Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Snif, Snif -- Uh-oh, someone's pants on fire

Well, lookey here.

Today's topic comes not from some "Right Wing Wacko" blog or “... that detestable windbag R*$# Limb%$#@!” No, today's big news comes from the New York Times and Associated Press, so it MUST be true., right?

Obama’s Pledge to Reform Ethics Faces an Early Test
Here's a great quote from that article:

“This is a big problem for Obama, especially because it was such a major,
major promise,”
said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for
Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
. “He harped on it, time after time,
and he created a sense of expectation around the country. This is exactly
why people are skeptical of politicians,
because change we can
believe in is not the same thing as business as usual.”

However, let's give credit where credit's due--this was on Page One of NYT, and it leads to a Editorial Page rebuff as well(!) I loved the asterisk line in that NYT article.

Even so, The Times STILL can't bring itself to bash The Anointed One as much as they would have, say.... oh GWB, when terms like "cronyism" and "morally corrupt" and "business as usual" were tossed around like they were free.

Start with the headline, which gently broaches how O's pledge "... faces an early test." As the Church Lady used to say, "Well isn't that special!" How about, "So Much for Pesky Campaign Promises" or "Obama: Skip that Whole No-Lobbyist Thang" or dare we say, "Read His Lips: No Ex-Lobbyists."

Here's another softy to set the stage:

But the episode has already shown how, when faced with the perennial clash
between campaign rhetoric and Washington reality, Mr. Obama has proved
willing to compromise.

So here, the Times explains, The O man is "willing to compromise" his position (but not his integrity, of course) -- a very statesmanlike and presidential quality. Contrast that with, say, "abandons pledge when politically expedient" (a more direct assessment but not quite as nuanced).

Last week, the press was ready to carve the monument-worthy policy in granite; today's article sought to inject a little realism with the "awwww, everyone says that when they're new" ploy:

Every four or eight years a new president arrives in town, declares his
determination to cleanse a dirty process and invariably winds up trying to
reconcile the clear ideals of electioneering with the muddy business of

(We could have used some more of that language during the campaign, old Girl.) But then -- in the very next sentence -- (and to mix my metaphors ;-) the Times suddenly grows a pair!

Mr. Obama on his first day in office imposed perhaps the toughest ethics rules
of any president in modern times, and since then he and his advisers have been
trying to explain why they do not cover this case or that case.

The article later includes some very tough remembrances of O's campaign rhetoric, which bordered on Limbaughesque. The Times being Limbaughesque--that's something you'll need to read for yourself, just remember to keep reading where the good stuff is buried!

The AP also bravely addresses the subject, and with a semblance of a spine with this article,

PROMISES, PROMISES: No lobbyists at WH, except ...

So even if the press begins to snap out of its post-Coronation -- Sorry -- post-Inauguration stupor, they can't find watchdog groups to be quoted besmirching The Anointed One lest they be tarred and feathered like RHLIII recently for daring to say he hopes people see that the Emperor has no clothes.

Here's one from the AP article:

Maybe he shouldn't have promised so much, some open-government advocates say. They're willing to cut him some slack — for now.

And another:

"It was probably a mistake to come down so hard on lobbyists," said Melanie
Sloan, who is not shy about criticizing lobbyists or politicians as executive
director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "I think the
Obama folks' intentions were great here," she said. "But sometimes you realize
you can't actually govern on just what you campaigned on."

(Editor's note: If Sloan knew this wasn't possible, where was she and CREW when "He" campaigned on that statement? Where was the media in critically examining "the audacity" of this hope? Why did the press swallow the spoon-feed without questioning whether such a promise was even possible?)

Here's today's winner of "His heart was in the right place" award:

Fred Wertheimer of Democracy21 is one of Washington's best-known advocates of
more open and honest government. He called Obama's executive order
"unprecedented and almost revolutionary in nature" and "a direct attack on the
culture of Washington and the way business is done here."

"A few waivers will not undermine it," he said, provided they are justified and limited.

Yep, in 2 paragraphs, ol Fred goes from "unprecedented and almost revolutionary" to Oh, well, nice try.

[Editor's Note: This is from a (naturally) lefty group that can't wait to get more government funding of elections and eliminate private funding -- which would theoretically prohibit some future Right-handed candidate from doing what Obama did last November: raise a lot of cash, spent it as he wished, out-spent his hamstrung opponent (you know, the guy who DID accept public financing) by 3- or 4-to-1.]

Not only that, he actually expects The Prez to "fix the system" that he opted out of.

The best way to limit the influence of wealthy special interests, Wertheimer
said, is to increase public funding for presidential elections and restrict
the amount that private business can pump into campaigns and politics. That
could pave the way for tighter restrictions on influence-peddling in
Congress, he said.
Obama declined public financing for his campaign so he could raise and
spend hundreds of millions of dollars on his own. Some people saw that a virtual
death knell for campaign public financing, but Wertheimer said he believes Obama
will deliver on aides' promises to help "repair the system."

Now there's an example of going beyond "benefit of the doubt" to "suspension of disbelief."

But that is the topic for another day.

Relax & enjoy this while we have it!