Rick Wagner Column January 22, 2009

Obama now must confront reality of nation’s problems

On Tuesday, we watched a cool cat be sworn into office. As Barack Obama jauntily sauntered in and out of various public functions arranged at the most expensive inauguration celebration in history — where he warned of tough economic times.

But the new president wasn’t to be shaken. Like a character from the 1960s sitcom, “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” he was all beatnik cool as he delivered a remarkably flat inauguration speech.

Even as I write this, Obama’s various press agents, employed at the shrinking media publications, are still poring over the text, trying to divine some phrase on which to heap praise.

What will probably happen is much the same as what took place over his much-anticipated speech on race, where afterwards hopeful media masses were reduced to simply lauding it without being able to quote any memorable passages.

Obama’s fallback position has always been to remain above the fray, a cool cucumber above the bubbling pot of politics.

This difficult image was made possible by media folks whose most penetrating question of him was the type of dog he might adopt, while their compatriots were busy scouring the icy tundra of Alaska for any scurrilous bit of information that might remove a future challenger from his gliding path.

But before the new president can throw on a black turtleneck and head to a coffee house to snap his fingers appreciatively at some bluesy jazz or poetry recited to bongo music, he faces real challenges.

One of the first is what to do with this grimy group of bureaucratic retreads and political operatives he is trying to drag into the executive branch of government. Some appointees are simply trying to keep their heads below the radar, even while sporting a thick coating of love, still revealed ugly blemishes.

Rahm Emanuel, political button man and Obama’s chief of staff, has been consigned to the Cheney bunker until the Illinois Senate debacle blows over and people quit asking questions about his participation. He was photographed sticking his tongue out and waving his fingers from his nose at the inauguration, so we surmise he hasn’t let the situation change him.

We also see the attorney general designee and former Clinton deputy attorney general, Eric Holder, being asked a few questions by fawning Senate members. They still seem afraid to ask him about the Clinton pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich and the coincidental large donation to his then-boss’s presidential foundation by Rich’s wife. Or the interesting connection between President Clinton’s pardon of Puerto Rican terrorists, coinciding with the senatorial bid of Hillary Clinton in a state where the Puerto Rican voting bloc can be quite important to a Democratic candidate.

Of real interest to those here in the West should also be Holder’s belief that the Second Amendment is essentially a typographical error. At the time of the recent Heller case, where the Supreme Court found the Second Amendment constituted an individual right, Holder filed a brief in strong opposition to that notion.

Moreover, the February issue of America’s 1st Freedom magazine lays out Holder’s long-standing and assertive battle against individual gun ownership. The magazine points out that he advocated rationing handgun sales as well as supporting their outright ban.

President Obama said during his campaign that he recognized the Second Amendment, but the appointment of such an attorney general would set the tone of the Justice Department and enable it to work against Second Amendment advocates throughout the United States. It makes one wonder how Holder can, on one hand, see the phrase “the people” imposing a veritable rainbow of individual rights from certain parts of the Constitution, but the same phrase being relegated to the collective when found in the Second Amendment.

Add to this the still-unfolding drama of a Treasury secretary nominee who twice was unable to figure out how to pay his taxes or the immigration status of his employees and it makes one wonder if Obama will become Dobie Gillis or turn into Maynard G. Krebbs.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong, which can be reached through the blogs entry at GJSentinel.com.


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