Reaction to Obama’s Speech Reflects the Limits of Government Power

The President and the Left wing of his party believe that government is the answer to every problem.  Obama now is being savaged from the Left over an environmental disaster that government is powerless to stop.  I didn’t know what the issue would be, but I’m on record from before the inauguration predicting eventual disillusionment.

On January 15, 2009, I wrote the following:

There’s already plenty of opposition to Obama in the right-wing fever swamps of the Internets, of course….  But eventually, even mainstream media outlets will turn their guns on the man who, in the eternal formulation of insider Washington, will become known as “this President.” No matter how much the media was in the tank for Obama during the campaign, no matter how enthusiastic they were in celebrating the coming of BAM-A-LOT, eventually Obama and his Administration will make missteps that even the most liberal papers cannot ignore.

Ironically, Obama has lost the Left over an issue where I think he’s been getting a bad rap.  But make no mistake — he’s lost the Left, based on reactions to yesterday’s Oval Office speech.  Daniel Foster has a good roundup in The Corner, including:

Olberman: “It was a great speech if you were on another planet for the last 57 days.”

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones: “This gives pablum a bad name.”

Jonathan Chait said the part of Obama’s speech concerning Obama’s energy and climate bill “revealed just how much Obama is operating from a position of weakness.”

In a savage report taped before the President’s speech, Jon Stewart relentlessly matches the pious promises of Candidate Obama with the news reports about the breaking of those promises by President Obama.  The clip is well worth watching, but the screen grab below telegraphs the final punch line.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Respect My Authoritah
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Back to my pre-Inaugural post for a moment:

The honeymoon isn’t over yet, and it certainly won’t end before the Inaugural. But starting next Tuesday (ok maybe Wednesday), when President Obama doesn’t bring the troops home, doesn’t close Guantanamo, doesn’t end the recession, doesn’t deliver national health insurance, doesn’t roll back global warming and make the oceans recede — or at least doesn’t do any of these things as fast as the Left would like — then things like the peccadillos of Tim Geithner will start to get more coverage.

I guess he did “deliver national health insurance,” sort of, but it’s appallingly bad legislation that will only grow more unpopular as the costs become more clear.  On the other issues he’s either run up against the limits of government power or discovered the pragmatic imperatives of leadership.

The biggest mistake of the Oval Office speech was the decision to deliver it at all.  I don’t understand what the Administration thought the speech could possibly accomplish.

(Photo from an Alabama beach at top by Dave Martin/AP, published by the Guardian of London)

How Much Trouble are the Democrats In?

Classmate, pal and fellow right-leaning ex-journalist Van Wallach at Kesher Talk thinks journalists are overplaying the Democratic debacle story line in Massachusetts:

Don’t buy into the hype about terrible trouble for the Democrats. Some trouble, maybe. The mainstream media (MSM) is working overtime to rip into Obama like a pack of famished guppies. They want to see him dunked in the political pool and come out gasping and choking — a little. Why? Because this creates a dramatic narrative, which journalists crave like a crack high. A boring, incrementally mediocre administration won’t satisfy them. After the drama of his rise to power, Obama has to keep the drama and surprises coming. Scott Brown and the Fabulous 41 Block of the GOP serves both the MSM and the Obama camp.

Van also thinks the MSM is (are?) setting up a Comeback Kid narrative, which may well be the case.  But I have a slightly different take.  (Yes, in time-honored bloggish fashion, I’ve quoted Van as an excuse for quoting myself.)

Loyal A.T.I.N. readers (hi Sweetie!) will flash back to my Instalanche post the week before the Inauguration, when I started a “Honeymoon-Over Watch”:

[J]ournalists no longer have to worry that Obama might lose the election. Now the natural competitiveness of the news media will begin to overwhelm partisanship, at least until the 2012 race heats up. The honeymoon isn’t over yet, and it certainly won’t end before the Inaugural. But starting next Tuesday (ok maybe Wednesday), when President Obama doesn’t bring the troops home, doesn’t close Guantanamo, doesn’t end the recession, doesn’t deliver national health insurance, doesn’t roll back global warming and make the oceans recede — or at least doesn’t do any of these things as fast as the Left would like — then things like the peccadillos of Tim Geithner will start to get more coverage.

