Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09
A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09
Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
Upsets Even Liberals - 03-26-09
‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real - 01-15-09
This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty - 12-18-08
Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So - 12-11-08
Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit? - 7-24-08
Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage - 7-02-08
Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls" - 10-26-07
"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.
January 29, 2009
Bush-bashing has become a sort of feeding frenzy among a large segment of national news media reporters and commentators, figuratively gorging themselves on the insults they are leveling at the 43rd president after he has left office.
Before quoting some of those insults, let me point out again the outrageous unfairness in the charge that Bush is responsible for the present economic crisis and for anything else that’s gone wrong in America in the past eight years.
Critics choose to ignore the blame that properly rests on Congress, including especially Democratic leaders like Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Senator Chris Dodd of Rhode Island, and other Democrats, including Bill Clinton when he was president. These Democrats sowed the seeds of the economic collapse by trying to make homeownership a sort of federal welfare program.
One—and only one, so far as I’m aware—fair-minded Democrat publicly criticized his party’s performance in regard to the bargain mortgage scandal. Representative Artur Davis of Alabama said: “Like a lot of my Democratic colleagues I was too slow to appreciate the recklessness of Fannie and Freddie (government-created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were pressing lenders to issue high-risk mortgages which Fannie and Freddie would purchase).
“Frankly, I wish my Democratic colleagues would admit, when it comes to Fannie and Freddie, we were wrong.”
Bush gets no credit at all from media commentators for his effort to win Congressional approval of some supervisory oversight designed to curb the irresponsible mortgage policies financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The lack of Congressional action on Bush’s proposal to rein in Fannie and Freddie brings me to another example of journalistic malpractice.
Some in the media seem to delight in reporting how low the Bush approval ratings fell in public opinion polls in the later years of his administration. Rarely if ever mentioned is the fact that the public’s opinion of Congressional performance consistently ranked lower than approval of Bush’s performance.
Consider: In 2008, Bush’s performance as measured in various public opinion polls ranged from 22 to 34% approval (he left office with a 22% poll-approval rating). During the same period, respondents to a variety of polls gave Congress approval ratings ranging from 12 to 24%, most of the time below 20% and nearly all below the Bush approval ratings.
I said earlier that I would offer some examples of recent rhetorical assaults on Bush, some of them so viciously worded as to suggest emotional if not mental imbalance.
Paul Krugman, one of the nastiest in The New York Times stable of liberal columnists, has written: “…shouldn’t there be some penalty for the Bush administration’s politicization of every aspect of government?” He went on to suggest the Obama administration should file charges against those responsible for “the abuses of the past eight years.”
Another Times columnist, Nicholas D. Kristof, spoke of “Mr. Bush’s years of governing from an ideological pup tent,” in contrast to Obama’s inaugural address language addressing “inclusiveness,” in his effort to “tug people into his big tent.”
Columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. of The Miami Herald said the American people were tired of the “lies, alibis, incompetence and tolerance of incompetence that has characterized the last eight years.”
Interestingly, the acid-tongue Krugman of The New York Times has now written a column which hints that when Obama moves towards the middle ground, where most Americans are most philosophically and politically comfortable, he had better be prepared for brickbats from the left where Krugman and like-minded liberals predominate.
Krugman’s critique of Obama’s inaugural address said the new president’s words were disappointing “for those still hoping that Obama will lead the way to universal health care.” Although somewhat muted in language, as one would expect of a liberal columnist criticizing a liberal president, Krugman’s column indicated disappointment on a number of issues and predicted dire results if Obama does not promote “drastic action soon.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Cynthia Tucker may have stretched the farthest in Bush-bashing.
Tucker told the story of the death of an 11-year-old girl, then said that Bush’s stance on stem-cell research impeded scientific efforts “that may have made inroads towards a cure for the illness that killed young Kara.”
Incredibly, columnist Tucker’s linking Bush to the illness that killed young Kara came three paragraphs after she had reported that Kara’s parents were going to be prosecuted for allegedly allowing their daughter “to die from a treatable illness—juvenile diabetes—because their religion forbids modern medicine.”
