In the weeks approaching President Obama's first State of the Union address, some in the media have claimed that Obama has lacked accomplishments in his first year as president and thus, in the words of Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden, Obama has "little to show for '09." In fact, Obama's first year in office has been marked by a series of significant achievements, including creating jobs as a result of the economic stimulus, eliminating wasteful spending, increasing government transparency, and expanding federal health insurance programs to cover millions more children.
From Pruden's January 19 Washington Times column:
You have to be a true believer in Barack Obama's radical agenda to be a Democrat in Congress, and believe with the intensity of a suicide bomber. Mr. Obama can't even promise a harem of virgins in paradise.
With disapproval of their health care "reform" running almost to 60 percent in the public-opinion polls, the Democrats set themselves up for disaster in Massachusetts. Scott Brown is smart, good-looking and knows his (Boston baked) beans, but it was his spirited and unapologetic opposition to ObamaCare that got him to the brink of a career in the U.S. Senate. He was helped by the pathetic Martha Coakley, the most inept Massachusetts candidate since Michael Dukakis tanked in the presidential campaign of '88.
Numerous right-wing media figures have attacked the Obama administration's response to the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight by baselessly accusing the administration of not having initially been "serious" in its response. However, President Obama took several immediate actions following the incident, including ordering a review of national security measures and increasing airline security measures.
In his January 8 Washington Times column, Washington Times' editor emeritus Wesley Pruden accused President Obama of "first treating" the attempted attack on a Northwest Airline flight as "merely an amusing story" and falsely claimed Obama described the event as "an isolated incident."
From Washington Times' editor emeritus Wesley Pruden's January 5 column headlined "A little religion for the messiah":
Since it's an ill wind that blows nobody good, even downwind from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and his deadly skivvies, we may owe a profound debt of gratitude to the Detroit underwear bomber.
He's the instrument, maybe, of Barack Obama getting a little religion, and if so it's not the stuff of Arabia, but real, heartfelt attitude-changing religion. The president has apparently decided that Islamic terror is real, and aimed straight at America. He's even calling terror "terror" (just like George W. Bush).
This was no doubt difficult for the messiah from Hyde Park, who arrived in Washington persuaded that "terrorism" was a figment of George W.'s benighted imagination, that misunderstandings between America and the Muslim world were all the fault of America. A few apologies, a bended knee, a deep head-banging bow to an Arab king would demonstrate that Americans understand at last what chauvinist pigs and imperialist dogs those founding fathers really were - Englishmen all, with their ignorant ideas about American "exceptionalism" and the idea that free men bow to none but the Almighty.
Mr. Obama seems to have put a tentative foot on the sawdust trail that leads to redemption. He seems to understand what's at stake, maybe, and has decided that more speechifying won't stop the mad Muslim suspects who allegedly vow to kill us. We can always hope for change to believe in.
From Fox News' website, FoxNation.com:
On November 16 we noted Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden's claim that President Obama "has no natural instinct or blood impulse" for what America "is about" because "[h]e was sired by a Kenyan father, born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World and reared by grandparents in Hawaii, a paradise far from the American mainstream."
In today's column, Pruden responds to criticism of his "observations" by asserting that Obama's four years in Indonesia "inevitably" instilled in him "a distorted image of his native land" because "How could a little American boy, learning in cultural isolation in a Muslim school 10,000 miles from home, absorb anything but a strange and different culture?" Pruden adds, "Such a culture has its charms and merits on its own terms; some would regard it as a better culture than our own, but it isn't necessarily the culture to nurture a boy who would be president of the United States."
From Pruden's November 20 Washington Times column:
Now that every nut in America is equipped with a laptop computer, you're likely to run afoul of a nut on the loose almost anywhere.
I observed in this space earlier this week that Barack Obama's curious compulsion to travel the world to make endless apologies for America could stem from his spending the most formative years of his childhood in the Third World. I mentioned two observable facts, neither in any way accusatory or rude, that his father was a Kenyan (Marxist) and the mother who raised him was obviously attracted to men of the Third World. She married two of them.
These observations, and how that might have influenced a child, struck several readers - I've heard from them all - as unforgivable xenophobia, arrogance and, of course, the mindless all-purpose indictment, "racism." My observation that the president's mother was attracted to the Third World was, incredibly, taken as insult, as if being attracted to "men of the Third World" is bad. But bigotry, like beauty, lies often in the eye of the beholder, or in this case in the eye of the accuser. Most of the e-mails were crude, obscene and, worse, cast in the language of the schoolyard. Some included the obligatory shot at George W. Bush. With friends like these the president needs no enemies.
Mr. Obama himself writes about his birthright at length in his memoir, "Dreams From My Father" -- one of the best memoirs from any of our presidents. Since every one of us is the extension of our life's experiences, I observed that the impressions of his childhood could explain the president's obsession with making apologies and amends for his country's sins and shortcomings, perceived and otherwise.
