Abroad, some really creepy people are now lining up to test Obama’s world view of ‘Bush did it/but I am the world’: the North Koreans are readying their missiles; the Iranians are calling us passive, bragging on nukes and satellites; Russia is declaring missile defense is over and the vulnerable Euros in real need of iffy Russian gas; Pakistanis say no more drone attacks (and then our friends the Indians say “shut up” about Kashmir and the Euros order no more ‘buy American” and no to more troops in Afghanistan). Oddly, Iraq stays quiet, our homeland security measures are keeping us safe, and the initial bank guarantees stopped a greater meltdown–so not everything was ruined on January 20.
Here are some suggestions:
I. Drop all the talk about the best, the most, the greatest ethical, moral, legal etc. Just keep quiet and call in Senate leaders of both parties and show them the names of nominees and ask for pre-hearing advice. I think Geithner cannot now stay: not when Obama confesses that Daschle had to go to avoid two tax laws for elites and mass. But Geithner’s sin was far worse, since he was the nominal head of the IRS itself. He should step down, and Obama should likewise distance himself from Rangel. Advice: Keep quiet and carry a big ethical stick.
II. Never trash your predecessor or the US abroad. Defend it—always; America is better than the alternative; that it is not perfect does not mean that it is not great. Bush’s decision to surge was courageous, a Saudi royal calling for Israel to go back to the 1948 borders is just more of the same. Trust Billary, Gates, and Jones on foreign policy; ignore Biden. Send him to funerals (and that is risky).
III. Hush about the Bush homeland security measures. Just accept them as necessary evils. Express regret for the no-win choices, but insist that another 4 years of safety from 9/11 attacks is the primary consideration (and we will assume that ‘Bush shredded the Constitution’ was mere empty-headed Hollywood-imported campaign rhetoric.)
IV. Halve the stimulus. Insist on tax cuts rather than hand-outs. Include mandatory spending caps to come based on GDP performance; call for national unity to balance the budget when the storms pass. Do not listen to one word from Pelosi/Reid. The former is an extremist, the latter unhinged. Call in Lieberman for insider advice. Find some Senate Democratic moderates. We will endure this 1981-2-like Recession that is not the Great Depression, but increasingly an excuse for European socialism that has now imploded from Greece to the UK.
V. Replace Gibbs. Perhaps bump him upstairs to some sort of communications czar. But don’t unleash him on the public or press. Bring some old Democratic pro out from the past, either a liberal version of a TV vet like Tony Snow or some Clinton-era flak.
VI. Give Biden a key assignment: something like an Al Gore reforming government thing—anything other than commentary on foreign policy or ad hoc philosophizing. In thirty days Dick Cheney will be Rushmorean in comparison.
Let us hope that the world doesn’t try to test us this month. And if the outlaws do, let the sober and judicious people (and there are many) in Obama’s foreign policy team be allowed to react. In week three, we are light years from ‘hope and change’; now it is let us “hope he can change”.
Basic message: stop, halt, quit NOW the “I am the messiah” rhetoric before the fair-weather media bails.
So stop “Bush did it” refrains. And stop the trash Rush/Hannety/talk radio/Fox. Arguing with talk radio is not what Presidents do (did Bush diss Keith Olbermann?). Speak softly and kindly (and HUMBLY) in preparing for mega challenges against American interests. Do all that and the American people will rally to our President. They want their President to succeed and can forgive a lot, but again not hypocrisy cum self-righteousness.
Ask President Carter.