* * *
Further on the subject of journalistic performance:
That story about the need—or no need?—for a practice court for the University of Nebraska Cornhusker basketball team left the major question unanswered:
Why do the Huskers need a practice court?
Coach Doc Sadler gave no indication of dissatisfaction with the present arrangement of practicing on the same Devaney Center floor as the Huskers play their home games. Sadler said:
“I have other things to worry about beside the financing of a new arena. Since day one, I’ve said that’s out of my hands. I support and understand whatever decision they make.”
A sports page commentator wrote: “Most hoop coaches like to practice where they play games.” That’s what Nebraska is now doing. But his column carried the headline: “For Doc, practice facility is key.”
UNL Athletic Director Tom Osborne said he is “totally committed” to the construction of a practice facility as soon as is prudent. He also mentioned the need for $10 to $20 million worth of improvements at the Devaney Center, whether a practice facility is built or not.
Shouldn’t Devaney Center improvement have high priority over a practice facility for which no need has been clearly established?
The issue came into focus when, because of economic conditions, the idea of a new practice facility built near a new downtown Lincoln arena was put on hold. (Why in the world would a basketball practice facility be considered an attractive addition to a downtown area that Lincoln is seeking to revitalize? Would there be a campaign to get fans to come downtown to watch the Cornhuskers practice?)
Incidentally, a listing of the opening year and the capacity of all the basketball arenas in the Big 12 showed Nebraska’s Devaney Center as the sixth-largest in crowd capacity and fourth oldest, although in terms of age, four of the arenas bunched closely together, having opened in 1975 to 1979. The Devaney Center opened in 1976.
Interestingly, the Lloyd Noble Center, home of the nationally-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, one of the best teams in the nation this season, was opened the year before the Devaney Center and has a listed capacity of 12,000 spectators, about 1,600 less than the Devaney Center.
Oldest arena in the Big 12? You might have guessed it. The Allen Field House, with a current capacity of 16,300, opened in 1955 and is the home of the University of Kansas Jayhawks, a traditional national basketball powerhouse.
It might be worth noting that, practicing in the Devaney Center where they play their games, the Nebraska Cornhuskers under Coach Sadler are being given a good deal of credit for their performance this year without the critical presence of a big center. The struggling Creighton Bluejays have their own practice facility.
* * *
Still on the subject of journalistic performance:
A pre-inauguration news dispatch from Washington said that at a party thrown by the Nebraska Democratic Party, party chairman Vic Covalt said the Nebraska Democratic caucuses helped sweep Obama past Hillary Rodham Clinton and on to the Democratic Presidential nomination.
Covalt was further quoted as saying: “That wasn’t enough—we started shipping people across into the Second District like it was a foreign state. The whole place worked, and we got Barack Obama an electoral vote.”
Some reporter should have asked the Nebraska Democratic chairman exactly what he meant when he spoke of “shipping people across into the Second District.”
Hardly something to brag about, I would say.
* * *
Call it poor taste or an untypical case of bad judgment, whatever. Michelle and Barack Obama simply should not have retained the services of a high-profile Los Angeles-based designer to redo the family quarters in the White House.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Michael Smith, described as a decorator “to stars, models and fund-managers,” accepted a $100,000-maximum-fee. But with a good many Americans struggling to retain ownership of modest homes or to protect their retirement funds, it was an egregious mistake for the Obamas to choose an interior designer whose “signature scents” are marketed at prices like $55 for a seven-ounce candle and $110 for an air freshener.
The Obamas have been allocated $1.6 million for what the Journal described as a “restoration budget”—which, one is left to speculate, includes redesigning, redecorating and refurnishing. Normally something a new First Family is entitled to, but then again, perhaps not in these days when so many Americans who voted for Obama are struggling to pay their bills or live on unemployment benefit checks.
Prediction: This won’t be the last time that Michelle Obama’s views—more likely on political issues than interior decorating—will come to public attention.
# # #