Monday, January 12, 2009


I was screaming at the radio this morning as I listened to NPR's Steve Inskeep and Cokie Roberts discussingSunday-morning interviews given by the outgoing and incoming presidents (emphasis added):

... INSKEEP: ... [Obama] spoke yesterday to ABC's This Week about homeland security.

OBAMA (on tape): When I set up the hierarchy of things that I've got to do, my number one priority every single day that I wake up is how do I make sure that the American people are safe.

INSKEEP: OK, so that's Barack Obama speaking, although you could imagine President Bush saying that.

ROBERTS: And has been saying that pretty much every day since September 11th, 2001. I was really struck, listening to these interviews back to back, Bush on Fox and Obama on ABC, of how similar they did sound. And that question of safety, of course, is the number one priority for an American president, but I don't think that President-elect Obama really had as strong a sense of that until he started getting these briefings every day that he's now getting from the intelligence community....

Yeah, right -- Obama never thought keeping Americans safe would be a big deal for him as president until he started getting those president-elect intelligence briefings. Never mind the fact that he said this in a Reader's Digest interview conducted before he even won the Democratic nomination:

The first priority of any President has to be to keep the American people safe.

Or this in a speech last June:

... the single greatest priority of my presidency will be doing anything and everything that I can to keep the American people safe.

This is change Beltway reporters want to believe in, but it isn't change at all.

Roberts was also struck by Obama's reluctance to focus on prosecuting Bush administration figures for war crimes -- but he said virtually the same thing last April to Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News. On the other hand, he's still rejecting torture (including waterboarding), he's still planning (in typically deliberate Obama fashion) to close Guantanamo, and he's still talking about engagement with Iran.

Roberts (and Bill Kristol and others) are desperately clinging to evidence that Obama has suddenly seen the Bush/Cheney light, and are ignoring evidence of breaks with the past. They desperately want to believe that Obama's become someone new since the campaign. I still don't see the evidence.

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