Harry Reid isn’t even liked in his home state. But Republicans will need a decent candidate — one that realizes he is up against someone “totally ruthless and Machiavellian.”
Nancy Pelosi has a strange definition of what ”bipartisanship” looks like – a bill exclusively drafted by Democrats who have divined what Americans want. The good news: she’s not talking about card check in the first 100 days either. And I suspect anything that isn’t done fast, isn’t going to get done for a good long time.
And for those keeping track of the triangulation developments, Mitch McConnell seems to be closer to the new President on the Bush tax cuts than Pelosi. You wonder why she publicly takes such a strong position at odds with the new President — is she looking to be undercut or does she really think she’s going to pull him left? Time will tell.
Rahm Emanuel’s only explanation for why Tim Geithner only paid back taxes for 2003-4 but not 2001-2 when audited is that ” it was a mistake.” Not very illuminating, is it? David Gregory asked none of the logical follow-ups. (e.g. Did he make a decision to take advantage of the statute of limitations? What about the kids camp used as a child care deduction? Isn’t this a case of one rule for the big guys and another for everyone else?) And the questioning about Roland Burris is equally anemic. (No challenge to Emanuel’s excuse that the reason why Reid and the President-elect caved was because the secretary of state hadn’t signed off on the appointment.)
Emanuel does give the Bush administration credit for keeping America safe for seven years. Next time he’s on an interview show the host might ask him about Iraq. He told Gregory:”Given that we’re there, the president has made some decisions about what we have to do to reduce over the next 16 months our military presence there and begin to focus again on the war on terror as it relates to Afghanistan.” So does the new President realize we are “there” after having defeated the enemy? Does he acknowledge that Iraq also was a battle in the war on terror? (It is getting hard to remember a time when MTP asked the hard questions other shows didn’t. Now it’s the reverse. See, e.g., Pelosi interview on FNS above.)
Victor Davis Hanson mulls over the gap between the new President’s high flying liberal rhetoric and center-right governance: “I don’t know the shelf life of all this. The danger, of course, is that his base will catch on and understand such gestures are in lieu of real leftist policies that matter. The public may, after a time, cynically ignore the Rev. Wright-like cadences, and believe that what is promised will, at some future date, inevitably be modified or rejected, with a certain blame attached to the culpable “they” (fill in the blanks). And the conservatives, if they sense the messianic frenzy is subsidizing, will embolden their criticism. But for now? There is rich irony. The Europeans have simply dropped their anti-Americanism and seem perfectly happy to accept the Obama veneer on Bush III, while the long out of power Left is willing to assume FISA, Iraq, Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, missile defense, etc. are ‘complex’ and ‘problematic’ rather than a product of Bush-Hitler.” Well if it works the Republican Party will be on life support – but so will liberalism.
More continuity: the President-elect maintains that promotion of democracy abroad will “be at a central part of our foreign policy. It is who we are.” Yes, it sounds more nuanced and may in fact be more subtle in application. And will the Left be screaming for more”realism”? No! That sort of talk is now going to be regarded as high-minded and inspirational. Whatever. The Bush Third Term is alive and well.
George Will captures the bundle of contradictions that is the Bush legacy: “The administration’s failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina were real but secondary to, and less shocking than, the manifold derelictions of duties by the governments of Louisiana and New Orleans. A failed nomination to the Supreme Court, that of Harriet Miers, was, however, indicative of the obduracy, arrogance and frivolity that at times characterized this administration. On the other hand, among Bush’s excellent legacies, gifts that might keep on giving for decades, are two justices—John Roberts and Sam Alito.” But in the end, he hopes that his legacy will not be any of that – nor the bitterness of his opponents –but the beginning of the end of Al Qaeda, an independent and relatively democratic Iraq and a more secure America.
There is something to be said for David Frum’s recipe for the Republicans: “We Republicans cannot recover the votes of the college-educated until we understand why we lost them. So long as we think Barack Obama won because of a fluke—because he waltzed into an economic crisis, or because his supporters somehow mastered better election technology, or because he somehow bamboozled the American public with vague, endearing promises of change—so long as we think those things, so long will our troubles continue. Barack Obama won because a majority of Americans believed he was an intelligent, levelheaded and responsible person who could solve problems they cared about. If we’re to beat him—or succeed him—we’re going to have to convince them that we can do the same or better.” But I think what is missing is a distinctive message — if Republicans are too much like Democrats why not vote for the latter?
One final classy act by the Bushes — moving everything out ahead of time to accommodate the White House staff and the new residents. They have set a new standard for cooperation and decency during the transition which one hopes every President will adhere to on the way out the door.
“Responsibility” is a great theme for the Inaugural Address. But how does that apply to Tim Geithner? To Charlie Rangel and Chris Dodd? Once you set down the marker for a new standard of conduct people my expect you to live up to it.
The “tick-tock“ on the speech writing is a far cry from “He wrote it himself” spin which we are getting. I’m not sure why the pretense of presidential authorship is needed. (Only the devoted media are enraptured by the notion of author as president.)