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93 responses to “Open Obama Inauguration thread”

  1. Nickws

    Take these figures with a grain of salt, I’m still not quite certain where I found them, but historical attendances are,

    Lyndon B. Johnson (1965) – 1.2 million
    Bill Clinton (1993) – 800,000
    George W. Bush (2001) – 500,000
    Ronald Reagan (1981) – 500,000
    Jimmy Carter (1977) – 350,000
    George H.W. Bush (1989) – 300,000
    Richard Nixon (1973) – 300,000

    and Obama is supposed to draw a bigger crowd than LBJ’s inauguration, which was a ritual of national unity after the death of JFK, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the launching of the ‘war on poverty’ etc.

    At some point you have to stop asking yourself things like, “So, it’s all a con by the liberal MSM,” or “Bread and circuses for the Empire’s loyal plebeians!”

  2. Barack Obama Art

    Nick, I completely agree with you, this is definitely one for the record books.
    Barack Obama is now running the nation, not solely, but with the aid of many.
    This is really a great day in history!

    Please check out this amazing piece of artwork commemorating this very day in history.

    The Barack Obama Inauguration Celebration
    Check it out here

  3. Nobody

    A truly appalling speech plumbing the worst excesses of American hubris, as per usual. Despite being in the midsts of a few crises of its own creation, America is still sure it’s the bestest and most powerful in the world and will be projecting its power to convert everyone else, everywhere else into a God-given synchrony with American ‘interests’ and notions about equality, freedom, and blah until all of Americas ‘problems’ just disappear into a world remade to suit its express programme of cultural and every other kind of hegemony. Absolutely no critical reflection about what it is about American values or American culture or American ‘patriotism’ which seems to have had America embroiled in so many crises at home and abroad over a very large time period, not just the present. And we’re all meant to leave childish things behind and accept an America now freshly hopeful and ready to lead the world into a new American-like Utopia after a few more sacrifices and a stint in the cold of a reheated Cold War? Get real! It’s the same ol’ PNAC agenda with some new window-dressing. (Imho)

  4. Dave McRae

    Set the alarm clock for 3 am

    Top speech – what a morning 🙂

    I think the Aust Financial Review last weekend’s piece on Obama has it pegged – even if this bloke does nothing (and that’s unlikely), American people will be pulling together together from all political positions, and the goodwill extended to America across the globe, will ensure that great works will happen.

  5. Robert Merkel

    One line that struck me:

    For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers.

    Yay, us heathens get some recognition for once…

  6. Katz

    Obama to America: “Grow up.”

  7. Rachel

    Albrechtsen takes the irony award for her piece in The Oz today.


    Of course we’re all expected to overlook her shameless fawning of all things Howard and Bush.

  8. FDB

    Thanks for that Rob M.

    I am frankly in shock that atheists got a mention, and without the world catching fire or nothin’ too!

  9. myriad

    Thanks Mark for a very good post. You have helped me coalesce some of my feelings about this moment. I’m also ‘married’ to a profoundly unpatriotic American, and it’s interesting to watch how she responds to this – it’s something that will unfold after a little time I think.

    I have to say that while there are many (most)things about American politics I would reject, I’m a little envious right now of them having someone who offers language that inspires – with the usual caveat that such language will mean diddly if Obama doesn’t deliver meaningfully soon.

    There is a palpable sense of renewal and a willingness to pull together amongst Americans at the moment, and I wish Australia had some of that. We are facing more or less the same crises, particularly when it comes to climate change, and I think at this point I’d pay good money to see and hear our leaders using similar language about economic renewal and climate / environmental sustainability, one couched in creative opportunity from crisis.

    The other point I’d note about Obama’s election is how meaningful it is for Africans and other people of colour, and minorities, everywhere. Commentary from around the world suggests that his very presence will help change the level of racism and prejudice – for example, black Brazilians say they have already seen a change in the discrimination they face. Here in Tasmania where I work with refugees, African families paid for a put on a special celebratory bbq, and talked with shining sincerity of how much it means to them, for whom Obama is a tangible symbol and message that they can overcome prejudice, and someone who inspires their children like no-one else has.

    That alone is a gift to the world, even if Obama himself is not entirely responsible for it.

    As for what his presidency will achieve and mean, I think this says it all.

  10. Robert Merkel

    Sam Wylie’s spotted a goof in the speech – only 43 people have taken the oath of office. Grover Cleveland is the anomaly, as he served two non-consecutive terms.

    Not very West Wing – Toby Ziegler would have taken great pleasure in pointing that one out to Sam Seaborn…

  11. Nobody

    I assume we can all just ignore the expressed platform for continued global power projection, the overt doctrine of manifest destiny, the continuing programme of American exceptionalism and divine (ad)vantage, as the world is expected to unite behind a unitary agenda for the aforementioned because change is promised and some fuzzies are delivered, even as America declares itself ready to lead the world again post-tribulation? Cool. Top speech. Same speech Bush gave in 2001, but no matter.

  12. Shaun

    Given that after Justice Roberts screwed up the wording of the oath and then Obama got it wrong could it be that OH NOES! He is not properly the president!