(Emphasis added, to highlight the fact that one year in, Obama is five for five on the doesn’ts.)

Van and I are describing two sides of the same coin — his journalistic need for a dramatic narrative provides fuel for the journalistic competitiveness I described. Where I part company with Van is on the degree of trouble facing the Democrats.  If a Republican can handily win a statewide election in (“Don’t blame me, I’m from”) Massachusetts, something significant is afoot.

I hasten to add that it is possible, of course, to overstate the matter, as one Republican Party spinmeister did by saying “no Democrat is safe.”  Plenty of Democrats are safe.  But unless the Obama administration starts tacking right, some who think they are safe are likely to be voted out in November.  And I haven’t seen any sign in Obama of the kind of Clintonian centrist pragmatism that would enable him to become a Comeback Kid.

Brown Victory Should Spell an End to Obamacare

I guess we can’t call it the People’s Republic of Massachusetts any more.  At 52% to 47%, it wasn’t even particularly close.

Democrats in the House are stumbling over each other as they back away from the notion of approving the Senate-passed version of health care “reform” so that the Senate would not have to vote again.

Democratic pollster and operative Doug Schoen describes the result even more starkly than most Republicans (H/T: Contentions):

The defeat of Martha Coakley represents a complete repudiation of President Obama’s domestic agenda, going well beyond health care. Massachusetts voters made it clear tonight with the decisive victory they gave to Republican Scott Brown that they want and expect the administration to pursue a dramatically different approach.

Wow.  Unless the Obama administration starts veering sharply back toward the center, the mid-term election in November will be even more dramatic.

Honeymoon-Over Watch: He’s Lost MoDo

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is not happy with the President.  Her column yesterday was titled “As the Nation’s Pulse Races, Obama Can’t Seem to Find His“, and the first paragraph in the excerpt below is particularly damning:

MoDoIf we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?…

Citing the attempt of the Nigerian’s father to warn U.S. authorities six months ago, the president intoned: “It now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect’s name on a no-fly list.”

In his detached way, Spock was letting us know that our besieged starship was not speeding into a safer new future, and that we still have to be scared.

Heck of a job, Barry.

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I Still Prefer the Chicago Politician to the Obamessiah

obamamessiahWriting in the Washington Post, Dana Milbank discusses the downward trend in President Obama’s approval rating among liberals — a decline that seems likely to accelerate now that he has announced an escalation in what shall henceforward be known as Mr. Obama’s War.  The disillusionment…

… was bound to happen eventually. Obama had become to his youthful supporters a vessel for all of their liberal hopes. They saw him as a transformational figure who would end war, save the Earth from global warming, restore the economy — and still be home for dinner. They lashed out at anybody who dared to suggest that Obama was just another politician, subject to calculation, expediency and vanity like all the rest.

My first substantive post on this blog dealt with this very issue.  But in my case, I welcomed the emerging evidence that Obama is a politician, not a messiah.  I still do.

From that July 2008 post:

My biggest concern with Obama was the very thing that endeared him to many others — the idea that he was “not a politician,” or was “a new kind of politician.” I never believed that to be the case… but enough people believed it that I had to consider the possibility. The idea of a president who is not a politician is scary. It’s like the idea of a Supreme Court justice who’s not a lawyer. There’s no law against it, and it might even work out OK. But it makes no more sense to put a non-politician in the country’s top political job than it would to put a non-lawyer in the top legal job.

It ain’t always pretty and it ain’t always fair, but politics is the mechanism through which our country is governed.  How many times have you heard variants of “So-and-so is just doing that for political reasons,” with the word “political” spat out as a term of contempt.  But another way to say “doing something for political reasons” is “representing one’s constituents.”

As with any politician, Obama’s constituency is far from monolithic.  But he had a large cadre of supporters who bought into the Obamessiah myth, and it was inevitable that they eventually would feel betrayed.  As he positions himself for re-election, his twin goals will be to convince enough of the former true believers that he is still the best option available, while doing what needs to be done to stabilize Afghanistan and defeat the jihadists.

