January 20, 2014

Obama said: "if you’re doing big, hard things, then there is going to be some hair on it."

We're all reading David Remnick's interview with Obama in The New Yorker. I just want to comment on Obama's use — twice — of the expression "hair on it." First, he's talking about depictions of the President in pop culture, and he homes in on the recent movie "Lincoln." Lincoln, his role model,   had the "capacity to speak to and move the country without simplifying."
The real politics resonated with me, because I have yet to see something that we’ve done, or any President has done, that was really important and good, that did not involve some mess and some strong-arming and some shading of how it was initially talked about to a particular member of the legislature who you needed a vote from. Because, if you’re doing big, hard things, then there is going to be some hair on it — there’s going to be some aspects of it that aren’t clean and neat and immediately elicit applause from everybody.
Later, he's talking about marijuana. He expresses the stock opinions that it's not "more dangerous than alcohol" and that criminal punishments fall more heavily on "African-American kids and Latino kids," and then — perhaps to stave off the question So why not ask Congress to end the prohibition? — he ambles over to the other side of the debate:
Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.... I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?
Hair on it — whether some or a lot of — has become, in the President's mind, a way to visualize the messiness of real-world problems. Now, you can't shave the real world to make it less messy.

Googling, I figured out that this phrase — which I'd never noticed before — came from the realm of business deals. From a 2010 Globe and Mail article defining mergers & acquisitions buzzwords:
Hair

"Hair" on a deal is often used to describe a business that has some negative aspects. For example, if you're trying to sell your company and you have one customer that generates 50 per cent of your revenue, you're being sued by a former employee and your customer records are spread in three disparate databases, buyers (or their advisers) may say your company has "a lot of hair on it."
So it came from The World of Those Terrible One-Percenters. It's got nothing to do with the rough and tumble of that experience, long ago, when we smoked pot and wanted a head with hair, long beautiful hair, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen, down to there, hair.

59 comments:

AJ Lynch said...

Yes that is an M&A term and, at the end of the day, we have a talking head, with only average intelligence and a poor work ethic, in the Oval office. When the red light goes off, he does what a talking head does- he heads for home to watch TV or heads to the bar for drinks. God bless him though- he has gone very far for a guy who had done very little and worked only 9-5.

Tom said...

Hehe

Ann Althouse said...

It's revealing, isn't it? That he's interacting with those people, not other, warmer, more real people that his admirers might enjoy picturing.

David said...

He learned it from his staff who learned it from his buddies on Wall Street, where the staff will go to make some hairy bucks when they are done growing hair on the palms of the nation.

Darrell said...

Peter IronrailironweightsgiantSchnauzer has been getting around and is more influential than even he thinks.

Ann Althouse said...

And in that first quote, I really felt I was seeing sexual metaphor, like he really needed to get in there and have sexual intercourse with members of Congress, rough sex — "strong-arming" and telling them lies to get them to go along with what you wanted. But then you find that they have hair on them, they're not cleanly shaved, like in the movies, and I don't mean "Lincoln."

Tarrou said...

Big....and Hard....with Hair on it? Am I twelve or is that just hilariously dirty? Quick, someone say "butts". Lol, "butts". Apparently I'm twelve.

Ann Althouse said...

By the way, in that first quote, the next sentence is:

"And so the nature of not only politics but, I think, social change of any sort is that it doesn’t move in a straight line, and that those who are most successful typically are tacking like a sailor toward a particular direction but have to take into account winds and currents and occasionally the lack of any wind, so that you’re just sitting there for a while, and sometimes you’re being blown all over the place.”

Right after "big, hard things," you get "being blown all over the place."

But you're put off by the hair??!

Tank said...

Zero:

..., that did not involve some mess and some strong-arming and some shading of how it was initially talked about to a particular member of the legislature who you needed a vote from...

WTF? What he means is deliberately lie, lie and lie again about the most important parts (to most of the public) of O'Care to the general public.

Now he's lying about his prior lying because he's a neverending con man. Con man gonna con, con, con, lie, lie, lie.

Curious George said...

Hey, Barry, I got somethin' for you with hair on it, right here!

David said...