    Conspiracy theorists please for an orderly queue to the left. Looney legal nutters that Obama was not properly sworn in a president due to incorrectly reciting the oath, go to the right.

  13. Peter

    Didn’t watch it.

    Did he walk on water for an encore?

  14. Ambigulous

    and Shaun, the misunderreciting unfortunately overprominenced the word “execution” 😉

    Early days. In God We Trust.

  15. Katz

    Nobody (the commenter) is correct.

    In terms of rhetoric, these addresses are shake’n’bake. There isn’t much to choose between Bush’s words and Obama’s words. Check this out:

    The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born.

    Americans are called to enact this promise in our lives and in our laws. And though our nation has sometimes halted, and sometimes delayed, we must follow no other course.

    Through much of the last century, America’s faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.

    Our democratic faith is more than the creed of our country, it is the inborn hope of our humanity, an ideal we carry but do not own, a trust we bear and pass along. And even after nearly 225 years, we have a long way yet to travel.

    While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth. And sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country.

    Bush or Obama?

    Sincerity and follow-through are what counts.

  16. Peterc

    I got up to watch the speech. I was blown away by the crowds and sentiments. It certainly looks like a renewal for America – as Obama says – they (and the world, including Australia) needs to take some new directions.

    I particularly liked his mention of the new economy and focus on better delivery of services:

    For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

    I was also struck by this part – which could describe Israel’s recent atrocities in Gaza – but obviously was directed at “terrorism” in general:

    and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

    Overall, a great day. Hopefully the US will now re-engage with the rest of the world in a more considered and humane fashion.

  17. Alister

    Mark, one reason for the coverage in the Australian media (apart from that we’re interested in it) is that it’s cheap. Network cost cutting being what it is, filling a day with cheap rubbish is great news for a network executive. All you need to do is beam in CNN and top and tail it with some talking head from your network – someone who looks passable in a suit and can read moving type would do.

  18. Paul Burns

    I had to watch the speech on morning Tv as I was too tired to stay up last night.
    Sure, there are the usual themes of American exzceptionalism and Americathe chosen country of God Almighty, etc,and I Wholeheartedly agree with such criticisms.
    But there were some really interesting things worth applauding as well. Like his appeal to all races and creeds, including non-believers to work together. Like the way he very subtly tipped a huge bucket of shit on the Bush legacy. In the telecast I saw, the camera swung to Bush right then, and he didn’t look happy. But what could he do? This man was his President. Loved it.
    There were subtle intimations he would talk to Cuba (Michelle’s dress was designed by a Cuban designer. That couldn’t have been accidental. And I don’t think it indicated support for the RWDBs in Florida.)
    He’s obviously going to make a sincere attempt to reach out to the Muslim world, and that’s excellent, so long as its not another mask of American imperialism. I don’t think the Israelis will be that happy – another commenter above has noted the illusion to the Gaza war.
    Now, as many of you have indicated, he just has to deliver.

  19. wbb

    As one who’s main pleasure in life is good old schadenfreude, I very much enjoyed George Bush having to sit quietly there next to his faithful few, while being thoroughly trashed in front of the millions.

  20. myriad

    hear hear wbb.

  21. MH

    a superpower in decline, both economically and politically

    My concern with this comment is that it has been made so often before, for decades. It makes all sorts of assumptions about the nature of global power that are inevitably simplistic. None of that is to understate the challenges Obama faces, though, even if he comes to power with as great a mandate for change as any president.

  22. Fine

    I note that Ted Kennedy collapsed, which is sad – yet somehow apt. It’s like the good guy got in and now he his work is done.

  23. gilmae

    Robert Merkel: I love how various communities with an over-representation of atheists – Metafilter, for example – have gone giddy all over again for Barack over ‘non-believers’. Also, I wonder if his speechwriter – that 27 year old – kept hearing Reverend Lovejoy saying “miscellaneous” in his head like I am. Or is he far too young to remember that episode :- )

  24. wbb

    And how excellent was Cheney’s choreographic contribution, to exit the scene in Dr Strangelove’s wheelie. Nice touch, Dick.

  25. Katz

    And the wingnut blogosphere is frothing at the mouth that anyone noticed the resemblance between Cheney and Strangelove.

    And the have a point: Dr Strangelove was a weird dude who was obsessed with weaponry and dreams of world domination. Whereas, Dick Cheney was …

    oh … wait…

  26. wbb

    Obama’s new North Korean diplomacy track: “Mellow out, fella.”

  27. frog

    I was woken up and chose to watch the inauguration. The speech was beautifully crafted and delivered. As to its contents, its metatheme of unity among difference seems to be something that is fundamental to the American political psyche. I’ve been intrigued by it throughout this campaign in particular. It’s counterpart is the attachment to liberty and I don’t think the role of these two ideas can be underestimated. While there was a clear move away from the Bush era among voters, it seems that the Democrats’ choice for Obama rather than Hillary Clinton may have been based on these founding myths (and I don’t mean myths in a derogatory or fairytale sense, but rather in the sense of general beliefs about political institutions and cultures and their meaning). It seems that Obama represented two types of change: the obvious one being the change to the policies and program of the Democratic Party, but the more profound change towards a person who so clearly represented those bedrock ideals of unity and liberty.

