Friday, July 16, 2010

A Class-Free America Begins with a Class-Free White House

Henry Payne/The Detroit News
Somebody got murdered on New Year's Eve
Somebody said dignity was the first to leave
--Bob Dylan, Dignity
You may have heard about how President Barack Obama used his invitation to speak at a ribbon-cutting at LG Chem in Holland to try to embarrass fellow invitee, Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra. (“Obama touts stimulus, taking shots at Michigan's Rep. Peter Hoekstra”).
Obama welcomed Hoekstra during his opening remarks at the car battery plant here.* At the same moment, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs sent a note to reporters pointing out Hoekstra as a “great quote opportunity!” in the audience. Hoekstra has been a vocal critic of the stimulus package -- which provided funding for projects like the battery plant.

“There are some folks who want to go back, who think we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession,” Obama said later in his comments honoring an advanced car battery factory being built by the company LG Chem. “Some made the political calculation that it's better to obstruct than lend a hand. They said no to the tax cuts, they said no to small-business loans, they said no to clean-energy projects. It doesn't stop them from coming to ribbon-cuttings -- but that's okay.”

Hoekstra, interviewed afterward, called Obama's remarks “unpresidential.”
I’d say “unpresidential” captures it nicely.

Cluelessness as to the dignity of the office seems to be a hallmark of recent Democratic chief executives. Carter had to prepare the schedule for the White House tennis courts himself, gave presidential addresses wearing a cardigan, and, DU has it on good authority, conducted all his phone conversations with foreign heads of state while seated in a booster chair.

Clinton sold access to the White House, used the Oval Office for a motel room, and had Arafat in for visits so often Yasser kept his own “World’s Greatest Terrorist” coffee mug in the presidential dishrack. The late Barbara Olson wrote her book, The Final Days, about the abuses in the closing hours of the Clinton presidency, and the Clinton transition team in 2001 made history for vandalizing White House offices on their way out: the GAO reported intentional “damage, theft, vandalism, and pranks,” such as “removing keyboard keys, placing glue on desk drawers and leaving obscene voicemail messages.” (“Clinton Transition Left $15,000 Damage, GAO Says”).

Because of all the bitterness and strife of the Bush years, (and since, thanks to Obama’s never-sleeping White House Office of Predecessor Responsibility) but W. was elected in part on his promise that he would restore dignity to the presidency -- a promise he kept. (Don’t confuse the indignities heaped on him by his enemies -- and the loss of all dignity suffered by those who joined in -- as reflecting on Bush’s dignity. They never have, and never could).

And then Obama was elected, and here we go again. Susan Dale at Human Events provided one summary earlier this year of the new president’s lack of dignity: “ Dignity: You are Undignified and Shameless, Mr. President”, (and she didn’t even have room to mention the escapade with returning Churchill’s bust to the UK).

Then we have the President of the United States talking about whose “ass” he’s going to kick. Obama likes to kick ass. To date Obama’s impressive ass-kicking tally includes BP, the State of Arizona, Wall Street, the insurance industry, American taxpayers, Israel, and the gulf coast oil industry. The tally of American enemies’ asses he’s kicked so far is still at 0. (But his enemy ass-kissing score has so far beat all records!)

On the scale of unpresidential actions by our chief executive Obama sniping at Pete Hoekstra hardly even ranks. Not when Ahmedinejad and Saudi King Abdullah are laughing at us.

*The battery plant is an Obama Money green initiative, receiving $300 million in stimulus funds or tax breaks. The batteries will power cars like the Chevrolet Volt, which will take you 340 miles on a single charge -- miraculously economical before you factor in the $5 per mile taxpayer subsidy.

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