No president before him, Democrat, Republican or Whig, had felt such compulsion to tug at his forelock. But these are familiar complaints heard in the Third World. When I lived and worked there years ago, I heard them often. Everything America does is suspect, usually meant to wound and humiliate, even its good-hearted attempts to do good. Such complaints are usually driven by resentment, covetousness and even malice. A child growing up in such an atmosphere inevitably absorbs a distorted image of his native land, missing something of his birthright.
How could a little American boy, learning in cultural isolation in a Muslim school 10,000 miles from home, absorb anything but a strange and different culture?
"I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher) and grasshopper (crunchy)," he writes. The strangeness was "one long adventure, the bounty of a boy's life." Such a culture has its charms and merits on its own terms; some would regard it as a better culture than our own, but it isn't necessarily the culture to nurture a boy who would be president of the United States.
From Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden's November 17 column (emphasis added):
So far it's a memorable trip. He established a new precedent for how American presidents should pay obeisance to kings, emperors, monarchs, sovereigns and assorted other authentic man-made masters of the universe. He stopped just this side of the full grovel to the emperor of Japan, risking a painful genuflection if his forehead had hit the floor with a nasty bump, which it almost did. No president before him so abused custom, traditions, protocol (and the country he represents). Several Internet sites published a rogue's gallery showing how other national leaders - the prime ministers of Israel, India, Slovenia, South Korea, Russia and Dick Cheney among them - have greeted Emperor Akihito with a friendly handshake and an ever-so-slight but respectful nod (and sometimes not even that).
Now we know why Mr. Obama stunned everyone with an earlier similar bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, only the bow to the Japanese emperor was far more flamboyant, a sign of a really deep sense of inferiority. He was only practicing his bow in Riyadh. Sometimes rituals are learned with difficulty. It took Bill Clinton months to learn how to return a military salute worthy of a commander in chief; like any draft dodger, he kept poking a thumb in his eye until he finally got it. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, seems right at home now giving a wow of a bow. This is not the way an American president impresses evildoers that he's strong, tough and decisive, that America is not to be trifled with.
But Mr. Obama, unlike his predecessors, likely knows no better, and many of those around him, true children of the grungy '60s, are contemptuous of custom. Cutting America down to size is what attracts them to "hope" for "change." It's no fault of the president that he has no natural instinct or blood impulse for what the America of "the 57 states" is about. He was sired by a Kenyan father, born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World and reared by grandparents in Hawaii, a paradise far from the American mainstream.
The Washington Times is waging an anti-gay war on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, including penning eight editorials since late September specifically aimed at smearing and discrediting him. These editorials have used anti-gay rhetoric, falsehoods, and distortions to attack Jennings, including accusing him of "promoting homosexuality in schools" and falsely suggesting he "encouraged" the "statutory rape" of a "15-year-old high school sophomore."
In his August 28 Washington Times column, Wesley Pruden writes:
Nobody does celebrity death like the Americans. The British are capable of spectacular one-shot descents into commercial grief; the ceremonial burial honors for Princess Di couldn't be duplicated anywhere. Where else is there a backdrop like Westminster Abbey? But only in America can a celebrity's death be a good career move.
Democrats are smiling through their tears, determined not to waste an opportunity and figuring out how to channel grief over the death of Teddy Kennedy into a campaign to save President Obama's health-care scheme. Sen. Chris Dodd says "maybe Teddy's passing will remind people once again that we are there to get a job done."
But maybe not. Moments of synthetic unity rarely last very long. "When the dust settles and the tributes end," says William Galston, who was a Clinton adviser on domestic policy, "we will be very close to where we were a week ago. I do not think this is a galvanizing moment. The divide is too deep."
But there's power in celebrity death. The death of Michael Jackson and the resulting flood of tears is likely to stand for a long time as the standard for how to make death memorable, profitable and fun. There's talk of an amusement park to be built around Michael's tomb when the dearly departed moves on to a final resting place at Neverland Ranch. Elvis has Graceland, so why not? The family is feuding just now about the whether and whenever. The smart money in family feuds is always on the faction with actual possession of the body.
The rich tradition of commercial grief is an old one. When Hank Williams, one of the early immortals of country music, died six decades ago so many cars, bicycles, wagons and pickup trucks descended on a backwoods cemetery in Alabama the governor had to call out the National Guard. "Everyone who could croak a note wanted to pluck a guitar or play the fiddle over his grave," his widow recalled. Six feet under, Hank was so lonesome he could cry.
