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We've pledged here to give credit where it's due, even to our opponents. We wish the other side would do the same. The Bush administration is coming to an end, and the lack of any graciousness by the liberal press is telling. The fact is that Mr. Bush, with all his shortcomings, has accomplished a great deal, but the party-line media simply won't acknowledge it. Peter Brookes, of the Heritage Foundation, does acknowledge it, in a column today. It is welcome:
It's not just by chance that there hasn't been another terrorist strike here at home since the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in the skies over Pennsylvania - more than seven years ago now. While far from perfect in execution, the Bush administration pulled out the stops in fighting terror at home and abroad, which, prior to 9/11, had been considered by many to be little more than a law enforcement problem.
Since 2001, the government has thwarted a number of plots, including conspiracies to blow up airplanes and fuel farms, assault an army base, and attack Los Angeles and Chicago skyscrapers - and surely others.
Mere luck, say the Bush haters, the same "luck" that saw a drastic drop in crime in New York under Rudy Giuliani.
Aiding this success has been a reinvigorated national security establishment, including the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence and joint intelligence and law enforcement centers.
Of course, they're a threat to civil liberties, say the Bush bashers.
Ties with Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, have been normalized after years of troubled relations. Japan is now making increasing contributions to international security across the globe.
Indonesia? Isn't that where Obama grew up? Why, he would have made the Indonesians love us, say the Bush detractors.
While progress has been glacial, Washington did get Pyongyang to agree to end all its nuke programs.
US-India relations are better than ever due to Bush administration efforts.
Today, Afghanistan is a lot better off: more than 30 million Afghans no longer labor under terrorist Taliban rule. Healthcare access is up; child mortality is down. Six million kids go to school, including nearly 2 million girls who would not otherwise be allowed to.
Don't expect any credit from "feminist" organizations. They'll follow whatever line their leftist idols give them.
And don't expect "human rights" groups to give credit on this one:
In Africa, President Bush spent more on fighting HIV/AIDS than any previous American president. As a result, medicine is reaching more than 2 million African HIV/AIDS patients. Anti-malaria programs have gained traction, too.
In a shocker, Libya's Colonel Qaddafi renounced terrorism and gave up his weapons of mass destruction programs, including one for nukes. We now have a Tripoli embassy for the first time in three and a half decades.
President Bush also kept his campaign promise of fielding a missile defense system to protect the American people from the threat of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction from the likes of North Korea and Iran.
Won't work, say the bashers. But it will. Finally...
Sure, there are still challenges in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Russia and China - plus al Qaeda - that the next administration will have to grapple with. The same was true for the Bush team when it took over in 2001 from the Clinton administration.
The fact is international relations is a tough business - and will continue to be. Countries pursue their national interests - often at others' expense, including ours. But the Bush administration has made real progress in advancing our interests during its tenure, especially in preventing another terror attack right here at home - no small feat.
Accordingly, it deserves more credit than the conventional wisdom affords it.
Lotsa luck. Given who controls the universities, and the media, it may take decades before Mr. Bush is given proper credit.
GOOD ECONOMIC MOVE - AT 8:49 A.M. ET: WASHINGTON (AP) -- President-elect Barack Obama wants more transparency and strict guidelines for using the second $350 billion of the bailout fund Congress approved last fall to stabilize the nation's financial system.
COMMENT: Right on. Good move by Obama. The handling of the first chunk of bailout money was a disgrace, and an embarrassment for both the government and the free-enterprise system. Much of the money has disappeared. It went to bankers who then thumbed their noses at both administration and public by refusing to say how the money was being used. If these jerks want socialism, that's the way to guarantee it.
LET THE SYMBOLISM BEGIN - AT 8:39 A.M. ET: From pool reports on President-elect Obama's day yesterday:
The president-elect, his wife and two daughters departed the Hay-Adams hotel in the motorcade at 7.03pm and after driving past the Washington monument arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 7.12pm.
The family climbed the steps to the monument alongside scaffolding erected for a platform. At one point the president-elect appeared to pause in front of Lincoln's statue. They spent fifteen minutes inside, exiting at 7.26pm and entering the monument's underground exhibit.
COMMENT: Okay. Perfectly appropriate. But there are also reports that the president-elect and celebrants will be served a lunch on inauguration day that is designed to reflect what Lincoln might have had on his inauguration day. Enough already. But look, if you've got to channel an American president, Lincoln is the guy. At least we don't hear the name "Jimmy Carter." And that is change we can believe in.
NINE DAYS TO THE AGE OF OBAMIUS
Posted at 8:08 a.m.
In nine days, Barack H. Obama Jr. becomes president, and a halo will form around Washington. We can report these developments:
- CIA director-designate Leon Panetta requested that from now on he be known as "008." Obama turned him down, and ordered him to stop introducing himself by saying, "Panetta. Leon Panetta."
