Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Standards of Civility for Democrats

So, Andrew Sullivan has a round-up of the instantaneous reactions, mostly complaints, from right-wing bloggers about the Inaugural Address. There are some moments of gracious or grudging acknowledgment, but there's also carping on matters so small that in fact they do not exist. One complaint is that Obama, who campaigned against Bush's policies, should have given more praise to Bush and his policies. Why this might be so is beyond me. Perhaps I have forgotten the fulsome praise that FDR lavished upon Hoover, or Jefferson upon Adams.

At least a couple of bloggers, to wit Jennifer Rubin and Jay Nordlinger, take issue with Obama's thank-you to to Bush, which they view as insultingly brief. Rubin calls it "unduly perfunctory." Nordlinger calls it "the barest minimum: 'I thank him for his service,' or something." The idea seems to be that Obama rudely and pointedly truncated a gesture of thanks which one would normally expect to be fuller.

For reference, what President Obama said during his Inaugural Address was this:

"I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition."

Apparently, this is much shorter and less classy than what George W. Bush said in his inaugural address in 2001:

"As I begin, I thank President Clinton for his service to our nation."

That's it.

So, you see how classless Obama is: to give Bush (who leaves behind an economic meltdown, a massive deficit, and two unresolved wars) only slightly more praise than Bush gave his own predecessor (who left behind peace and a budget surplus). But of course, from such pundits' perspective, Clinton was owed no praise, because Clinton "had no class" and Bush did. Meanwhile, Bush is entitled to more deference from the mere parvenu who succeeds him. It's not about what they say at all.

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