    It will be very interesting to see this Presidency develop. It is too easy to dismiss his speeches as empty rhetoric; his work background suggests a sincere preference for cooperation and a preparedness to consider a range of views. Political institutions are notoriously resistant to change but when they do change, it is the result of people who decide to do things differently. Change in the conduct of American politics is probable; it’s character and extent remain unknown.

  28. Katz

    There’s one huge novelty in Obama’s speech, which I have just heard replayed on radio.

    Obama mentioned “the Muslim world”.

    I am confident that this is the first time that a religion has been explicitly named and identified in an inaugural address.

    This suggests a significant change in approach to, well, the Muslim world.

    Firstly this world has been conceded to exist.

    Secondly, Obama’s reference suggests that Bush’s bellicosity has made unnecessary enemies.

    Thirdly, Obama’s reference suggests that his administration will be accentuating much more the “soft power” about which RDBWs have expressed so much contempt.

    But Obama’s concession, in the context of this speech, is huge.

  29. FDB

    “I am confident that this is the first time that a religion has been explicitly named and identified in an inaugural address.”

    Other than Christianity, I’m assuming.

  30. Katz

    Nope. I doubt that Christianity, or any of its denominations, have ever been mentioned.

    (I except the compulsory references to God.)

  31. Liam

    John Adams:

    …I feel it to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service, can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes, it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction of the two Houses shall not be without effect.

  32. Liam

    George W. Bush:

    Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people.

  33. Liam

    Abraham Lincoln:

    Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.

  34. FDB

    BushII actually mentioned the “truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, and the words of the Koran” in his second go-around.

  35. FDB

    Tardy. Boring. Sorry.

  36. Mark

    Update: New post here with links to the speech and commentary on some interesting but probably overlooked angles.

  37. Katz

    Good ferreting guys.

    The Adams ref is a circuitous and conditional reference to his own Christianity.

    The Lincoln ref is a plea to would-be rebels to stop their rebellion and to behave like Christians.

    They are references to the Christian ethos rather than to Christian denominations.

    But it is true that they are references to Christianity.

  38. Mark

    I haven’t checked his inaugural, but I’ve just been reading a biog of LBJ and there are tons of instances in his speeches where he invokes Christian themes for public purposes.

  39. wbb

    Maybe the ref to atheists is a first, then? (Not counting aspersions cast at goddamned commies, I mean.)

  40. FDB

    Yes, wbb – that’s my favourite bit too.

    Apparently you can care and matter in the US polity without believing in boogy-men of any stripe. Who knew?

  41. Liam

    They are references to the Christian ethos rather than to Christian denominations.
    it is true that they are references to Christianity.

    That’s all you needed to say, Katz. Heh.

  42. Katz

    That’s all you needed to say, Katz. Heh.

  43. Liam


  44. Katz

    But typographical badinage aside, Obama’s reference to a “Muslim world” does appear to represent an important shift in rhetoric and perhaps perception.

  45. Katz

    And to draw a line to references to Communism, the rhetoric of inaugurals, especially Truman’s Eisenhower’s 2nd and Kennedy’s was that Communism was a tyranny imposed upon its victims. No ordinary civiliam, according to this view, wanted to live as a Communist.

    Barack Obama’s reference to the Muslim world carries with it the implication that Muslims like being Muslims and would not voluntarily change their religion, presumably many of their social practices.

  46. Ambigulous

    Yes, Katz

    And plenty of other subtleties in the speech too. Power grows through co-operation with other nations. The US should be humble.

    I’m not claiming he’s a pacifist, but perhaps he’s a diplomat?

  47. Ambigulous

    I didn’t mean “yes” to Katz’s comment on communist rule.

    Katz: “the rhetoric of inaugurals, especially Truman’s Eisenhower’s 2nd and Kennedy’s was that Communism was a tyranny imposed upon its victims. No ordinary civiliam, according to this view, wanted to live as a Communist.”

    And how wrong those Presidents were, eh? As soon as the Communist regimes followed Gorbachev’s lead in restoring multi-party democracy, the voters said, “No! We want our one-party State back! We abhor all other Parties and Factions!! We love Communism.”

    In their enthusiastic droves.

  48. Katz

    The fact that it is true doesn’t disqualify it from being rhetoric.

  49. Adrien

    LarvatusprodeodotAlt services Obama edition:
    If you’re staying up to watch Barack Obama’s inauguration as 44th President of the United States of America…
    Then you really need to get a life. 🙂

  50. grace pettigrew

    Unbearably stupid television commentary tonight from brainless news stringers telling us that he will soon have to put all this celebration aside and “get down to work”. Really. Had to turn it all off and just watch.

    Just noticed that Obama is LEFT-handed.

    And he’s a drug addict (he will have to stand outside on the WhiteHouse doorstep for a private toke, driving his security detail nuts). And he does that gorgeous sway dance like Nelson Mandela (Kenya and Transkei are close by). And he does not fear the “non-religious”, how refreshing. And I am told he has a Mandarin-speaking half-brother living in China. That’s handy.

