He warned- uh, er, promised- us that he would rise above the petty political partisanship that has come to characterize "Washington." (His perspective, not mine.)
And Barack Obama has begun to deliver on that promise. Jonathan Martin of Politico reports in Obama Tries to Seduce Republicans (completely unnecessary though it is to quote the title):
Obama has had meetings with his former opponent John McCain, GOP congressional leaders and some of the country’s leading conservative commentators. He’s also honoring McCain and Colin Powell in high-profile pre-inaugural dinners, where Obama is expected to toast the Republicans.
Behind the scenes, Obama and his team are working just as hard, courting prominent Republicans and conservatives through frequent phone calls, e-mails and private sit-downs.
The selection of evangelical pastor Rick Warren for the inaugural invocation and Obama’s dinner with right-of-center writers at George F. Will’s home drew significant buzz. But the transition also has quietly reached out to other prominent figures atop the Southern Baptist Church, Charles Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministry and the Jewish Orthodox Union.
This was one promise the nation would be better if left unfulfilled. Nobel Prize-winning Paul Krugman noted in his January 16 column in The New York Times that the President-elect recently stated "I don't believe that anybody is above the law (but) we need to look forward as opposed to loooking backwards."
The remark may have meant little, coming as it did before he even has been inaugurated, when the President-elect is no doubt loathe to sully the pageantry of January 20, 2009 with the principle of accountability to the American public for arguably criminal acts. But Krugman reminds us that Mr. Obama will that day swear to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constituiton of the United States," which should be honored "not only when it's convenient."
Krugman maintains that the abuse of power (and often of law) which characterized (yes, even more than the Iraq War, neo-conservatism, or disastrous economic policy) the Bush Administration goes far beyond torture and illegal wiretapping. He cites no-bid contracts which fueled the failed reconstruction of Iraq, the politically saturated hiring process at the Justice Department, environmental policy, and voting rights, though the list could be mercilessly long.
And if President Obama lets bygones be bygones, what can he expect? Here is Ken Blackwell, right-wing activist and former Ohio Secretary of State (in which he helped secure Ohio, and the Presidency, for George W. Bush), posting on the conservative blog townhall.com:
Possible problems with President-elect Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan must be thoroughly vetted. While only a few details are known, one overlooked issue is that it could create a major electoral advantage for Democrats at taxpayer expense. That would be unacceptable for what is being touted as a nonpartisan measure, and gives Republicans yet another reason to oppose it if not restructured.
But most federal employees, that are not political appointees, vote Democrat. Since Washington, DC is the seat of government, whenever new federal bureaucrats are created many live in Maryland and Virginia. In 2008, Virginia went Democrat for the first time since 1964, and Mr. Obama won it by 130,000 votes. Creating 600,000 new jobs (a number Blackwell received from House Minority Leader Boehner, 360,00 more than projected by the Obama camp) might help cement Virginia in the Democrat column, making it harder for Republicans to retake the White House.
And let's not forget the most famous and most influential talk show host of them all, Rush Limbaugh, who boasted
We're talking about my country, the United States of America, my nieces, my nephews, your kids, your grandkids. Why in the world do we want to saddle them with more liberalism and socialism? Why would I want to do that? So I can answer it, four words, "I hope he fails." And that would be the most outrageous thing anybody in this climate could say. Shows you just how far gone we are. Well, I know, I know. I am the last man standing.
I'm happy to be the last man standing. I'm honored to be the last man standing. Yeah, I'm the true maverick. I can do more than four words. I could say I hope he fails and I could do a brief explanation of why....
Congressional Republicans may disregard the advice both of a man who wants the Republican Party to decide economic policy on a partisan basis and one who hopes the President of the United States of America fails. When pigs fly.
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