When someone famous for having done something really important dies, his memory is at risk for similar parody. Washington is awash just now in lugubrious self-congratulations for the "moment of unity" that is said to have descended on the capital in the wake of Teddy's death. Some people mistake good manners for regrets for having failed to share Teddy's politics. Other mourners, real, imagined, right and left, are eager to strike heroic poses as old Kennedy pals and confidantes. One pundit recalls that he was once invited to dinner at Chez Kennedy and that the senator even endorsed, sort of, a book he once wrote. Fame in Washington is where you can find a reflection to bask in.
The author of another "remembrance," anxious to be thought a Kennedy insider, manages to get through a hymn to the senator's career and character without mentioning Mary Jo Kopechne. The New York Times notes the tragedy at Chappaquiddick Island as merely a "personal embarrassment." Ted Sorensen, a faithful liege man to the Kennedy family, writes in Time magazine that the significance of the Chappaquiddick "incident" is that it ultimately "ended [Teddy's] bright prospects for still higher office." (Miss Kopechne, who is still dead, did not return phone calls for comment.)
No one should be held responsible for what he says at a wedding or a funeral, though President Obama once more demonstrated a community activist's knowledge of American history with his description of Teddy as the greatest senator in history. You might make an argument that Teddy is the hardest-working since Lyndon B. Johnson, but fans of Daniel Webster and other giants of the Senate would argue that he was not necessarily the best senator in the history of Massachusetts.
Teddy, like celebrities before him, is hardly responsible for over-the-top eulogies by those who are dying, you might say, to croak a note or play the fiddle over his grave. Teddy, facing eternity, turned seriously to his Christian faith for sustenance in his last days, singing hymns with his family, and somewhere over on the Other Side he may be squirming, redeemed by grace but troubled by genuine regret and remorse, wishing he could tell the suck-up artists on this side to knock it off.
Celebrity grief, real and not so real, will pass. A moment always does. The next celebrity death is just around the corner.
Purporting to give evidence that Congress is over-privileged and disconnected from voters, Wesley Pruden falsely claimed in his Washington Times column that Democratic Sens. Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad "are under investigation by ethics committees for taking sweetheart mortgages" and that "Democratic congressmen (and women) denounce the voters who sent them to Washington as Nazis, Brown Shirts and the 'un-American.' " In fact, the Senate Ethics Committee found that Dodd and Conrad "did not violate ethics rules," and Democrats did not refer to health care opponents as "Nazis," "Brown Shirts," or "un-American"; rather, they denounced protesters' tactics.
From Pruden's July 10 Washington Times column, "Ministry of Apology would cure all ills":
Apologies, as every wayward husband knows, are plentiful and cheap (and rarely effective). President Obama's major accomplishment so far is a speech apologizing to the Islamic world for nobody is quite sure what. Maybe it was for building the Twin Towers so tall that Al Qaeda just couldn't resist the temptation to take them down. Maybe it was an apology for saving Sunni Muslims in Bosnia, which offended Shi'ites. Or maybe it was for saving the Shi'ites, which irritated Sunnis. Maybe it was just for being an American in the first place; shame is the default position on the leftmost fringe of his party.
From Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden's June 5 column:
Mr. Obama's revelation of his "inner Muslim" in Cairo reveals much about who he is. He is our first president without an instinctive appreciation of the culture, history, tradition, common law and literature whence America sprang. The genetic imprint writ large in his 43 predecessors is missing from the Obama DNA. He no doubt meant no offense in returning that bust of Churchill ("Who he?") or imagining that a DVD of American movies was appropriate in an exchange of state gifts with Gordon Brown. Nor did he likely understand why it was an offense against history (and good manners) to agree to the exclusion of the Queen from Saturday's commemoration of the Anglo-American liberation of France. Kenya simply routed Kansas.
The great Cairo grovel accomplished nothing beyond the humiliation of the president and the embarrassment of his constituents, few of whom share his need to put America on its knees before its enemies. No president before him has ever shamed us so. We must never forget it.
From Wesley Pruden's May 5 Analysis/Opinion piece in The Washington Times:
Putting together loans backed by greedy governments will be considerably easier than fixing what went wrong in Detroit. The further irony is that the United Auto Workers, which extracted the featherbed contracts a quarter of a century ago that doomed GM and Chrysler, will now hold a majority stake in Chrysler and a slightly smaller stake in GM.
We'll see now how the UAW deals with self-abuse. In the early '70s GM imagined that it could stay rich forever selling junk if only it could avoid strikes that shut down the junk-assembly lines. So it agreed to anything the unions demanded.
Then the Japanese arrived with cars of modest size and high quality; the impact on Detroit was of a reprise of Pearl Harbor. This time there was no wake-up call. Good times continued in the junkyard. Soon the Japanese were through with lunch and beginning to sup on Detroit's dinner.
Despite the scientific consensus that human-caused global warming is real and is negatively affecting the planet, the media have repeatedly provided a platform for critics who argue that the Earth is in a period of "cooling" or that the issue of global warming does not need to be addressed.