Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hopefully it's just inexperience...

It was a big issue during the campaign…experience. Hillary used it against Obama, and so did McCain and Palin. He has no executive experience. The argument didn’t fly with the voters. Nonetheless, we now have a President who is in the first 10 days of office, and the first 10 days of being in charge of something. In this case, the chief executive of the world’s most powerful nation. I wondered how long it would take for that lack of experience to show, and now just 10 days into it and I have two examples.

First, the run-in with Rush Limbaugh. Someone in Obama’s administration needs to recommend that he NOT respond to any comment that a radio or TV personality or journalist makes about him. Barack Obama is the President. He will be criticized. There will be negative comments hurled his way. You don’t get down in the mud with them. Stay above it or else you risk diminishing yourself. He did it during the campaign by mentioning Sean Hannity, and now he is doing it by mentioning Limbaugh. I can’t remember a single time when Bush called out a journalist by name during his presidency, and there were plenty of opportunities. When you acknowledge the negative comments, you look weak. You look thin-skinned. You look overly sensitive, like someone who can’t take it. This is not reassuring when you’re the man who will have to deal with folks like Putin, Ahmedinejad, Kim Jong Il, Castro, Chavez and Bin Laden. If Limbaugh gets under your skin, how will you respond to these nuts?

And for the record, I saw Limbaugh’s comments and they weren’t that bad. He was taken out of context to be portrayed as someone who wishes the President an ill-fate. The portrayal was unfair. Obama should know this and let it go.

The second example is his recent interview with Al-Arabiya television. I commend Obama for taking this step. I think it’s good to engage the Muslim community, to reach out and maintain dialogue, to make it clear that the US doesn’t have a problem with the Muslim faith and that we’re not engaging in a holy war. In my mind, that can’t be stated enough. I’m sure Bush would have given such an interview if he was sure that the Arab press would have given him a fair shake. But that was a fat chance. So Obama had a good opportunity and giving the interview was a good thing, but what he said missed the mark. It was fumbled. It was a big-time missed opportunity.

Obama seemed to be apologetic for America’s actions. He said we were dictatorial and needed to listen more, among other things. He spoke ABOUT America, rather than FOR America and his comments weren’t exactly flattering but rather seemed to reinforce the inaccurate stereotype that the Muslim community holds towards America. I must ask: Why do we need to apologize to Muslims? Consider our recent history. We supported the Afghanis against the Soviets; we aided the Bosnians against the Christian Serbs; we supported the Chechens against Russian aggression; we rushed to aid the Kuwaitis against Iraqi aggression; we sent aid to the tsunami victims; we helped the Somalis; we drove Syria out of Lebanon; we helped broker peace deals between Israel and the Palestinians and, oh yeah, we brought liberty to 50 million Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. Did I miss something? Where exactly did we give the impression that we have a problem with, or don’t support the Muslim faith?

In the days after 9/11, Bush made it abundantly clear that we are not to condemn an entire religion based on the actions of a radical few. Yet the Muslim community developed the notion that Bush, and America, was against them somehow. Is this America’s fault? Or is it simple ignorance and a result of propaganda meant to stir anti-America sentiment?

Obama would have been wise to point out a few of the historical moments that I mentioned as a reminder to the Muslim audience that America has done some rather great things on behalf of Muslims. Instead, he chose to describe us as dictatorial, and suggest a “that-was-then-this-is-now” persona that HE will change. Worst of all, his words and general tone suggested that he views America and Arab nations on equal footing, that we are all on the same level and should interact with each other on such a level, that we should “listen” more and work to correct the mistakes of the past. Excuse me, Mr. President, but you’re talking about countries that mistreat women, are run by the theocrats, and have virtually no interest in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or freedom of the press, not to mention individual civil liberties. We are not equals and should never pretend to be until these things are corrected. Maybe, just maybe, these countries don’t like us BECAUSE of our liberties, the very liberties they deny their own people.

