- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Setting a tone

“When listing the failures of his presidency at a recent talk, Bush cited first his failure to restore civility. To succeed where Bush failed, Obama must recognize two truths,” Kevin Hassettwrites at www.bloomberg.com.

“First, civility begins at the beginning. In the next month, Obama will set a tone for Washington that will likely endure as long as he does. If he fails to live up to his rhetoric now, he will fail just as Bush did,” said Mr. Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and an adviser to Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the 2008 presidential election.

“Second, civility begins at home. It is one thing to demand civility of one´s opponents, another thing altogether to demand it of one´s own party.

“Obama faced an early test last week, when, in the midst of the debate over economic stimulus, Democrats worked to shut Republicans out of the policy process, then behaved boorishly when Republicans complained.

“Democratic leaders responded with the political equivalent of a sack dance in football. ‘If it´s passed with 63 votes or 73 votes, history won´t remember it,’ said Sen. Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added to the mood by saying, ‘Yes, we wrote the bill. Yes, we won the election.’

“There is still time for Obama to object to such behavior. If he wants to fulfill the promise of his rhetoric, he should take Pelosi to the woodshed and insist that she include Republicans, collegially, in the process. He should stand up to his party and threaten to veto a bill if it fails to make reasonable concessions to his friends across the aisle. He should advise his own staff to begin returning the phone calls of senior Republican aides.

“If he fails to do that, there can be little doubt that government will fail to change and will continue to fail us.”

In their heads

“Last year, during the presidential campaign, John Kerry kept talking about Karl Rove - how Rove was the weaver of all evil, etc.,” Jay Nordlinger writes in his Impromptus column at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“This was four years after the ´04 election, mind you. And I heard someone say, ‘Karl´s still in his head.’ Well, Rush Limbaugh seems to be in the ‘head’ of many a person - including the president of the United States. Colin Powell and others have singled him out, too,” Mr. Nordlinger said.

“If that´s not proof that Rush is the Leader of the Opposition (as National Review once dubbed him), nothing is.

“‘Don´t listen to Rush Limbaugh,’ say the Obamas and the Powells and some other people. They are giving ‘free advice’ to the Republicans. Well, since when has the GOP listened to Rush? If it did, we would not have nominated Sen. McCain last year (for all his virtues, which are considerable). Moreover, Rush did not ask for many of the policies of the Bush administration, particularly in the domestic realm.

“Rush says what he regards as true, political consequences be damned. He is not a party strategist, or a party anything. He´s a man with opinions, and they are sound, and that´s why so many people are drawn to him, and them.

“Keep it up, Rush - and stay ‘in their heads.’”

Limbaugh’s coup

Barack Obama ran on a platform of post-partisanship, of healing and uniting a divided nation. Yet it didn´t even take him a week to enter into the partisan fray, taking on the Right´s biggest megaphone - and making it even bigger,” Ed Morrissey writes at hotair.com.

“Instead of marginalizing Rush Limbaugh, Obama managed to make him the most credible voice of opposition,” Mr. Morrison said, noting that Mr. Obama told Republican congressional leaders: “You can´t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.”

Said Mr. Morrissey: “One doesn´t make points at all about bipartisanship by explicitly attacking another partisan voice, no matter how much one disagrees with it. By naming Rush and attempting to sideline him, Obama lifted Rush´s profile and practically anointed him his opposition. It demonstrates that Obama still has no sense of his office, nor of ‘post-partisanship,’ regardless of his endlessly empty rhetoric on the subject. …

“Thanks to this attack, Rush not only has his own megaphone, but he gained everyone else´s for a brief time. He became a national story, gained national coverage, and in general got a million dollars´ worth of free publicity.”

Mr. Morrissey added: “Anytime a man in a position of great power attacks someone with significantly less power, it lessens the greater man and raises up his opponent. The American president is, thanks to the office, the most powerful man in the free world. If he´s worried about any political pundit so much that he has to attack him personally, it shows weakness, which is exactly what Obama cannot afford.”

Audacious ad

“If Mr. Obama’s popularity continues to blunt criticism of his policies, and if economic turbulence and national security issues continue to consume most of the average American’s brain bandwidth, anti-abortion advocates may need to find a new approach,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ruth Ann Dailey writes.

“One Catholic group already has. Fidelis, which runs the catholicvote.org Web site, just launched an ad depicting an unborn child, destined to be abandoned by his father and raised by a single mother, who grows up to become the first African-American president of the United States.

“Their slogan? ‘Abortion is the enemy of hope.’ Using the president’s image and rhetoric to stir support for something he stands against is true audacity.”

He’s got game

“Today” show host Matt Lauer show will conduct a live interview with President Obama during NBC’s nearly endless Super Bowl pre-game show, the network announced Monday.

The interview will be Mr. Obama’s first television interview from the White House since his inauguration.

The network’s press release did not say what time Mr. Obama will appear Sunday, which means it could be a long wait for Obama fans. The pre-game show begins at noon and runs until 6 p.m.

More of the interview will air the next morning on NBC’s “Today.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or e-mail Greg Pierce.

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