Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama Breaks From Bush's Divisiveness?

It's hard to take the mainstream press seriously these days, especially when the bulk of "leading" political news stories are nothing more than hopped-up op-eds. This afternoon's case in point? Liz Sidoti at the Associated Press, "Obama Breaks From Bush, Avoids Divisive Stands" (double links, here and here, for posterity):

Barack Obama opened his presidency by breaking sharply from George W. Bush's unpopular administration, but he mostly avoided divisive partisan and ideological stands. He focused instead on fixing the economy, repairing a battered world image and cleaning up government.

"What an opportunity we have to change this country," the Democrat told his senior staff after his inauguration. "The American people are really counting on us now. Let's make sure we take advantage of it."

In the highly scripted first days of his administration, Obama overturned a slew of Bush policies with great fanfare. He largely avoided cultural issues; the exception was reversing one abortion-related policy, a predictable move done in a very low-profile way.

The flurry of activity was intended to show that Obama was making good on his promise to bring change. Yet domestic and international challenges continue to pile up, and it's doubtful that life will be dramatically different for much of the ailing country anytime soon.
RTWT, at the link.

I rarely write about AP's journalism, but this one cries out for some deconstruction.

Bush policies, on Afghanistan, anti-terror law enforcement, Iraq, as well as domestic programs like tax relief, were not "divisive" upon initiation, and even programs like warrantless wiretapping - which generated tremendous backlash among extreme-left partisans - enjoyed majority support across the general public. And on the war, as I noted some time back, "since 2003 there's never been a majority in public opinion that supported an IMMEDIATE withrawal of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq (see Polling Report).

Sure, Bush governed firmly and held steadfast to his beliefs, which was in fact a blessing for our nation and the Iraqi people, as I noted in
my recent Pajamas Media essay, "George W. Bush’s Legacy: Moral Vision."

In contrast, Barack Obama's starting out explicitly partisan, with his repudiation of 25 years of pro-life family planning programs in rejecting the Reagan administration's "
Mexico City policy," which banned taxpayer funding for international abortion providers.

Note too that
Gallup reported Wednesday that "Americans Lean Against Closing Guantanamo." But Obama's frozen the military commissions there as the first step in closing up shop, apparently unmindful that the American states in the federal system and our international allies do not want dangerous terrorists as guests at their prisons (for more on this, see "Obama Gives Terrorists A License to Kill").

So, tell me ... what's so un-divisive about that? Indeed, President Obama himself must be worried about some partisan division, or he would't be
trying to shut up his political opponents.

Associated Press story is just part of that huge media-propaganda chatter that some pass off as "journalism."

Ain't it a crying shame?


Tom the Redhunter said...

Donald, Donald. You're only "divisive" if you're a conservative Republican. Liberals by definition are not divisive. I'm amazed you didn't know that.

Norm said...

When did journalism majors decide that they were so smart that instead of reporting news they could make it up as they go along? It must have been decided during the long hard hours journalism majors spend at the local pubs and bars. AP is only a propaganda machine now, read everything they write with a grain of salt.

DFS said...

I had just posted this AP news item on my Facebook page, with the comment that the headline was bias and false. Funny that I then came here and saw your post on exactly the same thing.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Obama overturned a slew of Bush policies with great fanfare

I disagree that he's done this when one reads "the fine print". The executive orders he signed on the 22nd in regards to Guantanamo and Interrogations is just smoke and mirrors to appease his base of gushing supporters and give the appearance of something being done immediately, and radically as Axelrod more or less puts it in this NYTimes piece.

repsac3 said...

Word: " appease his base of gushing supporters and give the appearance of something being done immediately, and radically as Axelrod more or less puts it in this NYTimes piece."

For a small portion of those "gushing" (gushing?) supporters, you may be right. But I suspect that this vast wave of purely idealistic Obama voters, who expected the guy to overturn, close, & halt everything they didn't like with a stroke of the pen on day one, is largely a right wing creation. That has probably never been the case, as Donald himself so aptly points out when he says "since 2003 there's never been a majority in public opinion that supported an IMMEDIATE withrawal of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq.". Not only do I agree, I'm willing to bet there never has been a majority on the LEFT who ever supported an IMMEDIATE withdrawal of all US combat forces from Iraq. Left or right, Americans understand that changes in long-standing policy or procedure takes time. No one thinks Gitmo or the Iraq war were begun in 4 days, either.

As Donald pointed out at another post, protests against the "occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan" are planned for the future and--while he seems to feel that a protest being organized by one of those "commie, socialist, nihilist, Marxist, Stalinist radical" umbrella groups next March is in opposition to Obama's war" at "Bush's Pentagon,"--the fact is, Obama will be the overseeing both the war and the Pentagon in two months, too. (For my money, many of the people at this protest will be those hard-left idealogues about whom he is always railing, who demanded (though probably didn't expect) that immediate radical action from the new President--but again, many of them will not've been Obama supporters or voters.)

As I commented at yet another post here, just like past Presidents have done, Obama set some goals (among them closing Gitmo in one year), and is now meeting with intelligent people familiar with the situations in question, to find the way to meet those goals.

Yes, I think most supporters know there will be stumbles and compromises along the way, and that diligent naysayers and absolutist idealogues--including a few that one might think would be allies--will do all they can to point out each & every one of these missteps. That's politics. Contrary to the meme, though, I don't believe that all that many of his voters expected anything different in that regard.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Good points, repsac, regarding the desire for immediate withdrawal. Same held true for Vietnam, where dissatisfaction for the war didn't mean the American public wanted to lose; nor that the anti-war movement enjoyed enormous popularity.

But really, what is it the executive orders accomplished other than the appearance of doing something? As Axelrod himself says, they wanted to "signal a sense of motion, a sense of ferment and activity and direction."

It's an illusion. There's not much difference between Thursday's executive orders, and what the Bush Administration has already been doing. What's changed, is the packaging. Bush was damaged goods. Give him an image makeover, ala Obama, and suddenly the policies look more "pragmatic" and "realistic". Lol.

repsac3 said...

I'd like to believe that former President Bush was also looking for ways to close Gitmo within one year of any given date during either of his two terms, and consulting with people as to how best to do that.

Hell, maybe he was...

While I can understand his wanting to keep any such plans secret in the name of future diplomatic carrots or sticks--if there were any--I surly cannot offer him credit for something that neither you or I know for a fact he was ever doing.

I give Obama the credit for announcing his intent to adhere to what I believe to be among our (that is "America's," though it even precedes our founding) fundamental principles--we do not keep anyone in our custody without charge for undetermined periods of time--and then working toward making that goal into a reality. Mr Bush spoke of no such intent.

So while it's possible that Obama's actions so far do remain the same as Bush's--and I don't know that they even have been--the intent and the promise of movement within a specified period of time, does seem to be different. (I believe it's a commitment to action, rather than a sense or an illusion of it. While it isn't doing so quite yet, Obama is telling America that this verbal commitment to uphold American ideals will bear fruit by next year.)