I was very disappointed in this interview. He was speaking directly to Muslims and he flubbed it. Tell them that America stands for liberty for all, for individual civil rights, for peace and prosperity. Tell them the things that the radicals won’t tell them about America. Tell them we want them to prosper and want them to be free to practice their religion peacefully, that we’re not waging war on Muslims, that we’re fighting the radicals on BEHALF of Muslims. But don’t tell them that we screwed up and HE will soon fix it. Good grief! It’s hard enough overcoming the radical propaganda without our own President giving it leverage!

Inexperience. Hopefully that’s the reason behind these missteps. Hopefully he’ll learn from it.


Dan Trabue said...

Yet the Muslim community developed the notion that Bush, and America, was against them somehow. Is this America’s fault?

Well, many of us would suggest it's largely Bush's fault. His approach was that of Us against Them, kill 'em all and let God sort them out. Yes, he did on occasion try to rectify this impression but it was too little, too late.

The Bush team, it seems to most of the world and the US, fostered an arrogant anti-Muslim image and we paid the price for it. Many of us believe that Obama is right on for saying, "That was then, this is now."

If, indeed, the Muslim world had this view of the US under Bush, then it is indeed the right thing to do to straighten things out. No more of the Old Way of doing things. Arrogance and American Supremacy-in-attitude needs to be a thing of the past.

What we NEED to demonstrate is that American ideals are truly great and are to be fostered in a gracious, non-patriarchal manner and demonstrate by our actions that we'll be living up to those ideals. No more support for torture. No more unprovoked invasions.

Now, you may disagree that we supported torture or that Iraq was an unprovoked invasion, but the rest of the world doesn't agree with these notions. Bush had eight years to make the case that he wasn't anti-Muslim, that American ideals were opposed to torture and unprovoked invasions and he failed to do so.

It's Obama's turn to give it a shot and this sounds like an appropriate chord to strike to me.

John Washburn said...

"The Bush team...fostered an arrogant anti-Muslim image"

I would like an example of Bush fostering an anti-Muslim image. I'm just curious if this image is closer to reality, or if it's more your perception and the perception of others who simply didn't like the guy. People have a tendency to see what they want to see. I don't remember anything that Bush said or did that suggests he was anti-Muslim or had an anti-Muslim agenda.

Could it be possible that those who disagreed with him conjured this phony image of him as a way of fortifying their opposition and justifying their disagreement. After all, it's hard to oppose a president who is acting to protect Americans from harm. But to oppose an ANTI-MUSLIM president? Well, that's much easier...

Dan Trabue said...

We all stood behind Bush on 9/12. The whole world was behind us. It's not a matter of not liking him and then assigning negative traits to him to justify it. We're not children...


We all stood behind Bush on 9/12...
We're not children..."

Well, not exactly.

Weeks after 9/11, two well-known anti-American 'front groups', Code Pink & 'United For Peace & Justice' began their anti-Bush/Cheney, anti-Halliburton, anti-war smear campaigns, and this momentum steadily increased with billion-dollar intensity to this very day. Pure Pavlovian.

Peace & Security Funder's Group has combined assets of 27 Billion,
and George Soros "MoveOnDotOrg" CEO, bragged in 2004 that "we bought it, we own it, it's ours".

So much for the "Grass-roots".

Eli Pariser was speaking of The Democratic Party. On Feb 1, 2008 Soros endorsed BHObama, and Hillary Clinton fell like a wounded duck. Billy couldn't believe it!

Soros, leading the charge with dozens of "Peace Foundations", plus his Hollywood minions bleating, spent years, and vast sums of money "conditioning" this nation to HATE BUSH/CHENEY with the most expensive political campaign in world history. Acorn lined up the necessary votes, state after state, just for a little extra insurance.

"Assigning Negative Traits". Such quaint phraseology.

That's exactly how this nation wound up with an untested, glib, smooth as glass Chicago Rock-Star as POTUS, and now, he's our Commander In Chief!!! Gawd Help Us.

(Iran is still enriching U-235).