You need an "Obama is an asshole" tag.

Mark O said...

Are you not fascinated by how inane this man is, despite the resume?

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Lincoln, his role model, had the "capacity to speak to and move the country without simplifying."

Role model? WHAT A TRAVESTY! Lincoln could clearly state concepts and positions in a way that this Alinskyite 'community organizer', with his history of Chicago politics and criminal cronies, can't even conceive of.

LarsPorsena said...

I imagine Obama has lots of hair on his palms.

AJ Lynch said...

Mark O said:

"Are you not fascinated by how inane this man is, despite the resume?"

Thread winner!

Terry said...

Because, if you’re doing big, hard things, then there is going to be some hair on it — there’s going to be some aspects of it that aren’t clean and neat and immediately elicit applause from everybody.



This is an interesting statement because Obama doesn't explain how he knows when he's doing something that should be done, but he's doing it incorrectly, or shouldn't be done at all.
The answer (which he'd never admit to) is ideology. For example, Obama is ideologically committed to the idea that the government makes better healthcare buying decisions than individuals do. No matter what happens with Obamacare, even if the insurance industry collapses, it's all just 'hair'. The least experienced person to occupy the Big Chair in DC actually believes that wanting to do something 'big' is a substitute for experience and critical thought.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Lincoln also owned the nickname 'honest Abe'.

Only in the wet dreams of 'progressives' and leftists and Chicago strong-armers and the MSM and Hollywood and the DNC would that adjective ever pop up next to the word 'Obama'.

SGT Ted said...

Obama is using business jargon to sounds smarter than he is.

pm317 said...

It's revealing, isn't it? That he's interacting with those people

Yes. and he is a phony, a fake, a sponge who picks up ideas/expressions without ever working for it. (My FiL is like that -- he visits our home and sees the book 'Mind's I', on it and next thing I hear him talking about it to another of our guest without having read it).

Terry said...

"And so the nature of not only politics but, I think, social change of any sort is that it doesn’t move in a straight line, and that those who are most successful typically are tacking like a sailor toward a particular direction but have to take into account winds and currents and occasionally the lack of any wind, so that you’re just sitting there for a while, and sometimes you’re being blown all over the place.”

I find this statement interesting as well because Obama is implying something uniquely progressive here when he talks about 'social change'. He means that he is changing the future, not for the people who elected him but for the sake of people who inhabit it. It's kind of a subtle point, but if Obama thinks that the change that he is bringing about will mean that in another generation same sex marriage will be seen as a norm, and he's doing that for the sake of these future people, rather than for our own sake, he's a loony. The future belongs to the people who will live in it, not us. They aren't slaves to our popular moral fads, anymore than we are slaves to the popular moral fads of Lincoln's time.

pm317 said...

You need an "Obama is an asshole" tag.


lol.. how appropriate and he was asking for it.

rehajm said...

Obama is using business jargon to sounds smarter than he is.

It's this. He possesses so little knowledge of business or economics he lacks any personal vocabulary. He heard it and it rung in his ears. And he heard it form a low level handler. Mitt Romney would never use the term, he wouldn't need to. Though Jim Cramer would use it.

Michael said...

Our president is a boring man, self absorbed and, in the end, not very smart.

Tom Gallagher said...

I can't make head nor tail with the metaphors; I wish he would simply say "Let me alone, I've had a difficult year" and leave it at that.

Michael K said...

" I wish he would simply say "Let me alone, I've had a difficult year" and leave it at that."

Cant't I just eat my waffle ?

I can't watch the man. It's like nails on a blackboard, if anyone remembers those.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

The hair of anyone who smokes--marijuana or tobacco--generally smells terrible. That's what I think of whenever I think of Hair. Beautiful hair is clean and fresh which generally does not describe bunch of dirty pothead hippies. That song drives me nuts for that reason.

John said...

Back in the 60's and 70's, in the Navy, I was a machinist mate. Sometimes we might have trouble trying to fit a male part into a female part (A bolt into a screwhole, a shaft into a bearing or the like).

Someone would invariably say "Put some hair on it". The meaning being that if it were a vagina we would not be having that problem.