    But the best bit was surely Dick Cheney channelling Peter Sellers in the wheelchair…better even than shooting his best friend in the face. What a character. Who invented him?

    Its all lovely, and he is clearly a decent man. But at the back of all our good wishes must be that scary thought: how long before the bastards take him down.

  51. Adrien

    Barack Obama’s reference to the Muslim world carries with it the implication that Muslims like being Muslims and would not voluntarily change their religion, presumably many of their social practices.
    This is a little unclear. Are you saying that Islam is like Communism? It’s not you know. And despite the images we have of Islam that usually come from some backwater, the Islamic world has its cosmopolitans as well.
    In any event the social practices of the Islamic world are really not Obama’s business.

  52. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Speaking of Communism…

    China has censored parts of the new US president’s inauguration speech that have appeared on a number of websites. Live footage of the event on state television also cut away from Barack Obama when communism was mentioned.

    China’s leaders appear to have been upset by references to facing down communism and silencing dissent. English-language versions of the speech have been allowed on the internet, but many of the Chinese translations have omitted sensitive sections…

    China Central Television, the country’s main broadcaster, aired the speech live with a simultaneous Chinese translation. But when the translator got to the part where President Obama talked about facing down communism, her voice suddenly faded away. The programme suddenly cut back to the studio, where an off-guard presenter had to quickly ask a guest a question.

    Embarrassing for the Chinese, I’m sure. I’ve asked my wife to find out if the same thing happened in Vi?t Nam.

  53. Katz

    That’s a very interesting Chinese response, because in the case of China (and Vietnam) the US did not “face down” communism.

    Indeed, it is Chinese capital that prevents the US from curling up and blowing away like a chip.

  54. GregM

    <blockquoteThat’s a very interesting Chinese response, because in the case of China (and Vietnam) the US did not “face down” communism.t

    This must be the most farcical misunderstanding and misinterpretation of history that has ever appeared on LP.

    The whole point of the Chinese response is that the US, and the Chinese, faced down communism.

    Only Katz could miss this.

  55. Katz

    Perhaps GregM would like to elucidate on how he would explain to the Chinese authorities that they are, in fact, not communist.

    As ever, GregM has attempted rhetorical overkill and has shot himself in the foot, again.

    Poor GregM. His much abused pedal extremities must look like Swiss cheese by now.

  56. Ambigulous


    As far as I can tell from this distance, the Chinese authorities are “Communist” in name only. That’s if one accepts that a communist regime must have certain of the following characteristics in order to be ‘worthy’ of Lenin’s mantle: State ownership of all enterprises, collectivisation in agriculture, repression of religion & free speech, State monopolies as far as the eye can see, no independent unions, plenty of secret police, no independent legal system, no capitalists, etc.

    It’s true that China has retained some elements of basic communism. But even those are weakened. It has the authoritarian practices, but (seemingly) without the indusrial/agricultural/ownership/distribution attributes. Its rulers purport to be “Communist”. Surely you don’t just accept a group’s self-labelling as authoritative? You do look at the social realities, don’t you?

    Long ago, a tragic example of foreign acceptance of self-description was the foolish “give the Kampuchean authorities the benefit of the doubt” approach, circa 1975-1977, by many who had opposed US intervention in Indochina. Realistic information was difficult to obtain; the KR had closed off the country. The KR poured out their self-praise on radio. Some mob says they’re “socialists” or “revolutionaries” or “Communists”; it ain’t necessarily so!

  57. Ambigulous

    Katz @ 48

    Yes, you’re correct about the definition of ‘rhetoric’. Thanks.

  58. Katz

    All that is true Ambi, and I wouldn’t want to argue against just how far China has strayed from Marxism/Leninism.

    But that isn’t the issue in GregM’s extraordinary brain-fart.

    Neither the US nor anyone in China has “faced down” communism in China. Rather, the Chinese regime has slid surreptitiously away from M-L doctrine while the rest of the world has looked on in wonder.

    Did Bush “face down” free market capitalism when he nationalised large parts of the US financial system? Of course not. He slid surreptitiusly into survival mode. And of course in this case too, the rest of the world looked on in wonder, but a different kind of wonder.

    If the Chinese authorities had been proud of their “facing down” communism, it is likely that they would have been very pleased to let Barack Obama’s comments about communism go through to the Chinese viewers.

    But self-evidently, the Chinese authorities were not proud of their supposed achievement.

  59. Adrien

    And now for some really atrocious poetry:

    Poetry is what you find
    in the dirt in the corner,
    overhear on the bus, God
    in the details, the only way
    to get from here to there.
    Poetry (and now my voice is rising)
    is not all love, love, love,
    and I’m sorry the dog died.

    Elizabeth Alexander
    Obama’s Inauguration Poet
    (Get a job).

  60. wbb

    The poem was actually great when you listened to her read the whole thing.

  61. adrian

    Agreed wbb. Everyone’s a friggin’ critic these days.

