Thursday, January 22, 2009

Was Obama's inaugural address truly non-partisan?

Some have argued it was. But Robert Ehrlich, writing in today's Washington Post, argues persuasively that it wasn't:

"[There was] this dangerous observation: "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works." (As though Americans should not focus on whether their government is too big or not big enough.) Then a nod to class-warfare rhetoric: "The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous." And, finally, a full retreat to limited economic horizons and a collective national guilt trip: To "those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."

And as I pointed out on inauguration day, Obama also took a partisan swipe at the Bush administration when he suggested we'd postponed hard decisions. The bailout measure passed last fall, whether one agrees with it or not, is hardly an example of waving one's hand at a tough decision.

David Broder today, unsurprisingly, begs to differ--he thinks Obama can and will bridge ideological and partisan divides:

"Ever since, he has been seeking and finding communities of larger and larger dimensions. That habit of reaching out can serve Obama and the country well."

Yes, he's won elections. But how many bills did he pass, either in the Illinois legislature or in the U.S. Senate? What about all those times he voted "present" in Illinois? What about the time when Rick Warren last summer asked when he believed life began, and Obama waved it aside, claiming such a decision was "above his pay grade"? The buck stops with him in the presidency; no decision can be waved aside. His record of legislation is mighty thin. The jury is still out on just what Obama is prepared to accomplish. And he's hardly the non-partisan politician some wish him to be. Yet, anyway.