It’s been a feisty week for tough talk about climate action and examination of the President’s masculinity. Which is nice.

Gore talked trash in Aspen, Dave Roberts says to kick a conservative white man’s ass for the planet, and Drew Westen thinks Obama’s a wimp.


Having whined earlier this year about what I called “The Nerd Loop” (the tendency of overly-cerebral communicators to try and fix their problems by being even more cerebral) it’s refreshing to hear some profanity and taunting coming from the climate community. Is it an instant cure that will suddenly right the capsized climate ship? Definitely not. But it’s good to know there are still some humans like Al Gore and Dave Roberts up in the pulpit.

The first big visceral spasm came from Al Gore who used such horrifically offensive terms as “bullshit” and “crap” in a speech in Aspen in reference to the climate skeptics. The immediate result was climate skeptic cheerleader Marc Morano doing backflips of joy on his website, Climate Depot, using it (once again) to paint a picture of Gore as madman. Whoopdee-do. Good that Gore showed some life. I’m becoming a bigger fan of his with each year that he keeps his nose to the grindstone of this issue (even if his nose is long gone).

Then Dave Roberts of The Grist opened up his own little fire fight by taking on CWM’s (Conservative White Males — though I prefer AGW’s – Angry Grayhaired Whitemen, as someone in Colorado told me is their version for the Anthropogenic Global Warming acronym), saying we need to, “kick their asses.” I have mixed feelings on this. I grew up in Kansas with absolutely the type of guys he’s talking about. When I think of the fathers of my junior high school friends I think they need something more than ass kicking. But still, I’m with Obama overall when it comes to the confrontation issue.

Which leads to the very powerful (but I think ultimately off the mark) article written by communications guru Drew Weston (author of “The Political Brain” and major communications consultant to political groups) in the Sunday NY Times Magazine titled, “What Happened to Obama?” Lots of people were talking about this article on Sunday afternoon. He concluded the piece with this concise and powerful assessment of Obama:

A final explanation is that he ran for president on two contradictory platforms: as a reformer who would clean up the system, and as a unity candidate who would transcend the lines of red and blue. He has pursued the one with which he is most comfortable given the constraints of his character, consistently choosing the message of bipartisanship over the message of confrontation.

That’s a great distillation. But I don’t think it’s emotionally true. Obama knows what he’s doing when it comes to confrontation. Westen doesn’t fully grasp the enormous complexity of the political process. And that’s probably because in the end … he’s still a scientist (i.e. professor of psychology).

And by the way, how many boxing commentators said, “What’s he doing — why is he floating like a butterfly instead of tearing his opponent to pieces?” back when Muhammud Ali was destroying boxers with his, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” style of boxing. Obama’s got the same instincts.