There’s a tension between those two goals, as we can see in the announcement of the new strategy for Mr. Obama’s War.  His ill-advised announcement of a date certain for beginning to reverse the coming surge is a face-saving fig leaf for the true believers.  Fortunately, he’ll have plenty of time between now and July 2011 to figure out how to explain, if necessary, that the withdrawal must be delayed.

But in the meantime, sounding a tentative trumpet is not the way to rally the troops and win a war.

Time May Have Expired for Obama’s “Crisis=Opportunity” Tactics

rasmussen_index_july_20_2009A few weeks after the November election, incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel famously said “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.  And what I mean by that is, an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

Things like ramming through a mammoth “stimulus” bill now now now now now — never mind that nobody except the bill’s authors had even read it.  It was an opportunity to throw huge sums of money at various Democratic priorities — even though much of the money will not be spent until 2011 or later, and thus will have no current “stimulating” effect.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Fred Barnes does a great job of tying a lot of pieces together.  In the process he helps make it clear why Obama has moved firmly into negative territory in the Rasmussen daily tracking poll. It would be worth your time to read the whole thing on the WSJ site, but you probably won’t, so here’s an excerpt:

It usually doesn’t happen this quickly in Washington. But President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are finding that the old maxim that what goes around, comes around applies to them, too. Less than six months into his term, Mr. Obama’s top initiatives — health-care reform and “cap and trade” energy legislation — are in serious jeopardy and he has himself and his congressional allies to blame.

Their high-pressure tactics in promoting and passing legislation, most notably the economic “stimulus” enacted in February, have backfired. Those tactics include unbridled partisanship, procedural short cuts, demands for swift passage of bills, and promises of quick results.

With large majorities in Congress and an obsequious press corps, Mr. Obama was smitten with the idea of emulating President Franklin Roosevelt’s First 100 Days of legislative success in 1933. Like FDR, Mr. Obama tried to push as many liberal bills through Congress in as brief a time as possible.

He made a rookie mistake early on. He let congressional Democrats draft the bills. They’re as partisan as any group that has ever controlled Congress, and as impatient. They have little interest in the compromises needed to attract Republican support. As a consequence, what they passed — especially the $787 billion stimulus — belongs to Democrats alone. They own the stimulus outright.

The candidate who marketed himself as being above politics has, as president, descended into the arena. I have a special fondness for this theme, as it was the subject of my very first substantive post on this blog, “I Prefer the Chicago Politician to the Obamessiah“:

From a character standpoint, my biggest concern with Obama was the very thing that endeared him to many others — the idea that he was “not a politician,” or was “a new kind of politician.” I never believed that to be the case… but enough people believed it that I had to consider the possibility. The idea of a president who is not a politician is scary. It’s like the idea of a Supreme Court justice who’s not a lawyer. There’s no law against it, and it might even work out OK. But it makes no more sense to put a non-politician in the country’s top political job than it would to put a non-lawyer in the top legal job.

But it turns out Obama is a politician. After winning the Democratic nomination by appealing to the young, the idealists, the activists and the pacifists, he’s swerved right so fast that many of his supporters have whiplash.

slow_d16As the country increasingly recognizes that Obama is so a politician, Democrats in GOP-leaning districts increasingly will look ahead to the 2010 election.  They’ll start to distance themselves from the President, and they’ll scour the internet in search of any vaguely negative comment they made about the size of the porkulus bill.  The administration’s ability to steamroll Congress will, thankfully, decline.

As Barnes concludes:

Mr. Obama’s health-care and energy initiatives, the core of his far-reaching agenda, were bound to face serious opposition in Congress in any case. Hardball tactics and false promises have only made the hill he has to climb steeper. Now he may lose on both. The president and his congressional allies should have known better.

R.I.P., President Obama’s Honeymoon

minus-2 - obama_index_june_22_2009It’s been a while since I’ve updated the Honeymoon-Over Watch.  According to David J. Rothkopf at Foreign Policy, this should be the last update needed:

Mark it on your calendars.  It was in June 2009 that Barack Obama’s honeymoon officially ended.  And to be more specific, it was this past week.  Through some mysterious alchemy, this was the week that Bush’s economy became Obama’s, Bush’s wars became Obama’s, and the ups and downs of a real workaday relationship with the press also introduced Obama to a more accurate sense of what life was like for Bush and for all his other modern predecessors.

