Barack Obama is doing something George W. Bush only dreamed about.
Both men spoke about removing the hate and animosity from Washington DC and the world.
George W. Bush failed largely because he viewed much of the world as part of the “Axis of Evil.” Even some Democrats seemed to qualify for the Axis.
Barack Obama, like Bush, has talked a good game about bipartisanship and reaching out to others.
Obama reached toward the entire Muslim world on al Arabiya yesterday and today he went into real enemy country by meeting with House and Senate Republicans.
Obama is trying to set a tone George “W” also wanted to set. Bush failed.
And a lot of players have to cooperate to make it work….
If Obama can get Pelosi on the leash, Ahmadinejad and the other Muslims should be a piece of cake….
Difficult to “Just Say No” To Obama
Barack Obama on al-Arabiya
Commentary by Kevin Hassett
President Barack Obama’s electoral success has much to do with his grasp of the American mood. Democratic and Republican Americans coexist peacefully every day and are unanimously disgusted by the increasingly negative tone of our politics.
Obama revealed last January that he shared those feelings of disgust, in his masterful acceptance speech after the Iowa caucuses: “You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division and instead make it about addition — to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States.”
It is noteworthy and accurate that bitterness and anger consume Washington. The virtue of Americans is not in question; the virtue of politicians is.
A similar theme was the high point of Obama’s inaugural address: “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”
While higher virtue is in itself a worthy goal, it has a practical reward as well. It is no coincidence that the tone of our government has degenerated at the same time as its performance. One could randomly select any corner of government today and find ample room for improvement, to say the least. There is nowhere an individual foolish enough, or an addict delirious enough, to design a government that works the way ours does.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer speak to reporters after bi-partisan meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and leading Republicans at the White House, January 23, 2009.(Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
There has been far too little wisdom in Washington. Obama recognizes the link between partisanship and folly.
This view is hardly new to world philosophy, foreshadowed as it was long ago by Aristotle, who wrote that “it is impossible to be practically wise without being good.” He added that “virtue makes us aim at the right end, and practical wisdom makes us take the right means.”
If there is a new spirit of hopefulness in this country, in spite of the terrible state of our national affairs, it may well have been kindled by Obama’s call to virtue. But such calls have been made before. George W. Bush himself became president because he had reached the same epiphany as Obama.
In his first inaugural address, in 2001, Bush restated a case that he had made throughout the election. “Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be petty because, in a time of peace, the stakes of our debates appear small,” he said.
He went on, “Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.”
When listing the failures of his presidency at a recent talk, Bush cited first his failure to restore civility. To succeed where Bush failed, Obama must recognize two truths.
First, civility begins at the beginning. In the next month, Obama will set a tone for Washington that will likely endure as long as he does. If he fails to live up to his rhetoric now, he will fail just as Bush did.
Second, civility begins at home. It is one thing to demand civility of one’s opponents, another thing altogether to demand it of one’s own party.
Obama faced an early test last week, when, in the midst of the debate over economic stimulus, Democrats worked to shut Republicans out of the policy process, then behaved boorishly when Republicans complained.
Democratic leaders responded with the political equivalent of a sack dance in football. “If it’s passed with 63 votes or 73 votes, history won’t remember it,” said Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois.
Yes We Did
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added to the mood by saying, “Yes, we wrote the bill. Yes, we won the election.”