That was my first thought on seeing this and I was WTF?

I suspect the phrase has fallen out of use in recent years. Many young sailors may not even know that a vagina is supposed to have hair around the entrance.

John Henry

Illuninati said...

Remnick's characterization of Republicans oozes bigotry:
"The Republican Party is living through the late-mannerist phase of that revolution, fuelled less by ideas than by resentments. The moderate Republican tradition is all but gone, and the reactionaries who claim Reagan’s banner display none of his ideological finesse. Rejection is all. Obama can never be opposed vehemently enough."

The article appears to be Remnick's ideas about Obama rather than actual insight into who Obama really is. Under the circumstances, it is difficult to know what Obama meant when he used the term hair -- provided he actually used that term.

Strelnikov said...

I think he means "mold".

As in, "The ideas behind my policies are so old they have mold on them."

Paul Zrimsek said...

This is that old standby, the Selective Shrug. Some of us still remember when Obama was demanding that waging war on terrorists be as smooth as a baby's bottom.

Scott said...

First comes the big hard things with hair on them.

Then the abortion.

Perfect metaphor for national healthcare.

John said...

Just as many people seem to be able to use alcohol with little harmful effect, many people can use speed (including Adderal as we've discussed here), morphine, cocaine and other drugs with little harmful effect.

Was not Sherlock Holmes famously a cocaine user?

And Coleridge a morphine user?

What about the pro-choicers? Where are they on this issue. If a woman has a right to her body with regard to aborting a baby, why does a man not have a right to his body with regard to drugs?

Just to be clear, I am in favor of legalizing recreational use of all drugs for adults. (A few caveats may apply)

John Henry

chr1 said...

If he's not Lincoln, he's like the book he read by some lady he met who wrote about Lincoln, that's for sure.

EDH said...

"...if you’re doing big, hard things, then there is going to be some hair on it."

Maybe he just got "lucky" on the ocassion of Michelle's 50th birthday?

And marijuana buds have hairs on them, thought to be a sign of quality.

Illuninati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Illuninati said...

One other interesting point in Remnick's article:
"Obama’s best friend, Marty Nesbitt, a Chicago businessman, told me that, important as the memoir might be to Obama’s legacy and to his finances, “I don’t see him locked up in a room writing all the time. His capacity to crank stuff out is amazing. When he was writing his second book, he would say, ‘I’m gonna get up at seven and write this chapter—and at nine we’ll play golf.’"

In writing his hagiography, perhaps Remnick has accidentally revealed something genuine about Obama. The fact that Obama spent little time writing his previous masterpieces is a potential tell. If Obama had an unacknowledged ghost writer as Jack Cashill claims, one would expect him to spend more time on the golf course than behind the computer keyboard.
http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/10/who_wrote_dreams_from_my_fathe_1.html

lge said...

This moronic black Babbitt can say more stupid stuff in a day than a whole community of bloggers can respond to in a week. He's highly productive in turning out senseless sh*t.

Paul Kirchner said...

SGT Ted said...Obama is using business jargon to sounds smarter than he is.

The same way he likes to say "punches above his weight" to sound like a guy who does a little boxing. I think he may have retired that one after his reliance on it invited ridicule:
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/03/obama-uses-same-words-about-different-countries/1#.Ut1F_vYo4Yo

Terry said...

"Was not Sherlock Holmes famously a cocaine user?"
Sherlock Holmes was not a real person, John.

MaxedOutMama said...

Ann - it is indeed a sexualized expression, as in, you spent your evening chatting up a potential sexual partner who looked wonderful, and spent money on drinks and dinner, but when you closed the deal and went back to her apartment, upon consummation, the pudenda were unattractively hairy.

It is an interesting expression for any president to use!

Ironclad said...

The New Yorker interview will be widely quoted in the future as one of the few true insights into Obama's Narcissism and belief in his intellectual superiority.

I think he was trying to use "hair" in the sense that "nuance" was his buzz phrase initially. I guess the words "complex" "interconnected" and "multifaceted" are too boring and wonky to describe situations where even doing the correct thing has negative consequences. The best politicians just get on with it and try to simplify situations, this guy drowns in his own analyses.