- Obama shocked reporters when he displayed his new book, written in secret, called, "What I Really Believe." He claimed it can be read at one sitting - all three pages.
- Joe Biden missed a high-level intelligence briefing after he left his I.D. at home.
- All key members of the new administration have been invited to watch the season premiere of "24" tonight. Eric Holder, nominated to be attorney general, was ordered to prepare a memo on the bad guys' legitimate grievances.
- Mr. Obama was reportedly skeptical when his top global-warming advisers were asked to do the climate forecast for inauguration day, and predicted bikini weather.
BRING OUT THE FRIENDS - AT 8:09 P.M. ET: There is this headline today, from the AP:
Lifting veil of privacy, friends discuss Kennedy
COMMENT: Caroline, that is. When they start bringing out "friends" to lift the "veil of privacy," you know the candidacy has problems.
ABSOLUTE VULGARITY - AT 6:27 P.M. ET: Get this lead, from The New York Times today:
WASHINGTON — As the nation is on the verge of inaugurating its first black president, the Republican Party is facing a telling choice: whether to elect its first black chairman.
The contest for Republican Party chairman comes as Republican leaders seek to figure out what the party stands for, as well as what face to put forward as they struggle to avoid shrinking into a party of Southern white men in an increasingly diverse country.
COMMENT: That's reporting? That's an editorial. John McCain got 46 percent of the vote, and I guarantee that not all his support came from Vicksburg. And he did this in the face of the most biased reporting we've seen in modern political history. Further, Democratic majorities in both houses used to be greater than they are today. This is the kind of "journalism" that's killing the news business.
CONTRIBUTORS, BRUSH UP YOUR LANGUAGES - AT 6:07 P.M. ET:
Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- President-elect Barack Obama will uphold at least one of Washington’s old ways: the appointment of campaign donors to plum ambassadorships.
“There probably will be some” political appointees serving abroad, Obama said at a news conference yesterday. “It would be disingenuous for me to suggest that there are not going to be some excellent public servants but who haven’t come through the ranks of the civil service.”
COMMENT: Will someone please point out that change we're supposed to believe in. You can send e-mails.
BASHING IN BRITAIN - AT 6:01 P.M. ET: London's Daily Mail, which features a refreshing lack of political correctness, publishes some revealing photos of the violence acccompanying today's "anti-Israel" (read anti-American, anti-freedom, anti-Christian, anti-West) demonstration. The link is here.
COMMENT: Why is it that so many of these anti-Israel, anti-American demonstrations descend into violence? Have you ever seen a pro-American march end that way?
SARAH STRIKING AGAIN - AT 11:29 A.M. ET: From The Politico:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin expressed displeasure Friday with media reports of her recent comments about Caroline Kennedy.
“I was not commenting at all on Caroline Kennedy as a prospective U.S. senator, but rather on the seemingly arbitrary ways in which news organizations determine the level and kind of scrutiny given to those who aspire to public office,” Palin said.
COMMENT: Governor Sarah is correct. The press twisted her remarks. She's now systematically attacking the media, clearly part of a long-term strategy in which she'll speak over journalists' heads directly to the people, and make that part of her style. Reagan did the same thing, and it worked.
Palestinian terror groups hosted in Syria, including Hamas, rejected deploying international observers or troops in Gaza on Saturday.
A statement issued by the groups after a meeting attended by Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal also rejected any security arrangement that "infringes on the right of resistance against Israeli occupation."
COMMENT: If they stick to that position, it could end any hope for an early cease-fire. Of course, Hamas might actually welcome a continuation of the war. Each day the international press strives harder to blame Israel, with no regard whatever for what Hamas does, or what it stands for. Have you seen a single quote from the Hamas charter? It could have been written by the Third Reich. But never mind. Who are we to question another culture?
FINDING THE POSITIVE
Posted at 9:38 a.m. ET
After German troops poured all over the American lines and began the Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944, General Eisenhower ordered that there be no long faces in Allied headquarters. It was an opportunity, he said, and time would prove him correct.
Now Republicans wonder whether the probable seating of borderline amusing comic Al Franken as Minnesota's next senator is an opportunity for them as well. The Politico reports:
With only a longshot court appeal standing in the way of Democrat Al Franken’s election to the Senate, Republicans are gritting their teeth and bracing for the arrival of a new senator whose every utterance will sound like nails on a chalkboard to them.
While Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) has filed suit to contest the results of a disputed recount process that turned his narrow lead into a 225-vote deficit, his likely defeat stands to turn Franken, the polarizing former “Saturday Night Live” writer, into the senator who launched a thousand direct mail fundraising appeals.
And for good reason.
According to Carleton College political scientist Steven Schier, Franken’s record as a “flamboyant and aggressive partisan” would make him ripe for criticism back home.
“I think it’s impossible to overstate the hostility Minnesota Republicans feel toward Al Franken,” Schier said. “He will be a very useful fundraising tool.”
