Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thoughts on Inauguration

Professor Kesler wrote some of his thoughts on the inauguration on National Review's blog. I think the most interesting, which echoes my own feelings, is this:

His demeanor and delivery elevated it above the rather ordinary level of its political tropes and themes. A new era of responsibility? George W. Bush already called for that in 2001, as did Bill Clinton before him. Put the stale ideological debates of the past behind us? Ditto Bush, Clinton (remember the Third Way?), and even Michael Dukakis (“competence, not ideology”), though not, thank goodness, in an actual inaugural speech.

Indeed, when I watched the inaugural address, I thought at least half of it could have been said by a President George W. Bush (less eloquently, of course). He said we would not apologize for our way of life (though perhaps they're still trying to pick up the pieces from the now-First Lady's earlier patriotism gaffe). He also said that those leaders who blame America for their problems should remember that their people will judge them on what they build, not whom they blame. He also highlighted the importance of fighting terrorism and the dangers we still face.

Though the address itself was nothing special (his delivery was, of course, outstanding), I think there is some reason for optimism. Republicans will have to give Obama credit where credit is due. We tanked in 1998 precisely because we demanded every pound of flesh from Clinton we could get our hands on, even though he was quite a moderate president -- he was with us on Welfare Reform, Free Trade, and trimming down government spending. Granted that's not too much, but compare that to Bush's expansion of the federal government, his few (and admittedly early) protectionist tendencies, and compassionate conservatism.

For all Republicans out there who hated the liberals' visceral dislike Bush , or for their visceral dislike of Nixon (even though he signed into law the EPA, the Endangered Species Act, Affirmative Action, and wage and price controls), just remember: do not attack Obama for everything and anything. Openly support him where his policies make sense, and loyally oppose him when they do not.


Anonymous said...

For a moment I thought Charles must have had an epiphany until I looked up and realized he wasn't the author here. I normally read this blog purely for comic entertainment but I've noticed that you have some well-reasoned and thoughtful things to say. Please consider posting more frequently.

I hope for your sake that my fellow idealogues are more compassionate and that when you do rightfully see fit to express disdain for Obama's policies that you won't have to endure nearly the amount of accusations of traitor, labels of being unpatriotic, or ever-eloquent invitations to "get the fuck out" of the country.

This blog has certainly used the tactic that liberal arguments are grounded in some combination of desire to destroy the country, lack of understanding of economic principles, lack of understanding of international events, or any other view that conveniently dismisses the intellect of liberals as somehow inferior.

I for one hope that during at least the next four years, conservatives take a moment to reflect on the fact that questioning the actions of the government or hoping for alternative solutions to the problems we all face are a sign of love and devotion to one's country in the belief that we can do better. I hope that conservatives can relax on their self-generated notion that they have a monopoly on patriotism and likewise I sincerely hope that my fellow liberals/Democrats will be much more gracious than the treatment we've received when expressing our desires for a different way forward.

Charles Johnson said...

Thanks for the compliments, Anonymous, but I think I'll pass.

I never remember a moment where the Left gave President Bush as much slack as you want us to give Obama. But you can be sure, that I, for one, will be among the loyal opposition. Note the keyword "loyal," lacking as it was during all of the last eight years.

Brian Luft said...
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Anonymous said...

Why would I want anyone to give the President ANY slack? It is arguably the most important job in the nation and as such should be held to the highest standards - bar none.

I don't believe that Obama is personally responsible for the economic meltdown but it is now his responsibility. If positive progress isn't made then he should be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

Presidents should never be given any slack or blind-good will (like Bush post-9/11).

If they do something well, praise it always; if they do something wrong, critize it always; if they're not doing what you want them to do, always say so and say so loudly.