President Barack Obama is a beguiling but confounding figure. As he said of himself in "The Audacity of Hope," "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." It is indeed audacious that he should proclaim this consciously disingenuous attribute. And as one reads his inaugural address, it is hard not to conclude that it was crafted shrewdly to perpetuate such confusion.
Run-of-the-mill politicians try to hide their duplicity. Only the most gifted of that profession brag that they intend to confound and confuse the public. Such an effort is beyond ingenious; it is brazenly ingenuous.
And it is working. Many of my fellow conservative commentators are embarrassingly eager to search Obama's words, groveling for hopeful signs that he is not a radical intent on changing the face and nature of our republic. Some of our Tory conservatives have clung to his words ("hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old; these things are true") as evidence of a deep conservatism.
Other smitten conservative commentators take false comfort from his reference to George Washington's "small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river."
Free market conservatives point hopefully, pathetically, to the first clauses of these words he said: "Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control." That "watchful eye" he calls for may be as benign as Teddy Roosevelt's anti-monopoly policies, or it could be as constricting as French Socialism -- or worse. Obama offers philosophical hope to all.
And how easily (willingly?) some of our fellow conservative commentators are seduced to believe the good parts and hope away the bad bits.
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.