Democrats are hopeful that the resentment Franken faces from Republicans both within and outside of his home state will not impede his ability to win over his constituents – and his fellow members of the U.S. Senate. They believe that by leaving behind his past as a bomb-throwing entertainer and focusing on issues, he will earn the respect of colleagues and can build on the 42 percent of the vote he won in November.
People forget that there was a third candidate. Franken didn't even come close to a real majority.
Polling results this week confirmed Franken's precarious position: more Minnesotans have a negative impression of him than a positive one, by a 45 percent to 37 percent margin. Those would be dismal numbers under any circumstances, but for a newly-elected senator they would be particularly alarming.
It's incredible that a man with a negative impression rating will be the next senator. What was Minnesota thinking?
While Franken’s allies in Minnesota are optimistic about his ability to temper his style to one that is more suited to the Senate, Republicans say self-restraint may not come so easily to such an experienced performer.
“If he was in the U.S. Senate, would there be any professional decorum he could exhibit?” asked Carey, the GOP chairman. “Would he be able to control himself?”
Indeed, at the height of the campaign, even as he was locked in the political equivalent of mortal combat with Coleman, Franken couldn’t quite resist the comedic impulse, consulting on a “Saturday Night Live” skit mocking Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in late September.
“I think that he’ll have a constant battle between the desire for – how shall I put it? – comedic satisfaction and a senatorial image,” said Schier. “Can he help himself? Can he prevent himself from trying to be funny in a controversial way?”
Well, if he actually becomes funny, people might give him a pass. But his record for the last ten years wouldn't win him a lifetime achievement award from the Comedy Club.
In May, the Minnesota Republican Party drew attention to an article Franken wrote for Playboy in 2000, titled “Porn-o-Rama!”, charging that it represented “the disrespectful writings of a nearly 50-year-old man who seems to think that women’s bodies are the domain of a man who just wants to have a good time.”
Later in the race, a Coleman ad criticized Franken for writing “tasteless, sexist jokes,” “juicy porn” and “foul-mouthed attacks on anyone he disagrees with.”
The attacks apparently stuck, at least with Republicans. Republican activist Joe Repya, a retired military officer who considered running against Coleman in the GOP primary, said Franken is “viewed by both sides as a mean-spirited, carpet-bagging, foul-mouthed sexist supported by Hollywood money.”
That nails it.
But Franken is a Harvard graduate. No one accuses him of being dumb. He might reform, which could be the worst news, because then he might be an effective senator on behalf of some very bad leftist causes.
CHICAGO — Five people were shot as spectators left a crowded high school basketball game Friday in what police called a possibly gang-related drive-by attack that sent panicked students running into a snowy street on the city's South Side.
Five males — three in serious condition and two in critical — were taken from Paul Laurence Dunbar Vocational Career Academy around 8 p.m., said Chicago Fire Department spokeswoman Eve Rodriguez. Hospital spokespeople said later that at least three were expected to be treated and released. "It was crazy. It was like killers on the loose," said Joshua Glaze, 15, a freshman at the school.
COMMENT: The South Side is Obama's neighborhood, yet there is no comment from the president-elect. Maybe he'll tell us that "we have only one mayor at a time." The news is filled with stories today about how Obama is planning a new, more humane war on terror, with sensitivities shown. It's time he and other politicians showed some sensitivity to the gang violence destroying their own people. What "progressive" plan is there for that? I hear silence.
10 DAYS TO THE AGE OF OBAMIUS
Posted at 8:06 a.m. ET
In ten days, Barack H. Obama Jr. becomes president, relieving the Earth of its burdens. We can report these developments:
- The president-elect confirmed that his mother-in-law will be living in the White House. But he refused to assign her a room, saying that's the president's job and "we only have one president at a time."
- CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta was warned by Washington police to stop hanging out under streetlights in his trenchcoat, with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. Panetta claims he was just getting experience.
- Mr. Obama conceded that his transition team got carried away when it sent his economic message to Congress in a vehicle called The Ark of the Stimulus. "I'm not Moses," the president-elect joked, as he stepped quickly out of the way to avoid a burning bush.
- Hillary Clinton is suggesting that we send an envoy to the mountains of Pakistan to live among the people, in tents with no electricity or running water, to woo them away from Al Qaeda. No word on who the envoy would be, but Clinton's note pad contained the name "C. Kennedy."
- Vice-president-elect Joe Biden won his battle with the Obama team and will, once sworn in, receive his own office with Princess phone. There is no agreement on a desk or parking space.
- Bernard Madoff, who swindled investors out of fifty billion dollars, is being considered for secretary of commerce. Obama believes that anyone who can swindle people for years while convincing them that they're getting rich belongs in a liberal administration.
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
- Lester Markel, late Sunday editor
of The New York Times.
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