Tony Blankley

Consider the sequence: First, Obama proposes his stimulus plan in general terms; then the Democrats disagree with important pieces of the bill; then Obama goes on national TV and tells Congress (i.e., the Democrats) to hurry up and get the job done; and then Sunday morning in The Washington Post, there is a report of increased Democratic resistance to Obama's policy leadership. And Obama hasn't even been sworn in yet.

The media have been focusing on how wonderfully Obama is ahead of previous presidents in selecting appointees and introducing domestic plans during his transition -- which is true. But what really may be happening is that his early substantive policy stands combined with his early appointments of Cabinet and sub-Cabinet positions (for each appointment, there may be a half-dozen or so Democratic senators disappointed that Obama did not pick their candidate) may be truncating his honeymoon with the legislative branch of government.

In other words, every presidential personnel and policy decision makes a president more enemies (particularly in his party) and undermines his party's unity. By getting started early on personnel and policy, Obama may have started the inevitable decline of presidential party unity early, as well.

Moreover, while his quick and peremptory policy announcements have ruffled some congressional Democratic feathers, his backing away from pre-election liberal stands may be ruffling other Democratic fowl.

For example, on Sunday television, Obama was asked to respond to this Cheney advice to Obama: "Before you start to implement your campaign rhetoric, you need to sit down and find out precisely what it is we did and how we did it. Because it is going to be vital to keeping the nation safe and secure in the years ahead, and it would be a tragedy if they threw over those policies simply because they've campaigned against them."

Obama responded: "I think that was pretty good advice, which is I should know what's going on before we make judgments and that we shouldn't be making judgments on the basis of incomplete information or campaign rhetoric. So I've got no quibble with that particular quote. I think if Vice President Cheney were here, he and I would have some significant disagreements on some things that we know happened."

Notwithstanding that last sentence, I suspect that liberals bristled when they heard Obama essentially concede the possibility that his campaign opposition to Cheney's national security policies (implicitly including waterboarding, CIA renditions, Gitmo, the Patriot Act, NSA electronic surveillance, etc.) was just "incomplete information or campaign rhetoric." It was all a little vague, but conceding that Cheney -- the devil in liberals' minds -- may be right must have been off-putting.

It seems that the first -- and pre-inaugural -- bites out of the presidential hide are on Obama's left flank.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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