Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the Obama comment is that so far he has gotten away with it. As economic success morphs to failure, we are witnessing a commensurate rise in fatalism across the board. I guess people only want to take credit for the end result when things are going well. Even more remarkably, America's 200+ year love affair with capitalism is waning. In a poll taken last year, TheEconomist found that more Germans trust capitalism than Americans !!!
What Difference Can One Man Make In All This Madness?
In a similar vein, all of this discussion around luck v.s. choice got me thinking about personal choice v.s. societal choice. We at the individual level do not have control over the actions of society - at best we have the illusion of control. Our single vote at the polls (if we choose to exercise it), represents that illusion. Society's, in particular democracies, don't make binary moral decisions - all policies and laws are just choices along a (heavily bribed) political continuum. Moreover, as we have found out the hard way, democracies have a hard time making any hard choices, let alone moral ones. After all, there is always that next more convincing politician willing to lie to us about the easier way out...
In summary, following the fatalist approach, it's mildly tempting to think that the 300 pounder sitting at home watching American Idol oblivious to reality, miraculously "got it right" by ignoring the macro-level sound and fury seemingly signifying nothing; however, there is still that one question worth debating at this juncture - which is, in a game of musical chairs, when half the chairs get taken away, who is still going to have a seat?