Dan Trabue said...

reb falsely claimed:

Weeks after 9/11, two well-known anti-American 'front groups', Code Pink & 'United For Peace & Justice' began their anti-Bush/Cheney...

Weeks?? In fact, Code Pink began in November 2002, a full year AFTER 9/11, not "weeks after," unless you mean 60 weeks. This is true for UFPJ, too.

Don't try to rewrite history so soon, Reb. It is this sort of distorted thinking/writing/claims, NOT BDS, that has caused a majority of the US and the world to not trust Bush and his followers.

These groups and MILLIONS of regular people, christians, jews, muslims, mothers, grandmothers, soldiers, priests and preachers began to see in Bush's rhetoric an extremely questionable, perhaps criminal plan to invade a nation, unprovoked and claim it's part of the questionable "war on terror."

More later if I have time...

Rudy said...

Better to brand the bullsh^%&er and use his name to address a specific topic, than never step in the ring, yet broad brush all criticisms as liberal media bias. If McCain couldn't beat Obama, a full fledged right wing drug addict like Rush doesn't stand a chance. You go right after those responsible. Remember Dan Rather? Bush mentioneded him by name.

Let us not forget Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga who loudly announced that Rush Limbaugh is not the leader of the Republican party, then later apologized to the conservative talk radio listeners for blasting their beloved hero in public. Whether you admit it or not, the Republicans in Congress see Rush as their leader; the far right leader who their constituents love.

Be an obedient Whig and bow to your dying party's leader, Rush Limbaugh.

In America: When evil prospers, the evil party dies. Again.

John Washburn said...

The "evil" party? Geez. Typical venom that I've come to expect from the Left. Rudy clearly has no idea what the word means.

And Bush never mentioned Rather. Danny boy was busted by some internet bloggers. Bush stayed out of it and let Rather hang himself. I don't recall the president ever mentioning Rather in any official matter.

And if you want to say that the conservative base is the true leader of the GOP, then I'm okay with that. Better than a sleezy politician. I think it's a good thing for politicians to take their cues from the folks and not from a Washington caucus.

And I'm not sure why you have such a problem with the stimulus vote. So what if no Republicans voted for it? It was still passed. Seems to me if you were so confident in this bill then you wouldn't care if it had republican support. In fact, you should be delighted in the prospect of the Dems taking 100% of the credit for such a resounding success.

That is, if you were really that confident in its contents.


Dan's research is a bit better than my memory, I must admit that.

Jodie Evans (co-founder of CodePink) was a 'social activist' for 30 years with Jerry Brown in California, and much later was aiding "Unreasonable Women Of the Earth" before joining Medea Benjamin in September of 2002 for the purpose of harrassment of the Bush/Cheney Administration's early confrontation with Saddam Hussein.

The far more resourceful hate-group, led by Leslie Cagan, is United For Peace & Justice, a hard-core Communist Front, with 1300 "local & national groups", plus Leslie sits on the Bd of Directors overseeing five New Pacifica Radio Stations in Berkeley, L.A., Houston, NYC, and Washington, D.C.
She's been a great friend of Fidel Castro since the early 1960's, and during the Cuban Missle Crisis of 1962. A dandy organizer.

If you like Cagan's brand of "Peace & Justice" she'll be happy to accept your donation.

Thanks Dan...reb

Wry Mouth said...

the second error was more costly than the first, I think

Auntyem said...

John-- I too was surprised that Obama mentioned the talk show and TV show hosts by name. I guess he watches them for entertainment, and to keep an ear on those preying on some people's latent fears and prejudices. It is fascinating to watch how these talk show hosts affect people in a Pavlovian way. If they repeat some things everyday, certain suggestible listeners will act or think a certain way, and others won't buy it for the unreasonableness of it.

When Limbaugh told people to go and register as Democrats and vote for Hillary in order to split that party and decrease Obama's chances, thousands did his bidding. It was incredulous---they showed up to re-register as Dems saying that "Rush Limbaugh sent me". Obama ending up winning because more people voted Dem, and then it was up to the Dems to choose their candidate, and they preferred a black man over a woman, white as she is.