Last week was when Obama’s Presidential Approval Index, as measured by Rasmussen Reports, slipped into negative territory, although it has since recovered to +1 as of today’s report.  Rasmussen focuses on “strongly approve” vs. “strongly disapprove.”  I’m not sure whether this is more significant than measuring total approval vs. total disapproval, but it works against Obama, who in every poll (including Rasmussen’s) is firmly in positive territory on a total approval basis.  (Near the end of the Bush Presidency, GWB logged in at -30 on Rasmussen’s strong-opinion index.)

I’m no Obama-hater, nor do I want him to “fail,” but I’ve been rooting for the end of the honeymoon since before the inauguration.  The media’s near-deification of “The One” has been, at its worst, nothing less than appalling.  Open-minded skepticism (as opposed to cynicism) is generally the right starting point for a journalist, and more of them are getting there, as seen in additional “honeymoon-over” coverage from around the web.

In Newsweek – among the worst Obama up-suckers, as parodied by National Review — Howard Fineman focuses this week on Obama’s evolving relationship with the White House press corps:

Bottom line: things are getting a little testy and are about to get more so. … [T]he problem is that they are too cute by half. They assume they can manipulate, manage and guide the media flawlessly. They think they can ride the wave all the way every time. And why shouldn’t they? Obama’s presidential campaign, after all, was perhaps the shrewdest, most disciplined message machine ever assembled in modern electoral politics. And the coverage, overall, was often close to hagiographic. The presidency is a harder course, and the risk is that, by over-managing, the president and his aides will damage their own credibility with the press and, more important, with the public.

Europeans famously preferred Obama to McCain last fall, but the honeymoon may be over on the other side of the pond as well.  According to Der Spiegel, which James Lileks aptly called the world’s most German-sounding newspaper, America has gone from the “war president” to the “debt president”.  The newspaper predicts a day of reckoning soon:

It is often said that the Chinese and the Japanese will buy [U.S.] government bonds. But the truth of the matter is that trust in the gravitas and reliability of the United States has suffered to such a great degree that fewer and fewer foreigners are purchasing its government bonds. That’s why the Federal Reserve is now buying securities that it has printed itself. The Fed’s balance sheet has more than doubled since 2007, making the US central bank one of the world’s fastest-growing companies. The purpose of this company, though, is to create money out of thin air. …

The German response to the excesses of the Bush era was refusal and obstinacy. Gerhard Schröder refused to go to war in Iraq with America and he organized a European resistance front the reached from Moscow to Paris.

Germany still hasn’t provided its response to the Obama administration’s fiscal policy excesses. Perhaps its time for Merkel to take her cue from Schröder.

Professor Julian Zelizer of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School:

If there is any new dip in the economy, the public will blame President Obama rather than President Bush. This is exactly what happened with the recession in 1937, which FDR’s opponents called the “Roosevelt Recession,” using the downturn to diminish the number of New Deal liberals in the House and Senate in 1938.

Quoting Jonah Goldberg, who’s quoting others:

Thanks to a few pointed questions from the press corps at a White House news conference, the long Obama captivity of the media is at an end. The Hotline, an inside-the-Beltway tip sheet, proclaimed June 23 “The Day the Love Ended.”

The New York Daily News’s Michael Goodwin celebrates the press corps’s ability to channel the mood of the country: “By peppering the President with forceful questions . . . and by challenging some of his slippery answers, reporters captured the changing tone in the country. Like the end of a real honeymoon, blind infatuation is giving way to a more accurate view of reality.”

“The press corps gets it,” Goodwin writes. “For Obama, the hard part begins now.”