  62. Paul Burns

    Adrien @ 59,
    I love poetry. In fact some times I even write it, and, years ago, when I was prolific, had some published. I still read (and re-read) a fair bit of it. But the fact that a lot of poetry is atrocious. Well, that just ain’t a big deal.
    The rubbish the preacxher spouted was worse.

  63. Adrien

    Paul – Well yeah I s’pose it ain’t the most important issue but seriously. There’s a lot of naff stuff out there but this is particularly bad.
    WBB and Adrian – Well I’m not going to be going there any time soon sorry. De gustibus non est disputandum and all that. Still the above and what else I’ve read is the same old broken prose sans metre or even evocation. It’s not even good prose.

  64. Pavlov's Cat

    Adrien: say why, go on. ‘It’s bad’ isn’t good enough.

  65. FF

    Couple of things that struck me in the tv coverage, not mentioned thus. George Bush Jnr’s face. I really felt sorry for him (I know, I know). Poor dear.

    And then the glimpses of Obama’s brow-mopping, nicorette-gum-chewing profile filmed from through the tinted windows of his 21st century chariot.

  66. Anita

    I’m in agreement with Pavlov’s Cat. Precisely what is wrong with it, and why? Do tell, Adrien.

    “It’s a bad pome innit, just shite, gerra job you slapper” = bombastic bluster, not thoughtful criticism.

  67. wbb

    As a 5 year nicorette addict, I’d advise Obama to try some other method.

  68. joe2

    The poem was great if one was prepared to listen and give it go.
    Also, the music was terrific. Air and Simple Graces was arranged by John Williams and performed with extraordinary energy. Obama seemed to bliss out on that one if you watched closely.

  69. The Name Of This Next Song Is "Don't Worry About The Government"

    So… you leftards have finally moved in to the swampland you’ve purchased… with great effort, and at the cost of every last drop of your dignity and integrity.*


    So, now that we’re all settled in all cosy and so forth, you know what I think would be fun? How about we all sit down and play a friendly little hand of poker? Let’s say jacks or better, just to make it interesting…

    * — the best part is, since leftists have no idea what they really sound like, you don’t even know what ‘dignity’ and ‘integrity’ even mean, let alone your own goofy understanding of these words…

  70. Peter

    Also, the music was terrific. Air and Simple Graces was arranged by John Williams and performed with extraordinary energy.

    It was pre recorded.

  71. Paul Burns

    If you think everyone on the left is floating blissfully because of the election of Obama, you should read some of the raves about him on the World Socialist Website. Personally, I think they’re mostly right over the top, and I’m a socialist, but now and then they have a point.
    Think again, TNOTNSI…

  72. Katz

    Re #69

    I’ve noticed an upsurge of embittered sour grapes comments erupting from Rightard (retard?) mouthpieces.

    This rhetoric appears to have been first adopted by neo-liberals in the wake of the world financial tsunami who have watched on in horror as their favourite nostrums were slaughtered by their supposed champions in the Bush clique.

    The election of Obama has caused many Rightards to lose all reason.

    Rush Limbaugh: “I hope he fails.” Translation — “My prejudices are more precious than the welfare of my fellow citizens.”

    For the record, I agree with PB. Just imagine the outbreak of exploding Rightard brains if Obama really were a radical.

  73. Liam

    I’m in, #69 (that you JPZ?)
    What say we make it high-low, so we can split pots by our great and small expectations?

  74. Paul Burns

    More to the point 69, and i think I’ve said this before. despite the criticisms and quibbles some on the far left have about Obama, some of them plain misinformed, and some of them apparently not aware of the compromises Presidents have to make to get legislation through the US Congress, (my Socialism is always qualified by realpolitik and a desire to win one over the RWDBs, even if its only a partial win) the fact remains that Obama seems to be a good and decent man. (And the romantic in me is absolutely chuffed at the wonderful love story of his relationship with Michelle, obviously ongoing, and how he puts his children first – a kid’s Inauguration Party – now that’s a notable first).
    Let’s face it. The number of truly good and decent politicians running the world is few and far between. So let’s celebrate that we’ve got at least one, even if he is a capitalist/imperialist American.

  75. Peter Kemp

    Another example Katz:

    This particularly ugly meme is rapidly gaining favor on the right. It was recently advanced in the Washington Post by George W. Bush’s ex-speechwriter, Marc Thiessen, who opined:

    “President Obama has inherited a set of tools that successfully protected the country for 2,688 days — and he cannot dismantle those tools without risking catastrophic consequences. On Tuesday, George W. Bush told a cheering crowd in Midland, Tex., that his administration had left office without another terrorist attack. When Barack Obama returns to Chicago at the end of his time in office, will he be able to say the same?”

    Today, as Steve Benen notes, Thiessen went even farther over the top at The Corner in proclaiming Barack Obama “the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office.” Hysterical and silly doesn’t begin to cover it.

    As Jason Zengerle adroitly observed, “You almost get the sense guys like Thiessen are hoping for an attack so that they can blame Obama when it happens.”

    Shorter neocon: We cannot accept the era of executive criminality is over, nor the vicarious utility of torture the set of tools Bush created, in a climate of fear, that won us so many votes.

