Barely two days after Barack Obama is sworn in as President, the naysayers are turning out in force. Two of the angriest have landed on the Op-Ed page of The Washington Post.
Former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich is deeply disturbed by Obama’s suggestion that “The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.” That’s “a nod to class warfare rhetoric,” Ehrlich complains. He is equally unhappy with the proposal to use the federal government to “create new jobs.” Obama’s statement that whether government is too big or too small doesn’t matter – as long as it works – he labels “dangerous.”
The suggestion that Americans might be asked to “ante up” their “hard-earned dollars” to help their fellow citizens, is based on “a collective guilt trip,” the Governor says and he’ll have none of it. Ehrlich”s arguments reassert the old narrow philosophy that as long as I’m all right Jack, to hell with you. They are a throwback to an earlier time when it was considered okay for those that have to have more and those who have-not to have less. A time before the whole economy came crashing down on everyone’s head, the rich as well as the poor.
The election showed that a majority of Americans are awake now, we’ve looked at what we have wrought and determined it was time to take a different path. Ehrlich seems obstinately unwilling to face the new reality that swept in with Obama. Like some resurrected Herbert Hoover, he’s fighting the old, tired battles against big government when big government is the only game in town. He’s flapping his fear-flags in a wind that’s blowing the other way.
Fear-mongering is also at the heart of the essay by Marc Thiessen, chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush. He ardently waves the Bush mantra that the former President’s policies have kept the country safe from another terrorist strike, and he warns that should Obama change any of the Bush policies that ostensibly are responsible, he would be dooming his own Presidency should a terrorist strike occur. Furthermore, he says, “the Democratic Party could find itself unelectable for a generation.”
The message is this: Don’t you dare to tamper with waterboarding and other forms of torture, illegal wire-tapping, and the sundry other infamous Bush policies that purportedly are vital to the country’s security because the country can’t live up to its vaunted ideals and protect its civil liberties and be secure, too. That many of these Bush policies have in fact provided useful propaganda tools for enlisting increasing numbers of enemy insurgents – making us less, not more secure – seems beyond Theissen’s comprehension.
While reading this stuff tends to make my blood boil, it is good that The Washington Post is opening its editorial pages to the likes of Theissen and Ehrlich so we can know what it is that they are thinking and to warn us that in spite of the lofty talk about a new kind of politics, President Obama is probably in for a very rough ride ahead.