I’ll end with two more passages from the Rothkopf essay I started with, which is titled “The definitive, final, once and for all, Obama’s honeymoon-is-over story.” He helpfully includes a mini-roundup of other publications and websites that have declared this week that the honeymoon is over:

Of course, people have been writing about the end of Obama’s honeymoon since the day he arrived in office. [Pikers! My Honeymoon-Over Watch started January 15! - KP.] But let me offer 10 solid pieces of evidence that it was over by this week.  And I say this despite the unnerving fact that the Daily Kos seems to agree with my assessment…and shored up by the fact that NBC’s Chuck Todd, CNN’s Jack Cafferty, CQ, the Huffington Post, the New York Daily News, and a host of other media outlets all seem to agree by having grappled with the issue…or, depending on how you look at it, succumbed to the conventional wisdom…in the past week or 10 days.  Just goes to show: even the conventional wisdom is right every once in a while. …

[details snipped]

The honeymoon is done. Time for a real life marriage. For better or for worse.

And for richer or poorer.  Fortunately, America doesn’t marry its leaders “until death do us part.” And no, dammit, I’m not wishing anybody dead.  I’m celebrating the fact that in three-plus years, our system will give us an opportunity for a course correction under new leadership, if enough Americans come to believe one is needed. In the meantime, Mr. Obama is my president, and on some level at least I wish him well.

Freeman Withdraws, And He Finally Makes Page 8

On page A8 of the New York edition, today’s New York Times finally publishes its very first article about Charles Freeman, after nearly two weeks of blogospheric controversy that was severe enough to scuttle the nomination, but not severe enough to attract the attention of the mainstream media. The Times reports:

WASHINGTON — Charles W. Freeman Jr., the Obama administration’s choice for a major intelligence post, withdrew his name on Tuesday and blamed pro-Israel lobbying groups, saying they had distorted his record and campaigned against him.

The Washington Post acquitted itself only slightly better, running its first story yesterday, before a Congressional hearing on intelligence matters, reporting that all seven Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Commitee opposed the nomination because they were “concerned about his views on Israel and his past relationships with Saudi and Chinese interests.” Today’s report of the withdrawal ran on Page A4.

Still no coverage whatsoever on CNN.com, and MSNBC.com relegates it to a brief item on its political blog. After Richardson, Gregg, Daschle, Killifer, as well as the grilling Geithner survived, wouldn’t you think that the forced withdrawal of yet another nominee for what the Times concedes is a “major” position would rate a bit more coverage? Maybe Obama’s honeymoon isn’t over yet.

Obama Honeymoon-Over Watch: Jon Stewart and Chas Freeman

I’ve been neglecting the “Honeymoon-Over Watch” category of my blog because the notion of “watching” for something implies infrequent sightings, not a target-rich environment. The media certainly has not been hounding Obama as mercilessly as it did his predecessor, and I’m quite confident that will never happen. But the stimulus fight and economic news have been bruising, and now even the New York Times editorial page has seen fit to take a few jabs at the still-new administration. Last week, in discussing AIG Bailout 4.0, the Times snarked:

This time, the Obama Treasury Department — sounding a lot like the Bush Treasury Department — promised another $30 billion to the American International Group, the giant insurer….

What no one is saying — the Bush folks wouldn’t, and the Obama team seems to have taken the same vow of Wall Street omertà — is which firms would be most threatened by an A.I.G. collapse.

Also last week, comparisons of Obama and Bush spread to the late-night comedy shows (hat tip: Pajamas Media). Jon Stewart is a very funny man, and is backed by a team of writers and researchers who expertly suss out whiffs of hypocrisy by comparing current news footage with embarrassing older footage. Stewart is a stalwart leftie, but I admire his craft even though I frequently disagree with his views.

When Obama announced his plans for withdrawal from Iraq recently, I wrote that it was exactly the same as the plan President Bush announced last year. Last week, Stewart made the same point, only much funnier (4:16):

Perhaps the true test of the “overness” of the honeymoon will be found in the reporting of the Congressional testimony today of Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, who will be asked (by Republicans) about his appointment of Chas Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council. So far only conservative media outlets — including the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the Washington Times — seem to have made note of the impending testimony. From the National Review’s editorial:

Charles Freeman is a career diplomat, a Saudi apologist, and a savage critic of Israel. He also argues that Beijing did not strike down the Tiananmen Square protesters with sufficient swiftness. Barack Obama proposes to make him head of the National Intelligence Council. It’s an abominable appointment. …

He has distinguished himself as a rabid Israel-hater who regards the Jewish state’s defensive measures as the primary cause of jihadist terror. He is a shameless apologist for Saudi Arabia (where he once served as U.S. ambassador) despite its well-documented record of exporting terrorists and jihadist ideology. And he is a long-time sycophant of Beijing, where he served as Richard Nixon’s interpreter during the 1971 summit and later ran the U.S. diplomatic mission.

