Posted by MataHarley on 17 December, 2008 at 12:09 pm. 22 comments already!


Normally the “honeymoon” stage of a Presidency is the first 100 days. But as Obama continues to prematurely don the mantle of the Presidency, the honeymoon period has kicked in fast and furious by the media and the public.

Sailing to a victory on wings of promise of “change”, it’s realistic to state that no one can evaluate the fulfillment of this promise by his Presidency since the man is not yet President. But what can be scrutinized is the “change” we see… not in an adminstration weighted heavily with “wall to wall [Clinton] retread white guys” (HT to N. O’Brain for the fab phrasing) …but in the public’s perceptions and tolerance merely by the prospect of a new administration. Evidently, they are more willing to give a pass to the incoming POTUS that they have not given to the outgoing POTUS.

Some of this newly demonstrated “tolerance” by the public is long overdue, and welcome. As Obama slowly, and somewhat shrouded in media stealth, moves foreign policy closer to a Bush III term, the outcry from the public is more subdued. Certainly if it were Bush, and not Obama as the orchestrator of the planned 20K troop surge in Afghanistan, the media and Congress would be a’buzz with the negatives.

Instead the criticisms and crys of negativity are emanating only from our British ally, Gordon Brown. And here Biden thought Obama was going to be “tested” and defied by our enemies… not our allies.

I’m not sure when the media will finally stop declaring Iraq a “failure”, but I suspect even that too may come to pass after the magic inaugural moment. And that will be a welcomed “change” of public perception and tolerance.

But in the final days of Bush’s 2nd term, Condi is still battling media like the AP roundtable on their tired Iraq perceptions.

In a roundtable with the Associated Press yesterday, Condoleezza Rice was asked about “this, you know, sort of signature moment of a guy throwing a shoe and saying, you know, this is your goodbye present.” The AP reporter wanted to know “why should Americans think that we have done a lasting and valuable thing in Iraq? And I know you’re going to say the removal of a tyrant, but beyond – beyond the change of” – at which point Rice interrupted him with this answer:

SECRETARY RICE: The removal of a tyrant is a pretty big thing. Look, so a reporter threw a shoe, which, by the way, is a kind of sign of the freedom that people feel in Iraq, but somehow what was missed was the extraordinary moment for the President of the United States to go to Iraq, of all places, and to be received by a democratically elected Prime Minister, a democratically elected Presidency Council, with full honors at the Presidential Palace with the Iraqi band playing the national anthem of the United States of America. I think that is far more salient than one guy who decided to throw a shoe.

And I have to say that the weight of the story is about the President being able, after all of the difficulties and the ups and downs, to go to Iraq and to receive that kind of honor with an Iraqi Government that is preparing for provincial elections at the end of January, that an Iraq that is no longer ruled by a bloody tyrant who put 300,000 people in mass graves, who used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and against his neighbors, who literally tried to absorb the state of Kuwait – for me, one of the extraordinary moments was to drive into Kuwait the last time and see the Iraqi flag flying voluntarily in Kuwait, an Iraq that will no longer be a threat to its neighbors, that has its best relations with Turkey ever, that is being integrated into the Arab community of states again, but this time as a Shia-majority, democratic government that is an avowed friend of the United States. That’s what that story is about. And frankly, I think it’s peculiar that any of you decided to focus on the shoe.

You go, girl… I’m really going to miss this woman. But rest easy, Condi… when Obama gets the Bush reception on future visits to that nation… and the Iraq band plays the US national anthem… the “failure” word will not enter the coverage, and the pomp and circumstance surrounding “that one” will be celebrated as is due. Of course, lost in the short term minds of the American nation will be the reality that the moment would not have been possible but for a rebellious CIC and extraordinary military (including other nations) swimming against the Democratic tide of defeat.

So yes… some of the Obama “change” will be welcomed by me.

However there are some other new “tolerant” attitudes that I find disturbing… and after reading around today, it’s obvious I’m not alone in this worry. And that is the American public and a fawning media have also adopted a high tolerance to secrecy, and instead rewarding the dodge of issues and transparency with trust. This, IMHO, sets a dangerous precedent.

Matt Finkelstein at Newsbusters is noting “Now It’s Cool for Presidents To Dodge Questions”.

What a difference an administration makes. During the Bush years, if a spokesman or the president himself attempted to dodge a tough question, the media would go into their Sam Donaldson impressions and pundits would see a conspiracy of silence.

But now that it’s Obama, the dodging that was once denounced is suddenly celebrated. Thus, appearing on today’s Morning Joe, Larry O’Donnell declared “impressive” Pres.-elect Obama’s stiff-arming yesterday of a reporter who dared asked Blago-related questions.


