After eight years of savaging George W. Bush, those on the left now believe that supporting the President is good for the country. Supporting the new President, that is.
Barack Obama has only been in office one week, but he has already provided plenty of ammunition for his opponents on the right. In addition to his failure to cure all the ills of the country instantaneously on just the power of his Obamaness, the new President has made a few missteps. Instituting a ban on lobbyists working in his administration only to issue a waiver to the ban the following day, and nominating as Treasury Secretary a man who failed to pay all his taxes, are a couple that have received some attention. If President Bush had done either one of these things he would not only have been strongly criticized by those on the left for it, but the most sinister of intentions would have been ascribed to his actions. What a difference an election makes.
While those on the left demand those on the right now bow at the alter of Obama in the name of unity, many continue to bash President Bush in ways that can best be described as childish and petty. From the verbal “nana nana boo boo” President Bush received from some in the crowd at the inaugural ceremony to the classless digs at Bush on the new White House website, the new administration and its followers seem to have trouble following their own new rules for national unity. Journalist Nina Easton noted that not once in Barack Obama’s inaugural speech did he give Bush credit for any of the things he did right. She specifically referred to the portion of the speech in which he said the new administration would stop ignoring poor countries and their needs. She pointed to what George Bush has done for AIDS and malaria in Africa. “He has saved tens of thousands of lives and this was a moment when I think Obama, in his spirit of bipartisanship, could have given him credit at least on that.” But President Obama could not bring himself to do that, even as he called on the country to unite.
This is not surprising coming from a man who could not even acknowledge the success of the surge in Iraq until it became impossible to deny, and who even then refused to admit he had made a mistake to oppose it. Bush’s opponents, including most of the American media, attacked him for not being able to admit his mistakes. Such attacks on Barack Obama from the media have been (and most likely will continue to be) nonexistent.
Although Republicans already have valid grounds to criticize the new administration, it remains to be seen whether or not they will mount a successful coordinated opposition.
For too long, Republicans have failed to effectively make the case for conservative principles. Too many Republicans, including President Bush, have their fingerprints all over the bailout and proposed stimulus plan, making it hard for them to criticize President Obama’s fiscal policies. There are some Republicans in Washington still committed to fiscal responsibility and conservative principles, but they will face an uphill battle voicing opposition to a President so strongly supported by the media.
Republicans will find it difficult to oppose the popular new President, but at a minimum they must make a strong and clear argument against raising taxes and multi-billion dollar bailouts if they want to retain what is left of their conservative base. It will not be enough to sit back and wait for liberal policies to fail. The same way the media resisted reporting the progress that was being made in Iraq, they will resist telling the public when Obama-Pelosi-Reid policies fail. It will be up to the Republican opposition to inform the public of the specifics of the new administration’s proposals and to use what little political power they have left to oppose bad policy.
Those on the left were allowed by the media to make vicious and unfair attacks on President Bush without scrutiny of their validity. Republicans will not be extended the same courtesy. Republicans will have to make their strongest arguments on the most important issues and resist engaging in the type of nasty, unfair attacks that were routinely aimed at the Bush administration.
The message has been repeated over and over again by those on the left and in the media that the new President is bringing the country together. Many of his followers say he is ushering in a “new age.” Those who don’t get with the Obama program are going to be in for a rough ride, but if Republicans don’t stand up for conservative principles, they might as well pack their bags and go home.