Dr. Obama and the healing of the “national political distemper”
By Dave Andrusko
To state the obvious it would getting way off topic to talk about the many ways the mainstream media affords President Obama a latitude it would never have considered extending to President George W. Bush. Suffice it to say, that if some of the very same policies President Obama so casually decided it is okay for him to unilaterally perpetuate would have taken place during the Bush years, the media outrage would have known no bounds.
I mention that to set the following in context. There is a paradigm, a way of framing all discussion about Obama, that uniformally makes him the innocent victim of his own generosity towards (guess who?) Republicans. They can do no right, Obama can do no wrong—unless he’s not being harsh enough on Republicans.
And as the days led up to this morning’s inaugural, that interpretative grid shows no signs of wearing thin. Let me offer just one example and if time permits, another in a separate post.
The is courtesy of the full-time, 24/7 Obama apologist E.J. Dionne, Jr., a columnist for the Washington Post. His most recent pat on the back was “The Liberation of Barack Obama.” Liberation in what sense?
He’s already made history as the first African-American President, reason enough not to obsess over his “legacy.” Besides he has accomplished, in Dionne’s view, other noteworthy goals (again, off-topic).
But while King Canute was unable to order the tides to recede, Dionne is quasi-confident King, I mean President Obama, can, in a second term, “heal our national political distemper.” Understand, Dionne means by this odd term the unwillingness of Republicans to give Obama everything he wants even when they sincerely believe to do so would cripple the nation.
So, what “shots,” as it were, does Dr. Obama have to administer to cure this case of national political distemper?
Schmoozing with the Republican leadership? Listening respectfully to their objections and alternative proposals? Ceasing to verbally eviscerate them in public? Nooooooo! Nothing so mundane as treating them with a modicum of respect.
According to Dionne, he’s already done all that; it’s just right-wing mythology that he’s treated them like dirt. In fact, the opposite was the truth. (Talk about revisionist history.)
Let’s back up a second. Obama and many others believed “His victory in 2008 would be the occasion for putting aside our partisan rancor, our ideological rigidity, our bitter racial history,” Dionne writes. “Obama wanted to be the agent of a United States of America in which the word ‘united’ would become an accurate description of our polity.”
But since THAT didn’t work; and since Obama DID win in 2012, he is “liberated” to do pretty much what he wants.
He will continue to be opposed, of course, because of his identity “as someone who is urban, highly educated and culturally progressive — sometimes served to aggravate the divides in our body politic: between the North and the South, the rural and the metropolitan, the young and the old, the liberal and the conservative, the traditional and the modernist.”
But, just like his hero, just after a fairly objective explanation of what there is about Obama that rubs a lot of people the wrong way, Dionne dips his pen in poison ink: “And racism always lurked, barely below the surface, as another force pulling us apart.”
Dionne all-purpose exculpatory statement immediately follows: “The president cannot be blamed for how others reacted to him” (especially those closet racists).
This is what is so maddening about how the press protects Obama. You can NEVER oppose Obama for legitimate reasons; it always must a reflection of ugly motives. If he is on a non-stop hunt for reconciliation, then surely the only explanation for “partisan rancor” is the basest. Geez!
We are hours into Obama’s second administration, so we have four years to see if the press ever chooses to remove the bubble of protection they have encased Obama in. My guess is just the opposite will be the case.
Why? Because so many of these stories and op-eds are either predicting or counseling or demanding that Obama “be himself.” And that is not a consensus building “moderate” but a “progressive” with an attitude.
Whatever a sizeable portion of the nation believes about the President, what we’ve seen (people like Dionne hope) is just a weak foretaste of the real thing.
For pro-lifers, who have already seen the marriage between Obama and the Abortion Establishment, it is a sharp reminder that we must be more vigilant, more focused, more determined than ever.