Monday, January 19, 2009

Us and Them

You may or may not have heard something about the dinner The One had with conservative columnists last week in the home of George Will. The event was “off the record,” and precious little mention of it… or, more importantly, the things said at that dinner… have trickled out into the media. But there has been some mention. Here’s David Brooks, conservative columnist for the NYT, giving a tantalizing peek at the goings on:

JIM LEHRER: Now, David...Moving right along. You were at a special dinner with -- you and a few other right-wing fanatics... went to this off-the-record dinner at George Will's house.

I'm not going to ask you what was said. But what was the feeling that came out of that, from you? How did you feel?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, he was carried in by cherubs with Oprah Winfrey spreading rose petals at his feet.

DAVID BROOKS: And he said, David, which sort of wine would you like me to turn your water into? That was...


DAVID BROOKS: No, I -- we can't talk about what happened. But I will say a couple of things.

The one thing that comes across -- first of all, the one thing I will say is, it's a bunch of conservatives, mostly, and him. There was no sense that there were ideological sides. It was just a bunch of people sitting around talking about policy.

And there was no sides. And then I think the things that comes out of the whole series of interviews he did -- he did one with conservatives and the next day with liberals, and then The Washington Post editorial board, and I think...


DAVID BROOKS: USA Today. And I think CNN.


DAVID BROOKS: But the thing that comes out, a couple things. One is the intense pragmatism of the guy.

I really think he's a Democrat. And Mark will be fine with him. But he really is empirical. And I think he sees himself as a very empirical person, data-driven, no grand philosophy of what the role of government should be, just what works.

And, second, I think a real sense of stability and order, which will be of comfort to conservatives. And he's emphasized this quite a lot this week, that we are going to be spending a lot of money over the next couple of years on the stimulus package.

But, over the long term, he's aware of the deficit, the possibility of fiscal imbalances. And he's very serious about Social Security and Medicare reform, entitlement reform, to get the long-term budget in line. And, so, if he's really going to be serious about entitlements, if he's going to get a commission that will help us solve it, then he can spend a lot of money in the next year or two -- I don't care -- because that's the real fiscal issue.

And -- and he stressed that this week in his public interviews, that he really wants to take care of that issue.

Quoted from The News Hour’s web site. And then there’s this from Bill Kristol, writing in yesterday’s NYT:

Barack Obama will assume that just and rightful authority at noon on Tuesday. After a dinner with him that I attended last week, as we said our goodbyes, I overheard one of my fellow conservatives say softly to the president-elect, “Sir, I’ll be praying for you.” Obama seemed to pause as they shook hands, and to thank him more earnestly than he did those of us who simply — and sincerely — wished him well.

The incoming president is the man of the moment. He deserves good wishes and sincere prayers. But I’ve found myself thinking these last few days more about the man who has shouldered the burdens of office for the past eight years, George W. Bush.

Kristol’s op-ed is worth the read, btw, focusing as it does on 43 and NOT 44. But we digress... my point is Kristol was at Will's house for the dinner and seems impressed. More, from today’s Financial Times (UK):

On his last night of freedom – so to speak – Barack Obama on Monday chose to host a dinner for John McCain, the man he defeated last November after a rancorous campaign. Monday night’s forgive-and-forget banquet followed an equally eyebrow-raising dinner last week at the home of George Will, the conservative columnist, whose guests included Bill Kristol, the viscerally anti-Obama neo- conservative.

In the build-up to probably the most feverishly awaited inauguration in history, the president-elect has been assiduously courting conservative enemies. Most supporters of Mr Obama accept the logic of winning over as many Republicans as possible in order to get maximum support behind the emergency bank bail-out and fiscal stimulus that he needs to push through Capitol Hill in his first few weeks.

In contrast to George W. Bush, whose political “boy wonder”, Karl Rove, said the support of 51 per cent of Americans was all they needed to accomplish their agenda, Mr Obama wants to build a bigger tent that enables Americans to transcend partisan differences.

