Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Retroactive Fairness?

There's been a little debate going on in the comments section of many right-of-center political blogs ever since the election about what is the proper way for the "loyal opposition" to treat President Obama. On the one hand, some say (and this is the group that garners my personal sympathies) that we don't want to continue the same level of vitriol that was directed at President Bush for 8 years (and, in fairness, that was also common during the Clinton administration). After 2 full terms of feeling treated unfairly, some of us on the right want to show that we can be more grown-up than that. Yet there are others who take the opposite tack. Some say, "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." Others just want to use the modified Golden Rule--do unto others the same thing they did unto you. And still others say that refusing to play dirty is the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gunfight, a kind of unilateral disarmament. The other side, they say, has reaped the benefits of "Bush Derangement Syndrome" for almost a decade, and those are the new rules of the game.

Anyone who reads this blog should be able to see that I've been trying to take the high road for some time. And I don't want to be one of those who lowers the level of discourse. But I am very frustrated right now, especially with what I perceive to be a serious double-standard in the news media. Maybe it's just me, but I have this nagging feeling that if George W. Bush had nominated even ONE tax-cheat to his cabinet, he'd be getting it with both barrels (especially if that one was either going to be the boss of the IRS or his tax problems involved a limo). Yet Obama has TWO, and if you don't read National Review or watch Fox News, the silence is deafening. And how in the bloody heck did Geithner get more votes for confirmation than John Roberts???? Combine Geithner and Daschle with people like Chris Dodd and Charles Rangel and you begin to think that Leona Helmsley was in the wrong business. Likewise, if Bush had signed an executive order that "closed" Gitmo, but in reality just kicked the can down the road for a year or more, I don't think there would have been nearly the love-fest we got when Obama did the same. And now that the Obama administration has decided to continue the practice of "rendition" of terrorists (that is, sending the nastiest ones to foreign countries that don't have inconveniences like the Bill of Rights or prohibitions on torture), I'm still waiting in vain for someone (anyone?) on the left to call him a torturer like they did Bush. Indeed, I'd be willing to argue that rendition is a good bit more serious than waterboarding. But all of a sudden there is a great amount of chin-stroking in the media (and even human rights groups) about how difficult and complicated it is to keep the country safe.

But I'm also conflicted. I know you can't unring a bell. The media can't go back now and undo all their old reporting on Bush and company. And I really DON'T want to try to even it up by treating the new guy just as unfairly. Since I thought a lot of the hand-wringing about Bush's culpability for Katrina was overwrought, I am not now secretly hoping that Obama gets raked over similar coals for ignoring the ice storm in Kentucky. But I just wish someone would come out and say that these "new" rules are going to be the same for everybody from here on out, and not just be a blatant and eternal double-standard. I'd be fine with saying that we can call it even--"we" impeached Clinton (although he certainly helped), "they" savaged Bush (and again, he didn't do anything to make it too difficult). But the refs can start calling a fair game anytime now.


Greg and Kim said...

this is Greg, not Kim,

I feel like I have to say, that I never log on to the National Review or any other conservative news source. I do listen to Talk Radio every now and them, and I hear them screaming about how nobody is talking about this.... but every time I open the news feeder from cnn, yahoo (mostly ap stories), and even newseek, there is something about it, and very rarely do I feel they are sweeping it under the rug. I don't watch TV, so maybe its CNN and the networks who are saying, "Its okay, nobody really needs to pay taxes anyway." Sadly, I fear that we are destined for more polarizing politics over the next several years. I want to know where Obama's vetters were? Also, I hope that anybody who's accused of tax fraud the next four years will be able to get away with the excuse, "Don't blame me, blame Turbo Tax!"

on a side note, the captcha phrase i am supposed to type in to leave this comment is "ragingl" i really hope blogger is not accusing me of being a raging liberal.

Coach Sal said...

Well, perhaps I misspoke when I said there was "silence." Better to say, we were told over and over about Geithner how he was the only guy who could save the economy, so we had to look the other way on his taxes. As of an hour ago, Daschle and another Obama appointee have both been dropped over their tax issues, by the way. The point, though, was not that I want Obama or his administration to get nailed as some sort of make-up-call for the years of Bush-bashing, but that I'd like the media and the left (which overlap quite a bit) to just start playing it straight. You mention Newsweek, for example--how many fawning cover shots of Obama did they run in the campaign, even before he was the nominee? Yet contrast that with the Sarah Palin cover that zoomed in on every pore, nose-hair, and imperfection? Or contrast the NYT hit piece on Cindy McCain (or the "story" that all-but alleged an affair between McCain and a lobbyist) with the same paper's dismissal of any concerns over Rev Wright or Bill Ayers. Like I said, what's done is done. But I'd like fair, honest reporting about both sides from this point forward.

bekster said...

