- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2009

On the attack

”When President Barack Obama took the oath of office [Tuesday], his communications team flipped the switch on the brand new, redesigned White House web site,”Mark Impomeni writes at www.politicalmachine.com.

”The Obama Administration boasts that [its] primary web presence will be the most technically advanced ever, with plenty of opportunities for ordinary citizens to engage in the day-to-day decision-making process. Left unsaid by the Administration’s new webmasters, is that the White House web site has also become a political attack site, with several ungracious references to the previous administration’s record,” Mr. Impomeni said.

“The site contains the Obama administration’s official statements about its policy aims in a host of areas. The incoming administration was not content, however, to simply discuss its policies. It included some gratuitous shots at former President Bush on his way out of the Oval Office.”

Here is one cited Mr. Impomeni: “President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow the catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur. President Obama responded swiftly to Hurricane Katrina. Citing the Bush Administration’s ‘unconscionable ineptitude’ in responding to Hurricane Katrina, then-Senator Obama introduced legislation requiring disaster planners to take into account the specific needs of low-income hurricane victims.”

Mr. Impomeni remarked, “Left unsaid is how exactly the Obama administration will make good on its promise to rebuild, or what specifically the Bush Administration failed to deliver on.”

Dangerous trap

”If his presidency is to represent the full power of the idea that black Americans are just like everyone else - fully human and fully capable of intellect, courage and patriotism - then Barack Obama has to be subject to the same rough and tumble of political criticism experienced by his predecessors,” Juan Williams writes in the Wall Street Journal.

”To treat the first black president as if he is a fragile flower is certain to hobble him. It is also to waste a tremendous opportunity for improving race relations by doing away with stereotypes and seeing the potential in all Americans,” Mr. Williams said.

“Yet there is fear, especially among black people, that criticism of him or any of his failures might be twisted into evidence that people of color cannot effectively lead. That amounts to wasting time and energy reacting to hateful stereotypes. It also leads to treating all criticism of Mr. Obama, whether legitimate, wrong-headed or even mean-spirited, as racist.

“This is patronizing. Worse, it carries an implicit presumption of inferiority. Every American president must be held to the highest standard. No president of any color should be given a free pass for screw-ups, lies or failure to keep a promise.

“During the Democrats’ primaries and caucuses, candidate Obama often got affectionate if not fawning treatment from the American media. Editors, news anchors, columnists and commentators, both white and black but especially those on the political left, too often acted as if they were in a hurry to claim their role in history as supporters of the first black president. …

“There is a dangerous trap being set here. The same media people invested in boosting a black man to the White House as a matter of history have set very high expectations for him. When he disappoints, as presidents and other human beings inevitably do, the backlash may be extreme.”

About that speech

”Our 44th president’s Inaugural Address was solid, respectable, uplifting, suitably short, superbly delivered, but - in light of the towering expectations whipped up that his speech might belong in the company of those by Lincoln, F.D.R. and Kennedy - fell short of the anticipated immortality,” William Safire, a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon, wrote Wednesday in the New York Times.

”It’s for others to cover the majesty of this inaugural moment, the happiness and pride that swept through the unprecedented throng, and the impact of being present in person or through television of a genuinely historic moment. My assignment is to consider the speech itself,” Mr. Safire said.

“After the first stumbling presidential oath-taking I can recall - as much the fault of the chief justice as the incoming president, but it’s not something they can rehearse -President Barack Obama properly reminded us at the start that he was taking office in the midst of a crisis. He used the phrase ‘this generation of Americans,’ reminding some of J.F.K.’s ‘torch has been passed’ line or Roosevelt’s following phrase ‘has a rendezvous with destiny,’ but today’s speaker showed no sign of its resonance. Late in the speech, he said that ‘the spirit of service’ was ‘a moment that will define a generation,’ but the two thoughts were unconnected.”


”Do all Americans truly have a yearning to fundamentally ‘remake’ our nation? There must be a subversive minority out there that still believes the United States, even with its imperfections and sporadic recessions, is, in context, still a wildly prosperous and free country worth preserving,”David Harsanyi writes in the Denver Post.

”Some of you must still believe that politicians are meant to serve rather than be worshipped. And there must be someone out there who considers partisanship a healthy organic reflection of our differences rather than something to be surrendered in the name of so-called unity - which is, after all, untenable, subjective and utterly counterproductive,” Mr. Harsanyi said.

“How about those who praised dissent for the past eight years?

“Is there anyone who still believes the Constitution was created to ensure each citizen has liberty and the ability to pursue happiness rather than a guarantee of happiness - and a retirement fund, health care, a job, an education, a house.

“Yes, two important historical events transpired Tuesday. The first was the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected politician to another - an uninterrupted streak we often take for granted. Then there was the first presidency of an African-American, which proves we can transcend our unsightly past.

“After that, what we had was just another presidential election. We conduct one every four years. For those of you not shouting hosannas, it might have occurred to you that we are suffering from a rampant sickness in American life that casts government as the author of your dreams and an Illinois politician as the linchpin of your hopes.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] times.com.

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