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Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin at the Food Court: the Concept of Libertarian Paternalism

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Last Friday, on a Thanksgiving special, Barbara Walters did an hour-long  interview at the White House with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to discuss a wide range of issues.

I watched this with some interest – they are the President and First Lady. So knowing what they think on various issues might give some clue what’s coming down the pike in America.

The Art of Listening Deeply

When someone speaks, listen carefully.  There are many levels of listening.   You can listen to what someone says in a very literal way.  You can listen to what people are saying in a political correct way – but smoldering under that politically correct language may be a baser discourse which remains unsaid and would not be acceptable speech in a particular venue.  And, you can listen to the unspoken language of taken-for-granted assumptions that define the fabric or framework of thought. 

This last way of listening is by far the most interesting because it often discloses the very important paradigm by which one conceives the world, the people in it, and a system of values.  Sometimes people who are speaking are not aware of the unstated and unquestioned assumptions and paradigms that color their thought.  If they are aware of them it might not be polite to disclose them in public.  That is, what you really think.  Best to clothe them in politically correct language and surface-speak to avoid any impropriety.

When Barbara Walters asked Michelle Obama the question about childhood obesity I thought this would be a good opportunity to practice listening at these various levels.  Here is how it went down.

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