January 21, 2009

Change of Guard: Goodbye GW Bush hello President Obama

By my reckoning America is still today, yes even today my friends, the "exemplary society".

In an atmosphere of unprecedented optimism and emotion, Barack Obama has been inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States and the first African-American to hold the position. As my regular readers know well, I am primarily an advocate of America and its importance to fostering peace and maintaining international security, spreading democracy, and the force of its ideas and culture which I believe are useful constructs when considering its multifarious role in shaping the contemporary world for the betterment of the many. As Ronald Reagan said:

The United States is unique because we are an empire of ideals
In such contexts, I sincerely wish President Obama well, but have concerns about the apparent love affair between media and the new President, often wondering about the role of emotion in politics and its implications for critical inquiry and balanced coverage, something I know will be absent in the immediate future. Consider the words of Janet Albrechtsen in writing in the Australian this morning.

You know that something is amiss with rational judgment when economics Nobel laureate Amartya Sen describes events surrounding Barack Obama’s arrival as US President as “turning an exceptional human being into almost the kind of godhead that he has become … when opinion leaks into news coverage and straight analysis, as so often happens, something altogether more dangerous is happening. The media forfeits their place as the fourth estate when they forget their primary duty to report the facts so the average reader, as well the commentariat, can form their own judgments. Regrettably, much of the mainstream media in the Western world have abandoned this trusted role. They want to be players, not mere observers. Intellectual scepticism, which should sit at the heart of good political analysis, is too often a rarity in an increasingly liberal (in the American sense of that word) media.
Albrechtsen concludes

Sadly, it looks as if Obama may get a free pass on tough media scrutiny largely because so many journalists share his politics … In a tough world, however, we will need more from Obama and from his press gallery. What will matter is whether Obama does a good job, not whether he’s black, good looking and speaks well.

On George W. Bush

As I wrote here, in letting Bush go we would do well to consider that if one bases his or her vote on whether Bush was good or bad solely on what’s presented on the 24/7 news cycle, then we were always going to know any poll results in advance. The passage of time and with it, the shift in media focus away from Bush will be conducive to impartial analysis by commenters, reporters, reviewers and general folk without the usual ‘pink noise’ distraction put forward by knee jerk elites from both ends of the Atlantic. As such, history will be fairer to GWB. By my reckoning America is still today, yes even today my friends, the "exemplary society".

Recommended reading:

George W. Bush’s Legacy: Moral Vision

He never let Americans forget there is evil in this world and that their nation has a unique calling to fight it ... he leaves to history the reaffirmation of American good over evil in the world. The job is not done, and will never be done until the ideology of fanaticism in the hearts of men is extinguished. But in leaving office, this president can always be recalled for standing tall in the face of historic crises not unlike those faced by chief executives before him.

Bush’s legacy, there should be little doubt, will be great, despite what now is suggested by the final public approval ratings and the current euphoria of the Democratic transition. >> more
History fairer to Bush

In the avalanche of abuse and ridicule that we are witnessing in the media assessments of Bush's legacy, there are factors that need to be borne in mind if we are to come to a judgment that is not warped by the kind of partisan hysteria that has characterised this issue ...>> more


Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Anyone reading my blog for a period of time knows I am no unilateral cheerleader for former President Bush. However, he managed to keep America SAFE since 9/11 (I personally know of a number of "events" that were purposely avoided via military and civil work on these shores) and that in and of itself is an incredible achievement. Also that he managed to bring back the American economy as quickly is a testament to his facility as well. History will look more kindly upon Mr Bush than our media ever have.

I shall evaluate Mr Obama's work on a case-by-case basis but upon only performance or lack thereof. And that is fundamentally fair.


Donald Douglas said...

"History will look more kindly upon Mr Bush than our media ever have."

BZ makes a pretty fair evaluation, and I like Albrechtsen's argument.

Keep up the great work, Ottavio!

Anonymous said...

Great columns.....



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