When O’Donnell appeared later in the show, he declared himself impressed by Obama’s artful dodging.

LARRY O’DONNELL: You know, the way Obama quashed it yesterday in the news conference was pretty impressive. And look, it’s a pretty difficult situation for a reporter. You’re sitting there, you’re going to get one shot at the President-elect. You can, as he put it, waste it on a question he’s not going to answer, or you can ask him something about education. I think [Obama] did a pretty effective job of giving him that option.

Also impressed with Obama’s “transparency” is WaPo’s Dana Milbank, who says:

Obama has proved himself to be far more willing to take questions than Bush, and if he makes good on his promise to release the full account of his aides’ Blagojevich ties — even on Christmas Eve — it will be a major improvement in transparency over the current administration.

Might I remind Mr. Milbank that that “full account” is internal, done by Obama attorneys, and hardly unbiased?

This artful dodger talent is not confined to Obama, but also shared by his Chief of Staff-“elect”, David Axelrod when he sniped at host, Mika Brzezinski later the same day.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Here with us now, incoming senior White House adviser. David Axelrod joins us. David, thank you so much. How are you?

DAVID AXELROD: Thanks for the uplifting set-up. [A wry reference to the glum economic news reported just before his appearance, but not in a way that cast aspersions on Obama or Axelrod or that could explain his ensuing ill-humor.]

BRZEZINSKI: Thanks for coming on. First a question from me: why don’t we know more at this point about Rahm Emanuel’s political relationship with, as well as his conversations with, the governor of Illinois?

DAVID AXELROD: First of all, I recognize that that’s a question from you: you don’t have to identify your question as coming from you, even though we’re on the phone.

You have to listen to the clip to hear the nastiness in Axelrod’s voice. Mika’s facial expression made clear she was shocked by Axelrod’s inexplicable rudeness, but she chose the high road and declined to respond. Axelrod went on to declare that O’Donnell “was right” in his positive assessment of Obama’s performance. Surprise!

While Obama and his administration appointees have neither been absolved, nor proven involved in the Blago Senate seat scandal, they have done little to promote confidence in their innocence. Indeed, keeping with the boilerplate Obama methodology of “distraction” in as to his relationship with Ayers on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, IL Senate correspondence, his medical records, Rev. Wright, or the sundry lawsuits challenging his eligibility via birth records, the Obama transition team still clouds their status of involvement with confident statements of internal investigations, and a plethora of non-answers.

As Ruben Navarrette Jr. at the San Diego Union-Tribune says, if they aren’t involved with the Blago scandal, they should stop acting like they have something to hide.

The sloppy way the Obama transition team has handled things isn’t building credibility with anyone but a docile press corps. Columnists, news anchors and liberal pundits assure us that just because Blagojevich has been charged with intent to sell Obama’s Senate seat doesn’t mean that Obama or his advisers were in the market to buy. Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald also assures us that taped conversations involving Blagojevich sure make it seem as if the governor was “bleeped off” that Obama wasn’t offering anything more than appreciation if Blagojevich allowed the president-elect to essentially choose his replacement.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we could have fewer assurances and more facts? Is it too much to ask for the public, which pays the salaries of every actor in this drama, to be able to have a more detailed accounting of wiretapped conversations between John Harris, Blagojevich’s chief of staff, and Rahm Emanuel, who will soon be Obama’s chief of staff? All we’re being told is that Emanuel approached Harris with a list from Obama of “acceptable” replacements.

Personally, I find this a tad unseemly. The Senate seat doesn’t belong to Obama, who was barely in it long enough to warm it, but to the people of Illinois. Be that as it may, the list was presented. How did Harris respond? If the governor’s office asked for a quid pro quo, how did Emanuel answer to that? And if the Obama team felt Blagojevich was doing something improper, why didn’t they turn him in? Or did they?

Obama insists that his people have gotten to the bottom of all this with an internal review detailing the contacts between the transition staff and Blagojevich or any members of his office. But we won’t know until at least Dec. 22. Obama claims the U.S. attorney’s office had requested that the campaign hold off on releasing the information until then so as not to interfere with its investigation, and that the transition team has agreed.

Are the feds afraid that Blagojevich might catch wind that he is under scrutiny? That cat is just slightly out of the bag, isn’t it?

This new “change” of tolerance for secrecy and lack of transparency may just be riding the coattails of “hope” with the Obama election. But if it lasts beyond a reasonable “honeymoon” period, this willingness to accept “just words” as explanations and transparency is not a change for the better.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x