Obama-worship remains the order of the day at the New York Times, and the Times is more than happy to rewrite history on behalf of the candidate it worked so hard to elect.
Consider this piece by David Sanger. Sanger’s thesis is that Obama’s selections, reported selections, and rumored selections for key posts in his administration indicate that he will govern from the center right of his party. That case certainly can be made, although I’ve argued that it can easily be over-stated.
But Sanger goes on to say:
The choices are as revealing of the new president as they are of his appointees — and suggest that, from its first days, an Obama White House will brim with big personalities and far more spirited debate than occurred among the largely like-minded advisers who populated President Bush’s first term.
Sanger is far off base here. Bush selected as his vice president a personality as big as all outdoors. He then “populated” State and Defense with Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld. They don’t come much bigger than that either.
Predictably, Powell proved not to be of the same mind as Cheney and Rumsfeld on the key defense, national security, and foreign policy issues that arose during Bush’s first term. Similarly, Bush’s first treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, was anything but a “yes” man when it came to Bush’s economic policy, although it’s doubtful that Bush and Cheney anticipated this.
The New York Times never missed on opportunity to report on dissension within the Bush administration during the president’s first term. But now it forgets about its own reporting for the purpose of inflating Obama and attacking Bush.
Bush populated the remaining posts with individuals, many of them estimable, who represented the full spectrum of Republicanism, ranging from the moderate-to-liberal Christie Todd Whitman to the fully conservative John Ashcroft. Moreover, as the Times knows well, Ashcroft proved his independence when, from his hospital bed, he famously told off the president’s chief of staff and his White House counsel during a dispute over surveillance policy.
Not content to distort recent history, Sanger next reaches back to JFK. He writes:
In some ways, the choices made so far [by Obama] are reminiscent of the way the last senator to be elected president, John F. Kennedy, chose a cabinet. As president-elect, Kennedy soon picked three top officials significantly more conservative than he was: Dean Rusk as secretary of state, Robert S. McNamara as secretary of defense and C. Douglas Dillon, a Republican, as secretary of the Treasury. They helped him navigate the Cuban missile crisis, but also got him bogged down in Vietnam.
But Rusk and McNamara weren’t significantly more conservative than Kennedy on foreign and defense policy. In fact, few were. During the 1960 campaign, Kennedy decried an alleged missile gap between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and consistently took hard line positions on matters relating to the Cold War. When Kennedy said in his inaugural address, “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty,” he was not quoting Rusk or McNamara.
It shouldn’t be difficult to recognize the boldness (or perhaps the foolhardiness) of Obama’s decision to select Hillary Clinton without misrepresenting President Bush’s record and without speciously comparing Obama to JFK. But that’s too much to ask of the New York Times.
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