  76. Nickws

    the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office

    That line by Thiessen (a former special aide to the 43rd prez?) is pretty hardcore.

    You’d think someone writing for the media organ created by WFB, jr., might leave himself a little wriggle room in his denunciations of Obama.

    It’s almost as if he’s hoping that an enraged ‘patriot’ might read it and take matters into his own ‘lonewolf’ hands

  77. Adrien

    Anita #66 – It’s a bad pome innit, just shite, gerra job you slapper” = bombastic bluster, not thoughtful criticism.
    Interesting caricature of my criticism. I’ve never used the word ‘slapper’ in my life btw.
    Okay PC et al. The poem, or at least what I’ve read of it is bad because:
    1. There is no music. To me poetry whether modern or traditional blank or rhyme is something that fundamentally makes music with words. You can do this in various ways, but somehow you hear the music. I don’t. I suspect an Emperor’s New clothes conspiracy amongst the poem’s defenders as well. Some say: well she didn’t do a good reading. Others says: Well you’d like if only you’d heard her read it? Which is it.
    2. It evokes no image above the merely banal masquerading as something deep. Poetry is also the evocation of the Mystery: Here we have:

    Poetry is what you find
    in the dirt in the corner,
    overhear on the bus, God
    in the details, the only way
    to get from here to there.

    The only thing I’ll pay here is that poetry can be overheard on a bus. Sure you can hear poetry, do hear poetry (provided you possess the ear) in the fragments of every day speech. But to lay claim to the name – bard methinks you need to put it in a way a mite more interesting than simply saying it’s something you overhear on a bus. Anybody can say that. Dirt in the corner? Well that’s preposterous unless you evoke it. She hasn’t.
    Nowhere in the text I’m familiar with is there anything but the merely banal made to look ‘poetic’ by breaking of ordinary and limpid prose via commas and unseeming references to ‘God’ and ‘love’ that ring hollow. It’s very little blown large by bandit grammar.

    To discern paeans splendiferous
    In the grimey tove carbunkle’d mire
    Or amongst the peasant trainload’s squires
    Ye must have the ears

  78. Paul Burns

    ‘bandit grammar’ – I’ll remember that one. Probably use it if I ever have to mark essays again.

  79. The Name of This Next Song Is "Crosseyed And Painless"

    Katz: “I’ve noticed an upsurge of embittered sour grapes comments erupting from Rightard (retard?) mouthpieces.”

    You know, I’m always quite encouraged whenever online combatants are reduced to referring to their antagonists as “bitter,” or “embittered,” or even the old ‘sour grapes’ routine — generally a reliable sign they know very well that their own ship has blown a hole big enough to sink it. As if the duty to oppose on principle had expired with the last electoral victory, or loss. All of a sudden, quite out of the blue, you geniuses suddenly see the need for bipartisanship. How definitionally childish. In other words, how “Just Like A Leftist.”

    Funny, too — it seems to me that the words “Katz” “Bush” and “Chimp” enjoy a long and fascinating relationship — but we wouldn’t stoop to call that ‘bitter’ now would we?

    Face it, Spanky — you and your ilk pawned your honor down to the last penny you could scrounge under the sofa cushions, to put your own meretricious shit-heel in the big office; and now you have to eat all the criticism, every last fucking crumb of it, that comes with getting to put your hand on the Big Joystick. Deal with it, Alfalfa. You showed no dignity, no thoughtfulness, no civic honor, no manners whatsoever, when you were down during the Bush years. Your kind literally egged Mr. Bush, on his first inauguration day in January 2001. And you expect good manners in return, now, all of a sudden? I think you know exactly where to shove that one.

    —Gee, now that didn’t sound very nice at all, did it? And I didn’t even enjoy saying it, and I probably even regret more than half of it. Well now you know just a bit of what you and your ilk have sounded like, for years and years and years. Actually you don’t even know the half of it yet. And I was never even a fan of George Bush, to say the least, I just believe in rational discourse as the shortest distance between points. You and your kind have shown, again and again and again, that you don’t. So chalk this up to the getting of wisdom — and don’t expect a honeymoon for this Bazooka Joe comic of a leader, either — the press used it up for you already.

    See Matthew 5:46-47, for a bit of education, for once in your life.

    — j_p_z, who’s artfully resisted the urge to say what he *really* thinks…

    And yes, Liam, these monikers are a joke for FDB, since probably nobody else will enjoy them…

  80. Behemoth

    While I think that calling Obama a “meretricious shit-heel” is a bit premature jpz,(give him time) I can see your overall point. The well was poisoned from the start and no one can get on their high horse about invective thrown at their chosen ones after cheerfully flinging poo at others choices.

    As it ever was. Newspapers of the time used to cheerfully and regularly refer to the 16th POTUS as Ape Lincoln (with all the racial innuendo of the time knowingly freighted in), late 18th English political cartoons couldn’t be published now and the attack ads of ancient Rome would make Karl Rove blush.

    So you either go all in and accept it all coming back or take the high road – where you’ll never suffer traffic jams. Either way, no whinging.

