Bret Stephens on Gaza: “Bottom line: Israel has scored an impressive tactical victory. But it has missed the strategic opportunity to rid itself of the menace on its doorstep. In the Middle East, opportunities don’t always knock twice.” I’m not sure it isn’t a game changer– much depends on the reaction of the EU and the U.S., whether Egypt’s conduct has been altered and Iran has learned any lesson.
Nancy Pelosi was staking out “turf” by going on national TV over the weekend to disagree with the new President on the prosecution of Bush administration officials and the repeal of the Bush tax cuts, but she “isn’t looking to pick a fight” and insists she’s committed to the President’s “broad agenda.” Uh huh. The test of his success, it is becoming more evident each day, will be the degree to which he can ignore or run right over her turf.
At David Frum’s NewMajority website, Rudy Giuliani tracks the decline of Republicans in suburbs and in large chunks of the west, east, and midwest (everywhere really).
Meanwhile Douglas Holtz-Eakin – who couldn’t come up with an economic vision for John McCain’s campaign – criticizes George W. Bush for not having one.
It is safe for Democrats to say it now: Steny Hoyer says George W. Bush kept us safe. It would have been nice if President Obama said it too.
Mickey Kaus: “Conservatives I’ve met in D.C. so far have been near-ebullient, not downcast or bitter. Why? a) They know how unhappy they’d be now if McCain had won; b) Obama has not fulfilled their worst fears, or even second-to-worst fears; c) now they can be an honest, straight-up opposition.” Some are a bit nervous, but that’s about right.
A fair take on The Speech from TNR: “The bleak circumstances make a full-throated celebration all the more important–people need a little uplift and escapism at a time like this, maybe a little something to aspire to. In the same way, down-and-out people are even more starved for lyricism and inspiration–at least when they tune into a symbolic event like an inaugural. Obama should have given it to them and saved the wonkery for his state of the union.”
Howard Fineman wasn’t exactly wowed: “The conventional wisdom is that Obama has risen on the strength of speeches, and it is true that he has given some memorable ones—especially the one he gave to the Democratic convention in 2004. But sometimes the words he utters mean less than the tableau he creates. Was that true today? Perhaps. I was expecting more soaring emotion than I heard. On economic and domestic policy, Obama warned repeatedly of ‘crisis’ and the need to confront ‘unpleasant choices.’ His language was spare, and his vision of the hard work and sacrifice—from the pioneers and slaves to our warrior heroes—was inspiring, but in a sobering way. Eschewing poetry or Lincoln, Obama resorted to old movies for lines. The ‘pick yourself up, dust yourself off’ language was from a surprisingly pedestrian source: a 1936 Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie called ‘Swing Time.’”
Speechwriter Michael Gerson gives his take: “To be sure, Obama has a presence and confidence that completely filled America’s main rhetorical stage — extraordinary for a man who just six years ago was giving floor speeches in the Illinois legislature. His arguments were sophisticated and politically ambitious. But the speech itself was — amazingly, inexplicably — uneven in its quality. ” But he liked the substance and thought it sounded conservative.
Ross Douthat explains the whiplash nature of the speech: “But time and again, Obama pivoted from this theme to the sort of begin-the-world-anew rhetoric that we’ve come to expect from all our presidents, liberal and conservative alike – promising that hard choices are really false choices, that pragmatism can overcome partisanship, that there’s no technological hurdle that Science can’t leap, and that all those nameless ‘cynics’ who worry about hubris, overreach and decline don’t understand that in the brave new age of Obama, their pessimistic instincts ‘no longer apply.’”
Jay Nordlinger notes what I think was the speech’s greatest failing: its lack of graciousness. “I thought Obama did the minimum about Bush — the barest minimum: ‘I thank him for his service,’ or something. He could have done a lot more: not with more words, but with better, truer, more gracious words. Bush has certainly done a lot. For one thing, he is passing on to his successor the means with which to fight the War on Terror.” After the large and small acts of graciousness extended to him, it reflected poorly on him not to respond in kind.
The blow by blow on the flubbed oath. The Chief Justice led him astray and he followed. The lesson? Smart, credentialed people can get things really wrong.
Sen. John Cornyn’s delay of Hillary Clinton’s confirmation struck me as classless. If only one Republican voted “no” in committee why put off the inevitable for a day? If the ethical concerns are so great, where is all the opposition from Cornyn’s own party?
I thought initially it was yellow, and then decided it was gold. Others say “chartreuse.” It was lovely.
The markets had a very bad day. A grim reminder of where we are. Larry Kudlow goes through the remains of the day — and slams the Inauguration speech. He wasn’t bought by a few lamb chops with the President!
Newt Gingrich, who has been touting bipartisan cooperation, says Republicans should oppose Tim Geithner.
And there is reason to, as long as the Obama team is playing hide the ball. “Obama aides and Treasury officials didn’t respond to requests for more financial information about Geithner, but without greater disclosure, some observers see possible future problems. ‘The Obama administration has its first test of its open doors policy,’ said Lawrence Jacobs, the director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. ‘Serious mistakes have been found in Geithner’s tax filings. Will the administration come clean to reassure Americans that everything else is in order? The risk here is that the Obama administration, only hours old, could be tainted by the stain of hypocrisy, claiming to be open, but practicing the same old game of secrecy.’”