Commentary Magazine


The Changing Face of Change

Yes, President Obama is closing Guantanamo Bay. But as it dawns on the mainstream media that prisoner relocation falls a bit short of national metamorphosis, industrious journalists are mining some unexpected corners in hopes of finding the change they had believed in.  Here’s Liz Sidoti, writing for the Associated Press:

Barack Obama opened his presidency by breaking sharply from George W. Bush’s unpopular administration, but he mostly avoided divisive partisan and ideological stands. He focused instead on fixing the economy, repairing a battered world image and cleaning up government.

So President Obama broke sharply from George W. Bush by being vague and wishy-washy?

If revolutionary change like that doesn’t make your head spin, then surely you’ll understand a new age is upon us after reading Sidoti’s closer:

In one Oval Office ceremony, Obama went through each executive order as he signed them, reading parts of each and methodically explaining them. He even halted a few times to ask for clarification from his White House counsel. That sort of deferral to someone else in a public setting and admission of a less-than-perfect command of the facts was never Bush’s style.

Funny, I don’t remember Obama running on a platform of refreshing ignorance, but I guess I’m just disoriented from being stuck in the age of Old Politics.

Still not convinced change is here? Consider this AP story, from Mary Clare Jalonick:

Visiting one of his favorite Chicago restaurants in November, Barack Obama was asked by an excited waitress if he wanted the restaurant’s special margarita made with the finest ingredients, straight up and shaken at the table.

“You know that’s the way I roll,” Obama replied jokingly.

Rick Bayless, the chef of that restaurant, Topolobampo, says Obama’s comfortable demeanor at the table – slumped contentedly in his chair, clearly there to enjoy himself – bodes well for the nation’s food policy. While former President George W. Bush rarely visited restaurants and didn’t often talk about what he ate, Obama dines out frequently and enjoys exploring different foods.

“He’s the kind of diner who wants to taste all sorts of things,” Bayless says. “What I’m hoping is that he’s going to recognize that we need to do what we can in our country to encourage real food for everyone.”

America was fed up with a president who thought he could eat simply at home, while the rest of the world just stood around and took it. When people of other nations get a load of our new president “slumped contentedly” over a margarita, the U.S. will all but have reclaimed its global preeminence.