    Having said all that, I do think Americans have a somewhat inflamed respect for the office the prez if not the person occupying it. Some American, I can’t immediately recall who, once said to me over a drink that the whole President thang really needed the steam let out of it.

    One of the issues that I’ve noticed often crops up on blogs is that the Australians and Brits have quite a different approach to the Yanks when it comes to framing and assessing political offices, especially the highest one of the land. Perhaps because in America the Head of Government and the Head of State are the same person. Whereas in AusBritCanNZ, the Head of State is both basically off limits and irrelevant whereas the the Head of Government is a ducking and weaving target.

    Which is not say they don’t go after their Heads of Government with equally savage gusto in the States, but they also have walk a weird line in that their target is also the Head of State. An interesting datum here is that ex Presidents still retain their titles but the moment Howard or Blair moves on suddenly they’re ordinary citizens again with no special rights or titles.

    Personally? I egged Dubya right from the start for his daft decisions (although I have a sneaking suspicion I’d have had a damn good night out with him in his drinking years) and am quite prepared to enjoy a good egging of Obama when he fucks up too. But only throw the eggs when you have a clear target beyond generalised unease and bitterness.

    Why waste your ammo on an attitude? Wait till you see the whites of their eyes rolling up when they’re caught out and they know you know it.

    The snarkster formerly know as Nabakov

  81. Katz

    Au contraire, Japerz.

    I played no part in Bush’s rise, either supporting him, nor opposing him.

    I was indifferent to him until he made a series of epic mistakes. Then I watched with forensic interest as his schemes fell to the ground.

    I wasn’t embittered at all. Indeed, I was hopeful that the American people would eventually perceive the inadequacy of the man and his regime. This took longer than I thought it would. But eventually it did happen. No, I was never embittered. I was hopeful.

    And the American people proved to be worthy of my hope.

    And I played no part in Obama’s rise either but will look on with interest for any epic mistakes that he may make.

    So, as far as I’m concerned, give it your best shot.

    Nab’s point about Head of State/Head of Government is an interesting one.

  82. j_p_z

    Well, nothing shows up the overdone nature of an overheated comment like a civilized tone and a bit of puckishness, so bravo to you both, Katz and Nabs/Behemoth.

    Personally I think the quality of American political discourse has been in particularly steep and sour decline (not that it was ever exactly Olympian to begin with) starting around the time of Ken Starr poking around in Clinton’s underpants. For a while it was just a sort of highly unpleasant tit-for-tat, but after 9/11 nobody seemed to notice it was a luxury the nation could no longer afford. As I’ve argued before, I believe many of Bush’s glaring faults were exacerbated by the abdication of an intelligent and principled opposition in favor of egg-flinging and Hitler moustaches.

    Now it’s devolved to the point where, politically speaking, many many people (the new president included, apparently) have forgotten what certain classes of important words actually mean, and no longer understand the basic principles of American political and civic life. All this started well before Obama showed up, but the humid atmosphere of cultishness surrounding him is unhealthy and will only make matters worse. Plus the fact that it’s quite dangerous for such a powerful figure to be surrounded with such a thick coating of lapdogs and adoring goo. The intense and crazed hatred of Bush was highly counterproductive; so is the intense and crazed adoration of the next joker in line. (As well as the mad demonization of anybody who doesn’t happen to enjoy the taste of Kool-Aid.). You should see what the graffitti looks like around here. There’s madness afoot.

    The more people start taking a clear-eyed skeptical view of things, the safer the world will be until we can finally come to our senses and elect someone nice and boring. I’m less concerned about the D- or the R- part, but man, I could sure use some boredom.

  83. Katz

    Japerz, I trust that you are not implying that it is legitimate for Bush to plead, “I invaded the world because some fellow Americans called me nasty names.” Leadership requires more grit and insight than that. Much more.

    Cultishness is never a good thing. I’m not convinced that Obama is guilty of encouraging it. Perhaps it is an expression of sheer relief that will dissipate as the inevitable roadblocks and compromises emerge.

  84. Stay Hungry

    “The intense and crazed hatred of Bush was highly counterproductive

    Leaving aside for the moment that you seem to be lumping a lot of quite reasonable and considered Bush criticism in this ugly category…

    Counterproductive to what exactly?

  85. adrian

    Good question hungry. I think most of us know the answer unfortunately.

  86. Nickws

    For a while it was just a sort of highly unpleasant tit-for-tat, but after 9/11 nobody seemed to notice it was a luxury the nation could no longer afford. As I’ve argued before, I believe many of Bush’s glaring faults were exacerbated by the abdication of an intelligent and principled opposition in favor of egg-flinging and Hitler moustaches.

    The intense and crazed hatred of Bush was highly counterproductive; so is the intense and crazed adoration of the next joker in line. (As well as the mad demonization of anybody who doesn’t happen to enjoy the taste of Kool-Aid.). You should see what the graffitti looks like around here. There’s madness afoot

    j_p_z, as a self-styled clear eyed pragmatist who has contributed monumentally to the wordcount here at LP on threads about the 43rd and 44th POTUSES, do you have anything negative to say whatsoever about 43, apart from some creative reasoning about Michael-Moore-type activists, and how Bush’s major mistake was letting them undermine his alpha male status, or somethink?

