The most interesting observations of the new administration are those who note the more of the sameness of the governing. The change mantra seems to be only in the rhetoric put forth in press releases and presidential press sound bites.
Beginning with the not-so-memorable address at his inauguration, President Obama expressed "not a sentence or thought that hit you in the chest and entered your head not to leave." That according to Peggy Noonan, former presidential speechwriter. She sited this from the speech: "In the words of the Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things." She continued, "This was a call for a new nobility that puts aside 'petty grievances and false promises' that have marked the oral culture of our modern political life. He seemed to be saying that the old, pointless partisanship of the past does not fit the current moment."
In other words, he'd like to be treated better than President Bush was treated. And, immediately the nasty tone of the new White House Website was noted as the continued attacks of the former administration show other motives than 'change' or 'hope' of a new tone in Washington.
While the address hearkened back to the days of the Great Depression in order to make an expansion of government programs more palatable to Americans, many are awaking to the realization that history has shown these programs to be a hindrance to a weak economy. The government budget office has come out with the numbers of the proposed second 'stimulus' package now being pushed through Congress. The numbers don't add up to the lofty rhetoric. Only 10% will be used this year. And, it is not much of a new job creator, either. Small business tax breaks would be more efficient and successful than the pork,say,of all the cultural arts dollars proposed.
His speech was less than magnanimous. The swipes at the Bush administration were clear, after he thanked President Bush for his service to the country. This is something previous presidents strived to avoid. The reason is that it makes the orator look small. If Obama expects mature behavior from others, he has to walk the walk, too. The campaign is over. He has to make the transition into leading now.
Obama's speech was watched by millions on television. Ronald Reagan's was watched by more. Something to remember. Almost half of the voting public didn't vote for President Obama. His window of opportunity to create goodwill among his dissenters is closing.
As he fulfilled a campaign promise to close Gitmo immediately, a promise also made by John McCain, he showed little leadership by making the goal for closure 'a year' and offering no solutions to transferring the prisoners or how they will face trials. He left open a loophole of the alleged torture policy, while pretending otherwise. He has come to the realization that he needs all the tools put into place by the Bush administration, but he is not willing to be truthful with the public yet on that fact.
Juan Williams, NPR and Fox News talking head, wrote an interesting piece for The Wall Street Journal. He hopes to make the point that Obama must be judged as others who have held the office were judged. He states that Obama must be judged on performance. Williams offers the hope that a black president is able to receive criticism or praise while not being treated as a 'fragile flower'. Opposing Obama and his policies doesn't make the critic a racist. The campaign is over.
"There is a dangerous trap being set here. The same media people invested in boosting a black man to the White House as a matter of history have set very high expectations for him. When he disappoints, as presidents and other human beings inevitably do, the backlash may be extreme." With the death of journalism exhibited in the 2008 campaign season, I don't foresee the media adulation on the wane. With so much personally invested in their candidate, Obama, the press will continue to handle him with much leeway.
President Bush was gracious throughout the eight years in office. He was treated with a level of hate and vengeance unlike any other president in recent history. He graciously watched the inauguration activity on Air Force One and set the tone of discretion heard on board. His former staffers and friends are only now coming forward to voice disappointment in the tone of the nasty shots taken during the inauguration address. Candidate Obama ran on a theme of bridging partisan divide. He claimed to be insulted when he was called 'just another politician' by those closest to him. That window of opportunity is closing. Time to walk the walk.