As Obama said in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial, people ought to be judged by the content of their character, not by race, so, historic a milestone as today may be, I hope the press and public will soon get down to the business of scrutinizing Obama’s policies as closely as they would, oh, say, those of his predecessor, especially when they are near-identical to those of his predecessor, as will no doubt frequently be the case (less scrutiny would be, to quote a retiring elder statesman, the soft bigotry of low expectations).
(Given, for example, the press’s indifference to Bill Clinton’s faith-based initiative and, by contrast, their theocracy-fearing freakout over Bush’s near-identical faith-based initiative, I have no doubt that media bias and cultural amnesia will play their usual huge role in defining perceptions of the Obama administration.)
There will be no shortage of people saying positive things about Obama today, so I won’t waste time with that, though I wish him luck (I’m pleased some of his appointments can be viewed as moderate or at least left-irking ones, even Hillary Clinton, Cass Sunstein, James L. Jones, Sanjay Gupta, and almost-Bill Richardson, and I likewise genuinely gave Bill Clinton a grace period back in 1993, recognizing that he had some moderate tendencies that might prove beneficial — whereupon he attempted to nationalize healthcare and went on to block Gingrichian efforts to shrink government).
Instead of gushing about Obama, I will say that the idolatry surrounding him would be alarming in a president of any party — and I hope liberals are not so naive as to think that press fawning is only unhealthy when it’s one of the “bad guys,” whereas Obama’s one of the “good guys,” which makes it OK for the press to be servile. For years, liberals have recoiled in horror at signs of partisanship by Fox News, but I doubt many will complain about the comparatively soft and glowy way networks and newspapers sound now, talking about how hope-filled, unified, and historically-awed we all our by our new president.
Remember, as the Blagojevich situation teaches us, politicians are basically thieves who must be watched with great skepticism. One lesson from that scandal: watch out for Chicago-area machine politicians eager to throw large amounts of government money around on construction and infrastructure projects (hey, wait a second — uh-oh…).
One race-related note before signing off, though: it was nice to see Channel 11 here marked Martin Luther King Day last night by rerunning the Family Guy episode in which Peter gets slavery reparations after discovering that he’s descended from a black man who was owned by the family of Peter’s father in law, then uses the reparations money to refurbish the family house in the fashion of Pee-wee’s Playhouse. We can all learn something from that.