    BTW, that quote of your’s above that I highlighted seems to be missing a little something. I wonder what it could be? Oh, that’s right, a basic acknowledgement that such a thing as ‘intense and crazed adoration FOR Bush’ could ever have existed. Strange that someone as even-handed as you could glance over that.

    Oh well, if you’re capable of referring to 44 as a `shitheel’ then I suppose your canon here at LP must include criticism of Bush that makes sense to real world observers of the US political scene.

    (Also, I asked you on another thread when it was that you discovered that the unfortunate, put upon Bush was a liberal and unworthy of your support. I’m still thinking Dubai ports–give us a clue, was it that or McCain-Kennedy?)

  87. The Girls Want To Be With The Girls

    FDB: “counterproductive to what?”

    Well, broadly speaking, counterproductive to building a realistically functional political coalition capable of reining in Bush and defeating him politically where and when it mattered the most (for all intents and purposes, let’s say Iraq). Parallel to that, counterproductive to creating a discourse of opposition large enough, elastic enough, and responsible enough to have addressed the major questions in a problem-solving way that offered real implementable alternatives to Bush’s most objectionable actions. Bush should have lost the 2004 election. It’s hard to unseat a wartime president, sure, but it could have been done. But the Dems weren’t going to win with Kerry and with the discourse they had at hand. Absent Obama’s charisma and his ‘historic’ campaign, could a standard Dem discourse have won in 08? Could Edwards have defeated McCain or Romney? It’s not certain.

    The topic is large, but does this address the question in the way you meant?

    Katz — of course I wasn’t suggesting any such thing. I’m talking about the political climate and culture, the ability to generate effective checks and balances. Bush was not effectively checked. Of course he is ultimately responsible for his actions. But our government is an aggregate not an autocracy.

    Nickws — if you seriously want to discuss these matters, I can’t do it until you quit your sneering. But if you come back in a civil tone, we can get into the thing.

    p.s. — “shitheel” was merely meant for shock value, so medicine could be tasted, as it were. It was probably going overboard though, since more than one reader took it literally. That whole passage was meant as a piece of ventriloquism, but it seems to have played wrong. Sorry folks.

  88. Electric Guitar

    It’s a bit rich in general to go around imputing culpability to those who were vocal critics japerz. You’d need a pretty special case, and here I don’t think you have one.

    Perhaps the actual reasons Bush wasn’t held in check had more to do with firstly his and his admin’s complete lack of interest in entertaining any form of criticism (self- included), secondly their eager disfiguring of those institutions whose express purpose is to provide such ‘checks’ on the executive, and thirdly the extremely uncritical nature of the US mainstream media (comedians aside) during his tenure.

  89. Nickws

    j_p_z, I’m not at all sorry for my `sneering’ tone.

    Though I’m impressed by my ability to influence your tone by pointing out that your language describing Barack Obama is every bit as extreme as the anti-Bush strawmen’s behaviour you have constantly referred to.

    You even appear to be changing your whole orientation RE American civil society because of what I & others have taken issue with in your obtuse little sermons on the mount. Not to mention your new found criticism of Bush the wartime leader–you’re evolving. At least that’s how it appears.

    Personally I’ve only ever expended bile over pundits in these public forums.

    If I ever wrote of Howard as ‘Rodent’ or Bush as ‘Chimpy’ I can’t remember. Because I take care to show public figures (other than the inflammatory media players like the Michael Connors of this world) a bare minimum of non-childishness (respect isn’t the right word.)

    You could do worse than adopt that style. It saves embarrassment.

  90. The Book I Read

    FDB — it’s a point of view. Guess we’ll have to agree to (partly) disagree on this one. I’d say your criticism has some merits, but there aren’t blanket absolutes in the matter — for one thing, we both saw different phenomena and had different experiences of the time. For another thing, Bush and Cheney could only get away with what you say if they could manage to. That wasn’t foreordained, I don’t think. I wouldn’t say my view is an absolute, but I think it’s a perspective that helps to round out the picture.

    And if you think I meant merely all “vocal critics,” this is not correct. Vocal is not the same as daft or offside.

  91. j_p_z

    Nickws: “your language is every bit as extreme as…”

    Like a man said, ‘Feel around in the dark until you get the idea.’

    Enjoy your whole program of being right about everything all the time. I suppose it must be a wonderful feeling.


  92. Katz

    Bush was not effectively checked.

    We can agree on this. I’d be interested to read you opinion on how the Dems (or if you believe them to have been inherently incapable of effective opposition, an effective opposition) might have checked Bush in the wake of 9/11.

  93. Nickws

    Enjoy your whole program of being right about everything all the time. I suppose it must be a wonderful feeling

    No, I was wrong about it being either Dubai Ports or McAmnesty.

    It’s just it was time to drop off the bandwagon when his ratings fell below 50%, right?

    After all, if you’re consumed with hubris you’re not likely to continue supporting a loser, no?