Yesterday Barack Obama took the opportunity to show his distinct distinctly different approach to counter terrorism and leadership from the Bush Administration, and frankly it was refreshing.
1. He took responsibility.
“No one could have imagined,” barked Condoleeza Rice, that terrorists would strike inside the US by stealing aircraft and flying them into buildings despite a Presidential Daily Breifing entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike Inside The United States”. Or it was “Mistakes were made”, a passive aggressive smug talking point that was repeated by GOP representatives after torture and other perfidy was discovered. Yesterday Obama said “The Buck Stops With Me,” something no on ever heard from Bush or Ari Fleischer or any of his spokespeople for the entire Bush Administration.
2. He was humble.
People across the world were astonished when the Bush Administration chest pounded and found ad campaign monikers for the invasion of Iraq. “Shock and Awe” came across like a professional wrestling show, not a sober assessment that we had to invade. (We didn’t). No one in the Obama Administration would have ever said “Mission Accomplished” or “Bring it on” in war-time. One of the things that frustrates the GOP is the measured tone of the Obama Administration, simple respect like bowing to a foreign leader in their own custom. The GOP wants a redneck in chief and they have an adult in chief and just can’t stand it. We have a smart and articulate African American president and they prefer a hardly educated big-boobed white mother of four or a bald muscular plumber or some other working class fantasy of a leader; they miss Bush’s flight suit and “clearing brush” on his fake ranch. His ranch was sold within weeks of Bush’s departure. Now we have a man who takes responsibility and tries not to stick his finger in anyone’s eye for politcial points.
3. He didn’t try and cash in on fear.
Watching the poop in your pants Chicken Little Repubicans try and weave the Christmas attack into a 9/11 size tragedy is very telling. People aren’t really that scared. In fact, Americans are still more frightened of a bad TSA agent than a terrorist. There are no more color-coded states of fear or faux preparedness. It’s back to just calm assessment, personal responsibility and a rededication to getting the job done right.
4. He believes in Rule of Law.
Rather than bringing in paramilitaries and torturing suspects, the Obama Administration is using law enforcement to stop terrorism and frankly in his first year he has had more success with this approach than the Bush Administration did in 8 horrible years. Using police and the FBI is lot less expensive and a lot more effective that running shock troops everywhere and secret torture fetish hideaways.
5. He won’t declare war on a category.
American presidents tend to declare war on entire classes of objects or states of being. The War on Poverty failed with tens of millions of people losing their homes and living in the streets. The War on Drugs has been an epic failure and to this day, any 16 year old can walk into a high school anywhere in America and walk out with a four fingered bag of pot in an hour. Similarly, the Republicans like to claim ascendancy because they are not just fighting Bin Laden, they are fighting ‘Terror’ in general. Obama uses language with more nuance and understanding. He doesn’t give you easy to chew answers, and it’s time frankly that we all grow up and see the world as complicated, because it is.
6. He doesn’t hide behind national security.
Most of the relevant questions asked of Bush Administration officials that might uncover lawbreaking were simply avoided by declaring the matter to be under investigation or a matter of national security. Obama and his officials (except for Geithner and Bernanke) are honest and straightforward. This really gets the goad of the GOP that wants to do more than just conquer you, they want to game you and get away with it.
7. He eschews theatre.
Obama doesn’t wear flight suits or cowboy hats (Bush was born in Connecticut) or fake ranches, and doesn’t need the elaborate but patently fake sets like Bush offcials set up in New Orleans after Katrina. Obama wears a conservative black suit and speak clearly and calmly. The Bushies liked to hear a few “Yee-haws” in a crowd. The Obamas would rather have a pertinent question.
8. Obama allows dissenters in his view.
Thanks to the new President, the entire country is back to being a Free Speech zone. Where once protestors were literally stuck in cages with Orwellian monikers like “Free Speech Zone”- away from the Presidential convoy, Obama is not afraid to face protests and take difficult questions. The journalists in the Press Room are actually journalists, not plants on the dole, throwing out softball questions for obvious answers.
9. He is not trying to rewrite history.
The defenders of Bush are wearing out an old scribe that most people with a three digit IQ can already see through. As we saw on Chris Matthews a few nights ago. GOP strategist: “Bush kept us safe”, Matthews: “Except on 9/11.”
All I can say, how very refreshing.
I have criticized him for a lot. On style and honesty and respect, he beats the carp out of the Bush Administration.