The only people left scratching their heads are the liberals, who thought the incoming president was one of their own. Instead of appealing to the “better angels of our nature”, as Abraham Lincoln did in his inauguration speech in 1865, many want Mr Obama to take the fight to the conservatives, whom they believe got America into a mess.

Which, of course, is precisely the WRONG thing to do, assuming we… the American people… want our gub’mint to actually DO something, rather than continue the political posturing that’s gotten us exactly nowhere over the last few years. There’s a reason Congress’ favorable public opinion ratings are the lowest in history, and it ain’t due to the wonderfulness of our culture-warriors carrying their flags into battle. Yet some on both sides of the aisle want to perpetuate the madness.

I’m NOT saying conservatives should roll over and buy everything The One is selling… far from it. We should remain the “loyal opposition” and oppose policies and legislation that are in contravention to our core values, e.g., fiscal responsibility, small government, a strong military. What I AM saying is similar to what Maggie Thatcher told President Reagan all those years ago about Mikhail Gorbachev: “This is a man we can work with.” Put another way: becoming “the party of NO” like the Democrats did during Dubya’s first six years in office ain’t exactly smart, yanno?

The initial indications about The One being a politician Republicans can work with are good. After all, one would be hard pressed to find someone who was more anti-Obama than Mr. Kristol. In the mainstream, that is, we both know there are nuts on either side of the wire, Gentle Reader. I’m cautiously hopeful about The One… and I think he’s gonna be a whole helluva lot easier to work with than those old culture warriors on the left… like Algore or John Frickin’ Kerry. The trick will be convincing the old culture warriors on the RIGHT this is so, tho.

Never forget: politics is ALL about compromise. T’was ever so.


  1. But the Left wants us all to "Compromise" which is code for 'Submit'.

    President Bush let these harpy's of the left distract our Country and indeed the world. They actually hijacked the world's good will after 9/11!

    Facts are meaningless.

    For instance; The clamoring "voices" say over and over that Bush Lied, People Died. But the real fact is that Congress overwhelmingly voted to allow the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Like children who don't want to accept responsibility for their actions, they claim that Congress was hoodwinked! By an idiot! (For the record; I think the President is an intelligent man)

    The President should have worked harder to make Congress declare war, the proper way. This would mean that each Congress-critter who did vote for this action would be responsible for his/her vote. Instead, they duck and dodge, using convenient "facts of the day".

    "No WMD's were ever found."


    550 tons of yellow cake uranium was shipped from Iraq to Canada in

    I notice that the economy started to hastily make its way to the rock bottom after the Democrats take the Senate and the House.

    As long as we allow felons and thieves to run Congress like it was their own bordello, we taxpayers are gonna be the "duty booty".

    I bet the IRS would say something if I forgot to pay taxes for three or four years. Or if I owned a number of rental properties and forgot to mention said income.

    The police would probably want to talk with me if I drove my Oldsmobile into a river, and forgot that there was a passenger still in it...

    Rant off.

    My blog has sunshine and cold beers. Have a fine day, Mr Buck!

  2. If I thought for one second that the Democrats would 1) learn how to behave as a minority from a good example set by the GOP and 2) not take the opportunity to stab the closest Republican in the back first chance they get, I'd be right there with you.

    I don't, however, believe either of those to be the case. The GOP will spend the next 4 to 8 years behaving with the respect and team mentality that was woefully missing from the "loyal opposition" over the last 8 years only to see the same despicable, infantile behavior on exhibit the very next time we have a Republican president.

    That said,I hope to be proven wrong.

  3. All I can say in buckle your seat belts folks for one heck of a ride, good and bad. It took all three branches of govenment to get us into this mess and it will take all three to get us out! Having a president from the same party as the majority house senate don't mean squat if they're not willing to put "party blinders" on and work for the betterment of this country. Great read Buck!

  4. It seems in the past both the Dems and the Reps in DC have gotten things wrong. They both think that America wants them to do battle, do nothing, backstab and hack at each other. I am hoping both parties have learned that they need to stop the bickering and move forward. Obama may be able to lead in this direction - I think he wants to do so. I think McCain would have moved us in that direction also. We will see how Congress actually works under the new president. Maybe if we could get rid of Pelosi and a few others...

