Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama


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.


Todd Seavey said...

Interesting — and I do mean merely interesting, not necessarily alarming or wrong — how in speeches like today’s he mixes positive and negative allusions in a way that sounds less like waffling than like a sort of rhetorical bipolar syndrome, i.e., things have never been worse…so we’re perfectly positioned to do more than ever before. If he doesn’t achieve utopia, he can just say his job was to prevent apocalypse.

You have to love the stuff about hard choices and ending programs, though that seems hard to reconcile with making the waters flow and Africa heal and the infrastructure blossom and all that. We shall see.

Todd Seavey said...

One company that won’t likely be fighting the power: Pepsi, which, as shown by their full-page ad in NYT today, has adopted a whole new logo imitative of Obama’s:


And still some paranoiacs claim the capitalists call the shots here.

Dirtyrottenvarmint said...

Yessiree. There was literally only one new mention in Obama’s inaugural speech: global warming. Bush never mentioned global warming. Maybe in 2001 Al Gore was still getting pity sex and didn’t have to dream up a new way to get himself invited to parties.

Bush mentioned faith in God and closed with God Bless America, which I remember thinking at the time was a pretty clear difference from Clinton, who was seen on several occasions to hiss at the sight of holy items and hide behind his flowing black cape. Or was it a blue dress? Maybe Bill knew not to try to attract too much attention from Ye Smiter of Adulterers.

Obama also closed with God Bless America. We all know Obama is a good church-goin man. He’s so churchy, he also mentioned that God is personally watching his back (if you read “we” as the royal we.) No egotism there! Bush talked about angels, but he was quoting Jefferson.

The imagery is pretty much constant as well, except that as usual global warming is apparent in the media even if there’s no evidence for it here in the real world. Both Obama and Bush mentioned the “storms” they faced; some of Clinton’s first words as President were, “This ceremony is held in the depth of winter.”

Theme song for this inauguration: “It’s All Been Done Before,” Barenaked Ladies

Todd Seavey said...

Speaking of eco-stuff: Steve Milloy notes that Obama’s eco/energy advisor is literally a Socialist, and I suppose you have to give people credit for using accurate labels once in a while (strap yourselves in, and wear a sweater — though I’ll try to get back to enunciating principles instead of hanging on each new warning sign):


Kevin B. O'Reilly said...

I think you meant to write, “As King said in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial …”

Todd Seavey said...

Obama repeated it.

Jason Bontrager said...

Ah, but Left-Wing idolatry in the press is “enlightened”, so Liberal Bias is a good thing because it’s not benighted, narrow-minded, or ignorant like Right-Wing bias….

Or so one of my Liberal friends would have me believe.