Now because Rush is telling his listeners to let their congressmen know thier [his] thoughts, Republicans in Congress oppose the stimulus bill. However, you now have Republican mayors and governors clamoring for some help and they view their congressmen as obstructionist.

Mayors and governors are closer to the people in their states and cities who are not all Limbaugh's sheep, and they don't want any more stalling; it is just cutting off noses to spite faces. They are hurting. They probably feel that if you let the "free-market" run, you will watch it run the country into the ground for sure before things turn around again as they will. Then they would blame the Republican obstuctionists and have more Dems elected to Congress.

I am old enough to know things will turn around again somehow. But right now many people need jobs before the unemployment insurance is exhausted.

It is too bad that two talk show hosts like Limbaugh and Hannity that between them don't have even one year of college can have so much influence. Obama with his Magna Cum Laude from Harvard must be nonplussed. They just glommed onto the current fears and prejudices of people that have little to hope for and are always looking for scapegoats, and these two fear mongers give them those scapegoats. Sad. They don't realize that Limbaugh and Hannity are so rich and in the high income tax brackets, and care only for themselves and keeping all their money, while many of their older listeners would be up a creek without the Social Security and Medicare that these "conservatives" would take away from them.

Port Orchard, WA

John Washburn said...

"They just glommed onto the current fears and prejudices of people that have little to hope for and are always looking for scapegoats, and these two fear mongers give them those scapegoats."

Em, I'm a bit disappointed in this stereotype. You have painted conservatives with a broad brush and it's quite unfair. I like Hannity and Limbaugh and agree with them on many issues. I'm not alone. It's not because of fear or prejudice (as you have displayed with your words), it's because of principle. I believe in small government and fiscal restraint in Washington. I will not sacrifice those beliefs because I'm told we are in a crisis.

Yesterday, Obama warned of economic catastrophe if his bill wasn't passed. Who is glomming onto the fears of the people?

THe reason Hannity and Limbaugh have so much influence among politicians is because they are the voice of conservatives like myself. Your words seem to suggest that we are just a bunch of dumb, unenlightened rubes who would "join the club" and think more like liberals if it weren't for conservative talk radio. It's this kind of attitude that makes the Left look elitist.

Let me be clear, these guys don't tell us what to think. Instead, they tell the world about the beliefs and principles of us conservatives.

Were it not for the conservative voice, this spending monstrosity would have been forced down the throats of the American taxpayer without a whimper. Now, more Americans oppose it than support it because the conservatives were the ones who pointed out the insane spending they were trying to do.

Auntyem said...

John --- I too believe in smaller responsible administrations and fiscal responsibility. I don't believe a business, industry or any fed, state or local agency or school district should be top-heavy with Chiefs and few Indians, CEOs and administrators that are just in it for the money to get salaries, stocks, perks, unnecessery equipment and staffs to impress each other at the expense of the enterprise, etc. I've seen plenty of that and I have always railed against it, we are all railing against it, and not because of some extremist talk show hosts. The guy running the corner grocery store knows better than that. I am nowhere near being an elitist "leftie" as you would characterize some folks.

I am disappointed in you for believing that Limbaugh and Hannity are the voice of all conservatives, since you are nowhere near dumb or a rube, but I wonder how suggestible you are otherwise. I in no way thought of you as one of Limbaugh's less enlightened listeners. No less a personage than Gen. Powell said Limbaugh and Hannity don't represent all conservatives and have damaged the Republican Party. Limbaugh talks about "elitist country club Republicans", and all that does is drive a wedge between rich conservatives and the working class conservatives. Just who does he think conservatives are?