  5. DC and Dave: I appreciate the thrust of your comments and agree, for the most part. I'm sure your Moms told you something similar to what my Mom told me: "If Billy jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?" Point being: we're the adults in the room. WE set the example. It does the country zero good if we act like petulant little children during the next two to four years. Like Democrats, in other words.

    Dale: Thank you, sir!

    Lou: I'll buy into "get rid of Pelosi" in a heartbeat. Not likely to happen, tho. One can always hope...

    I think we're on the same page.

  6. Bec said:

    After watching the complete event this morning, I have hope and pride, anger and sadness, awe and bittersweet love - all mixed together.

    I took offense at some of Obama's speech where he criticized the Bush Administration, but noticed Barack and Michelle's open and honest respect and affection for W and Laura personally. They even seemed to be chuckling affectionately along with the Bushes at poor Cheney's bad luck at having to attend in a wheelchair - this while waving goodbye from the steps. Maybe the Obamas have learned something. I felt hope at seeing this.

    The pageantry and peaceful transition of power - and the graciousness of the Bushes - will always be a highwater mark for me.

    I like that Obama and Michelle have a deep and genuine faith. They seem to respond genuinely to people with a good heart. I think that this will help them. Maybe the loony Left will learn something from that, too.

    The hypocrisy of so many on the Left is galling (I still feel ill when I see Reid and Pelosi), but the huge advancement that our country has made regarding people of color is thrilling.

    I had to watch it on Fox News, of course, as I CANNOT stand any hint of sneering or snide comments directed toward Bush right now (David Gergen comes to mind).

    I agree that much of our populace needs to relearn everything they thought they knew about Bush.

    I am so grateful to our President Bush and to Laura. I hope I will be able to say the same about President Obama and Michelle one day.

  7. Buck -

    Don't get me wrong - I have no intention of having an infantile eight-year pout like those that have plagued us during the Bush administration, and I will look unfavorably upon those that do.

    That said, I will confess to the very real possibility that I will enjoy quite a bit of schadenfreude as his more rabid followers realize that they were sold a bill of goods.

    I also will not refrain from harshly disagreeing with his more ridiculous ideas if he tries to implement them. The difference is that I believe that my criticism, even at its most caustic, will not cross the line of personal attack and argue the merits.

    I think I can avoid the inevitable conspiracy theories/accusations too. I never really bought into the whole Vince Foster thing, for example.

    But let me close by saying that he's getting off easy if he only receives a tenth of what his followers have spewed at Bush for the last eight years. Lucky indeed.

  8. Bec said:

    Hey, Buck. Our old "friend" is having a little trouble staying online. I wondered about that... ;)

  9. Bec sez: After watching the complete event this morning...

    EXTREMELY well-said, Bec, as always. I'll cut 'n' paste an excerpt of what I said at Lou's:

    I though Obama's speech was mid-grade. It began poorly but ended on a higher note. The One must know a whole helluva lot more about the state of America than I do (and he SHOULD, right?), but things don't look nearly as bleak from my vantage point here in P-Ville as he made them out to be.

    My jaw dropped when Lowery got to the end of his benediction. Because of this:

    Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. Say Amen

    Say WHAT? I'll cut Lowery some slack because of his age and where he's been (history, experience with Jim Crow and all that). But the "white embracing what's right" conditional statement was a poke in my eye. Uncalled for, at best, offensive at worst.

    And ARETHA! Best moments of the whole danged thing. Best hat, too.

    I watched on Fox News, as well, after a bit of surfing around. The others seemed to be engaged in some sort of "top THIS for fawning!" contest. Blech.

    Dave: We're on the same page... especially when you say this: "But let me close by saying that he's getting off easy if he only receives a tenth of what his followers have spewed at Bush for the last eight years. Lucky indeed."

    Yup. But you know there will be SOME of that sort of stuff, people being people. But not not from THIS corner of the room. I'll beat the shi'ite out of The One or any of his minions when I think they deserve it. But I'll support him as President of the United States.


Just be polite... that's all I ask.