Thursday, October 22, 2009

Compost: Excluding Compatriots, Washington and Obama

George Washington, 1796 (Farewell Address):
The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.
Barack Obama, 2009 (on Fox News):
"I think that what our advisers simply said is, is that we are going to take media as it comes," Obama said. "And if media is operating, basically, as a talk radio format, then that's one thing. And if it's operating as a news outlet than that's another. But it's not something I'm losing a lot of sleep over."
The standard for political discourse set by Washington was for politicians to remember that your countrymen are your allies, that you both should expect them and need them to stand with you when the country is threatened. I imagine that the slight differences he refers to are over domestic policy, whereas he expected Americans to bond together when it came to national security or other imminent crises. In other words, health care and reducing carbon emissions should take a back seat to collaboration on fighting foreign enemies and preventing economic disaster.

Instead, heading into the second decade of the 21st century, President Obama pulls further away from Washington's message than any other president. Elected under the guise of being a post-partisan, post-racial politician, Obama has managed to alienate independents and parts of his own constituency faster than any other president. He's refused to collaborate with Republicans on the economic recovery package early after his inauguration and health care reform throughout 2009. Nor has he seemingly been willing to listen to the likely disastrous consequences of his desired cap and trade scheme.

Instead of collaborating, he's pursued the domestic equivalent of what Democrats accused Bush of doing in Iraq (even though they actually all supported it): unilateral, highly partisan legislation aimed at stripping economic liberty in the name of social equality.

Instead of rising above petty disputes, local issues, and the fast pace of political journalism, he's pursued every minor issue as if it were a personal feud: Rush Limbaugh's "fail" comment, the Henry Gates-Cambridge Police affair, Dick Cheney's rebuttals to his foreign policy.

And now, in addition to name-calling and denying any senior administration interviews to Fox News, Obama has tried to freeze them out of press pool policy briefings (which they pay, along with NBC, ABC, CNN, etc to be a part of). DrewM at AoS sums it up:
Fox is reporting on Special Report that the White House wanted to exclude Fox from the 5 member White House Pool who were going to be given access to Kenneth Feinberg.

The White House Pool, of which Fox has been a member since 1997, is a consortium of the five networks which fund its operations.

After the White House attempted to exclude Fox, the Washington bureau chiefs of the 5 networks met and announced none of them would participate if Fox were excluded.

It's amazing we are in the position we are. We have a President who is more interested in talking to murders around the world but is affraid to face a reporter who isn't enthralled with the crease of his pants.

I agree, but it goes beyond being afraid to face potentially unfavorable questions (even though O'Reilly's campaign interview was perfectly fair). His strategy for working with hostile countries is to engage them, speak diplomatically and offer an exchange of concessions. Yet, his strategy for dealing with domestic "enemies", as the White House as called FoxNews and other Democrats have called Republicans generally, is slash and burn. It's a serious contradiction of his foreign policy and outwardly tone of post-partisanship, and it's an indication of how badly he wants to consolidate power in America.

His foreign policy goal is to achieve enough of an international stasis that he can drastically lower military costs in order to shift that money toward his domestic policy goals. So while he is mute about Ahmedinejad slaughtering people in Tehran, he can't stop talking shit about Republicans and FoxNews:

Democrats think for themselves? Yeah, right. That must be why every liberal you'll ever meet thinks any black, Jew, female, homosexual or Hispanic that is a Republican is an idiot, Uncle Tom or traitor. I guess that's also why liberals are so tolerant of right-wing talk radio, profit margins, divergent religious expression, and economic freedom. They're big fans of economic success and independent thought. The reality is they're only fans of equality of outcome. The more they can tie individual economic success to party affiliation, the more they can control the entire domestic agenda.

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