The truth is, it's NEVER going to be fair. In fact, the more "right" (as in correct, not the opposite of left) and good we are, the more flack we can expect to get from those opposed to us. The way we treat someone should never be a reflection on the way we expect to be treated in return (per the "Sermon on the Mount"). If Obama does something good, let's praise him. If he does something bad, let's be honest and open about it, but there's no need to go looking for dirt in his laundry. No, it is not fair that Obama tends to be hailed as the savior of the nation while Bush may as well be the anti-Christ, but what can you do? The way I see it, maybe some good can come out of Obama's popularity. People who really like him are excited and optimistic, and I think optimism is just what we need right now as we face problems in our economy. One or both of us has already said that a big part of the problem is how people have "freaked out" about the economy. The wheels have stopped turning because people are afraid. Granted, there are legitimate math issues, but I'd say this is largely an emotional problem. Obama definitely has the ability to stir up people's emotions. Of course he's not going to do everything right. We already knew his stance on abortion and that kind of thing. However, while he has some positive momentum going for him (that might be able to do some good), I won't be the one to make an issue of his faults. Let's give him some time to get settled in his new position and just see how things shake out. If he isn't able to make good on his promises, then we can give him the criticism (though not undue lashings) he deserves. But if, despite his faults, he is able to bring about overall positive change, then there would be no point in complaining too much. As I have said before, we prayed about the election, and this is who God gave us. Obama deserves to be respected (even though Bush was wrongly deprived of respect--and the next Republican will be too) because God has appointed him as our leader. Who are we to question that judgement?

(BTW, Larry, I'm not saying you have taken the position I oppose; I'm just trying to make my own position clear.)

Coach Sal said...

I agree, Becky, to a point. I'd rather roll my eyes occasionally at the Obama media love-fest if that means we can put the last 16 years of partisan hate in the rear-view mirror. And I have written elsewhere that Obama has a unique opportunity to be "Nixon to China" and make some necessary changes for the country.

However, I beg to differ a bit about how God has "appointed" him our leader. We are told (Romans 13:1) to have respect for civil authorities, etc. But I don't think that just because Obama won election that he suddenly falls into the same category as a Saul or a David. Scripture is full of leaders who were allowed to serve by God whose purpose was actually to bring judgement on the ungodly--I'm thinking the Chaldeans in Habbakuk, the "bad" kings of Israel and Judah (like Ahab), even Pharoah. What God allows does not necessarily mean it's what he endorses (and that even includes ostensibly "good guys" like Saul). Not that Obama is necessarily one of the bad ones, either. But, to quote a line from C.S. Lewis, there are 2 kinds of people in the world: those who to say to God, "your will be done," and those to whom God says, "fine. YOUR will be done." I think it's quite possible (whether this particular presidency is an example or not) that God would say to America (as he seems to have done to Rome in the past), "if that's what you choose, your funeral."

bekster said...

I don't have any problem with the idea that God could have given us Obama to punish us. I'm not saying that he did, necessarily, but I wouldn't rule it out. I'm also not saying that just because God appointed (yes, appointed) him as our leader, everything he touches turns to gold. It doesn't mean that abortion (or whatever else) is now suddenly okay. What it does mean is that we should give him respect.

Speaking of the "Sauls" and "Davids," I agree that some people are maybe more especially "appointed" (or, maybe I should say "anointed") than others, but even Saul had an evil spirit cast upon him--from the LORD. There was purpose in that spirit, however, that eventually brought about good. David was put in a position to go against Saul, which he wouldn't have done otherwise because of his respect for God's anointed. Even times when he could have killed Saul outright, David spared him because of that respect--even with Saul being possessed of an evil spirit. Of course, David eventually became king and was called a man after God's own heart, even though he himself had done "bad" things like spilling too much blood and committing adultery. Even in imperfect people, God's perfect purpose was still served.

The point I am trying to make is that God knows what He is doing. He did put Obama in charge. (Otherwise, the man wouldn't be in charge). We are not in a position to know all of the reasons why He did that, but He did. Because of that, we need to respect him (Obama). Sure, if Obama does something "bad," we should speak up about it, but we shouldn't go smearing his face in the mud like the liberals did with Bush. We should have the same respect for Obama that David had for Saul. To do otherwise, I believe, would be completely un-Christian. (I find myself repenting of things I've said about Clinton.)

Now, if Obama turns out to be a complete maniac and totally screws up our country, then I think we should look a little harder at the "punishment" idea. We should cry out to God and repent of our many sins. But, God would still be in control in that situation. What guarantee do we have that our [physical] nation will prosper anyway? If there is some reason for us to "suffer" that would ultimately bring glory to God, then that's how it must be. (In all honesty, though, I doubt that's what's going on here. I still think that Obama's emotional momentum can do some good before things have to get too bad.)

Of course, we never did finish our "predestination" discussion from before, so you probably still don't agree with me completely.

Pete said...

"Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways."
Judges 2: 18-19

Sounds a lot like today. I believe it was Mark Twain that once said: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

though we may forget, thankfully, our hope doesn't come from some guy in washington...