Still waiting here for posts on the rest of the interview. Calling Al-Queda "jayvees" meaning impostors and blaming his troubles on "racial animus" shows this man is seriously troubled.

Michael McNeil said...

The term “hair” possessing somewhat this meaning — but in negation — has also appeared in science: in phrases such as “Black holes have no hair” — which in this case means that black holes have no complex inner structure which can make its presence (if it even exists) apparent (across the black hole's event horizon) to the perceptions of folk observing external to it. If I recall correctly, the only such quantities that are perceivable outside a black hole's event horizon are its (overall) mass, spin, and charge.

Somewhat similarly, one might say (though I haven't seen it used thus) that “electromagnetic waves have no hair” (electromagnetic radiation consists of waves describable by a few simple equations that allow for no inner structure) — or that “subatomic particles have no hair” (quantum mechanics reveals that the supposition that subatomic particles — beyond, say, quarks and electrons — do have an inner structure is contrary to experiment).

Ignorance is Bliss said...


From Wikipedia

The no-hair theorem postulates that all black hole solutions of the Einstein-Maxwell equations of gravitation and electromagnetism in general relativity can be completely characterized by only three externally observable classical parameters: mass, electric charge, and angular momentum.[1] All other information (for which "hair" is a metaphor) about the matter which formed a black hole or is falling into it, "disappears" behind the black-hole event horizon and is therefore permanently inaccessible to external observers. Physicist John Archibald Wheeler expressed this idea with the phrase "black holes have no hair"[1] which was the origin of the name.[2]

The black holes have no hair quote is from 1973, so the hair==details metaphor was understood outside the business world at that time.

paul a'barge said...

Um, folks.

This is about shaved female lady-parts.

Hair on something == unattractive, ok?

Really, did we all just stagger out of the Stone Age?

Rusty said...

MaxedOutMama said...
Ann - it is indeed a sexualized expression, as in, you spent your evening chatting up a potential sexual partner who looked wonderful, and spent money on drinks and dinner, but when you closed the deal and went back to her apartment, upon consummation, the pudenda were unattractively hairy.

It is an interesting expression for any president to use!

Unless, of course, HE'S the one that likes big, hard, hairy things.

NTTAWWT

ALP said...

Ann, I read the title of this post and thought you had begun to channel Malcolm Tucker! Put a Scottish accent on that title...perfect.

Although for Malcolm, that would be just the beginning of one of his tirades...a mere warm up.

Michael McNeil said...

Of course, from that point of view, the “black holes have no hair” is not just a metaphor but a bawdy joke!

pm317 said...

All in all, it is an unsavory expression for a 'president' to use. Where is the class?

Greg Hlatky said...

President Obama: the nation's Pointy-Haired Boss.

pm317 said...

A summary of Obama's hairy problems

paul a'barge said...

@Rusty said: "Unless, of course, HE'S the one that likes big, hard, hairy things".

Here's a quarter. Go buy a clue.

Hint: The thing that is big and hairy is not hard. See my other comment.

paul a'barge said...

@pm317: "Where is the class?"

Not in the White House. The man is a boor.

Robert Cook said...

"It's revealing, isn't it? That he's interacting with those people, not other, warmer, more real people that his admirers might enjoy picturing."

Only to those who haven't been paying attention. Those people are the ones who put him in office and the ones he works for.

Paul said...

Big hard things? Obama?

What did he do, make a speech without his telepromter?

Doug said...

He's doing big hard things with hair on it ... and taking it on the chin?

TJIC said...

The computer hacking subculture (complicated programming, that is, not breaking into computers) has been using "hair" and "hairy" for decades.

http://home.nvg.org/~venaas/jargon/jargon_22.html#TAG839

heyboom said...

@John Henry

Funny, we had that same thing in the Air Force when a boom operator was having a hard time making contact with the receiver aircraft. Someone would invariably say, "put some hair around it (the receptacle). Ah, the memories!

Archie said...

I guess Obama thinks it makes him tough tough or cool or something. Doesn't work although I do note the gratuitous race talk. Expect more of this.

EMD said...

President Merkin.