You can't have a fat slob (he looks like a heart-attack waiting to happen) like Limbaugh saying things like "Well, now the 'drive-bys' have their president". Geez, anyone listening to that has to assume he means Obama got elected only because ghetto people that do drive-bys voted for him, and that many of his impressionalble listeners cheer to hear him say that. That is so dumb; it's divisive, negative. Hannity is as cute as can be, but often all you get from him is repetitive almost libelous drivel. I also don't like Olberman and Maddow on the other extreme. Both groups are the ones who love to STEREOTYPE OTHERS. They say outrageous things just for the effect, I think, knowing it garners more listeners to keep themselves rich. Most thinking people don't need to hear their garbage, most people are perfectly able to decide things themselves.

I do note a sense of fear in these talking heads. For example, O'Reilly the other day said that "the white male Christian structure" in America is in danger. What is all that about? America is getting more diverse, and I guess he doesn't like it.
It is statements like that that will turn more states blue. I was surprised that Colorado turned blue. What if Texas is next?

Obama is President of ALL of us AMERICANS, and he should be given a chance like all the other 12 presidents I have lived under in good times and in bad. He is no better and no worse. He is not trying to instill fear in us by trying to get something going. We are in a CRISIS. We ARE losing thousands of jobs everyday, time is of the essence, and the Republicans are stalling.

Obama promised to go line by line on any bill and cross off all "pork". If he tosses out certain things for the Republicans or Dems, it will be because they really won't help the immediate problem before him. He will just have to tell the extreme left that they will have to wait for their programs or ditch them later if the majority doesn't want them, just as he has told CEOs they can't have the perks they want right now, but that there will be a time for that later when the economy is on its feet. He wants people to be successful (he and his wife could have gone into the corporate world), but first we have to save the ship, no? Those who have the money now should help out, or there won't be any money for anyone later.

I hate for us who support Obama to be stereotyped as Libs (something I have seen you state) or Lefties or whatever. I feel most of us are centrists that according to the subject at hand lean a little to the right or left. We have all kinds of ideologies--McCain was thought to be a liberal Republican, the blue dog Dems are considered conservative.

Most black folks aren't like Limbaugh's stereotype; many are coming up in the world--they are different than the generation that spawned the civil rights workers, the black nationalists; they have assimilated into the American main-stream like anyone else--Jesse Jackson Jr. and MLK III don't even have the drawls their fathers did. They speak like the men on the six o'clock news. But some people still have to get past their color and not assign them a stereotype because of it.

Limbaugh, et al don't have to tell us what is in the bills because everything is online; that is what the new technology gets us--information for us to make up our own minds. This is the information age. I just got through looking at the list of things in the spending bill for my island and Seattle and in New Mexico and what the votes for them are. People should take the time to get their own info and not have things shoved down their throats by extreme voices on either side of the spectrum. We don't have to give up our core ideals, and we have the freedom to speak up if we feel those are threatened, but we shouldn't be obstructionist in a crisis.

Port Orchard, WA

Kristina said...

I started to write a comment, but it was several pages long on Word, so I just transfered it to my blog. I responded to a lot of stereotypical things you said. I hope you check it out.

Stereotypes and Misconceptions

John Washburn said...

As Kristina said, when Rush mentions "drive bys" he's talking about the media, not gangsters. For example, the other night Brian Williams mentioned Obama's "I screwed up" line and said something like 'this isn't what we're accustomed to hearing from the President'. THat's a drive-by. Never miss a chance to take an unnecessary shot at Bush.

And I've given Obama a chance. I've been fair to him, but if he signs this bill into law then I will be out. He will no longer have an ounce of my support. He will effectively mortgage my kids' futures in the name of greasing Washington palms while pawning it off as stimulus. That's something that is unforgivable.

Auntyem said...

John --- I guess I am not up on the "conservative" lingo. Only someone like Rush would take a phrase that came out of the ghettoes and apply it to the media, of which he is a part. "Media" to me means a vehicle by which to communicate information, but Rush would have it be only a liberal media, and then assign them a label normally applied only to gangsters who do drive-by shootings, reducing them to gangster status. In that case, he too is a "drive-by" gangster---never miss a chance to take an unnecessary pot shot at somebody.

Port Orchard, WA