himself at times, but then again so was the great President Harry Truman, one of the best Presidents we ever had. Meanwhile, the actual content of Donald’s words are very substantial, very much in the traditional American mainstream, and of course his strong support of Israel has turned me into one of his most loyal defenders. Anybody who insults Donald, makes me feel as if the ones really being attacked are our Jewish people.

    Those of you who have not yet watched it, I cannot recommend strongly enough Vice President Mike Pence’s very recent speech to the Israeli Knesset. I do not recall ever being so moved to tears when watching any other politician speak. He positively transcended the often nasty world of politics, showing a love for our Jewish people unlike anything that I have never seen before by any political leader. Any Jew who watches that, yet still does not support the current Administration in the White House, is a Jew whose sanity I have to seriously question.

  9. Bob Miller says:

    We’ve seen Pence at our shul in Indy more than once. Most recently, when he was Governor of Indiana, he attended much of the service when his friend’s son was bar mitzvah.


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