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.