As Jake Tapper notes on his ABC News blog, Freeman appears to blame “the Israel Lobby” for the 9/11 attacks.

Freeman in 2006 wrote of the U.S.-Israel relationship, “We have paid heavily and often in treasure for our unflinching support and unstinting subsidies of Israel’s approach to managing its relations with the Arabs. Five years ago, we began to pay with the blood of our citizens here at home.”

At Commentary’s blog, Contentions, Jennifer Rubin notes describes the scanty coverage of the appointment, then asks:

[H]ow long can the rest of the mainstream media hold out without reporting on an embarrassing debacle for the Obama administration? This is the John Edwards story on steroids — a virtual conspiracy of silence with little if any journalistic justification. And here the issue is really important — the appointment of a key intelligence official who is alleged to harbor serious conflicts of interest and extreme views.

How long? We should know later today. Blair’s testimony is already under way.

Update: In today’s hearing, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., pursued the Chas Freeman issue in a lukewarm challenge to Dennis Blair. Here are transcript and video (begins at about the 87-minute mark). Blair said:

We’ve found over time that the best way to inform policy is to have strong views held within the intelligence community and then out of those we come out with the best ideas.

As Lieberman closed by saying, “to be continued.”

Updated Update: Late this afternoon, apparently shortly after I left my global headquarters in Maplewood to go into Manhattan for an event, Chas Freeman withdrew his nomination. The earliest timestamp I can find is on a Wall Street Journal blog at 5:29 p.m. Eastern. More than four hours later, there is no mention of the withdrawal on the homepages of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN or MSNBC. The Times and the Post are probably keeping their powder dry while they prepare articles for their print editions, but I have no idea what the excuse is for CNN and MSNBC. Yet another high-profile Obama appointee has to withdraw? That isn’t news?

Next-Day Update: Unbelievable.

Honeymoon-Over Watch: Daschle and the Post-Racial Presidency

Tom Daschle withdrew as nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services yesterday, reportedly to enable him to audition for a better-paying movie gig as Harry Potter’s dad.

The Washington Post reports (emphasis added):

Obama officials had sought a seamless transition, nominating most of his Cabinet at record pace and taking office ready to implement a raft of new policies. His reversal yesterday suggested that speed may have come at a cost, and that Obama, despite the overwhelming popularity he had upon taking office and the major challenges facing the nation, will not be spared from the same kind of scrutiny his predecessors have faced.

MoDo takes the gloves off:

It took Daschle’s resignation to shake the president out of his arrogant attitude that his charmed circle doesn’t have to abide by the lofty standards he lectured the rest of us about for two years.

Dana Milbank wrote, “If this is Obama’s honeymoon, one shudders to think what a lovers’ quarrel would look like. “

Going “meta” for a moment, the honeymoon may be over for the “Honeymoon-Over Watch.” A Google search for Obama honeymoon returns 2,880,000 results, indicating that the metaphor may not be quite as fresh and insightful as I imagined when I turned it into a category on my blog.

I think the end of the honeymoon is a good thing — and not because of any ill will toward Obama. I see it as a sign that Obama is making a transition from being the first African-American president to the much more essential and powerful role of being simply the American president.

For now, it may still be the case that only an Establishment liberal like Maureen Dowd can call Obama “arrogant” without prompting accusations that it’s a code word for “uppity.” We are just a few short months removed from the ludicrous notion that observations about Obama’s “inexperience” constitute some sort of racial code. But as Obama adapts to a role where he can no longer vote “present,” he will have additional opportunities to attract criticism from across the political spectrum. If people grow used to the idea that it’s possible to criticize a black person without being a racist, our society will have made an important step toward racial equality.

(Photo: UPI)