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With Time magazine comparing Obama to Jesus, I guess we should be relieved that, this week, liberals are only comparing him to Abraham Lincoln.
The one thing every liberal on TV seems to know about Lincoln is that he put rivals in his cabinet, as subtly indicated in the title to historian and plagiarist Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book: “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.” Like Lincoln, Goodwin is always open to contributions from her rivals, although Lincoln was better at crediting their words.
And hasn’t Obama talked to former rival Hillary about becoming his secretary of state? Hasn’t he had a sit-down with Sen. John McCain? Did I imagine this, or is he even now brokering peace talks between Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck?
Ergo: Obama is a genius.
Indeed, historians have just named Obama the best president-elect ever.
I don’t recall the media swooning when President George W. Bush reached out to rivals, such as Sen. Teddy Kennedy, who was asked to co-write Bush’s education bill. In fact, the way I remember it, Bush is liberals’ most hated president ever (only because they can’t remember George Washington or they’d hate him, too).
And yet no modern president has ever done more to bridge partisan divides and show respect to his opponents than George W. Bush. I do not say this with admiration; it is simply a fact.
Throughout the year and again in his convention speech during the 2000 presidential campaign, Gov. Bush bragged that he had “no stake in the bitter arguments of the last few years. I want to change the tone of Washington to one of civility and respect.”
(As a side note: Bush would never have been elected president if not for the “bitter arguments of the last few years,” in which Republicans exposed and impeached Bill Clinton, which then killed Al Gore’s presidential ambitions. So you’re welcome.)
But the point is: Bush was massively chummy with his enemies – Democrats, communists and the Congressional Black Caucus. So chummy that even they began to wonder if he was a little daft.
In his first few weeks in office, Bush met with more than 150 members of Congress, half of them Democrats – including five events with America’s leading liberal menace, Sen. Teddy Kennedy.
Bush’s very first social event at the White House was movie night with the Kennedy family to watch “Thirteen Days,” a falsely heroic portrayal of JFK’s disastrous handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This suggests to me that Obama’s first social move as president will have to be to invite Lindsey Graham over to a screening of “Larry the Cable Guy Saves Christmas.”
Naturally, Bush also had primary rival John McCain and his wife, Cindy, over to dinner at the White House.
Bush was the first president in memory to attend the congressional retreats of the opposing party. After two weeks in office, a Wall Street Journal column noted that Bush’s charm offensive was “disorienting the local Hatfields and McCoys.” (Again: You’re welcome.)
Bush even made a special point to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus upon taking office, which – given their feelings toward Bush – would be the equivalent of Obama holding a special meet-and-greet session with the upper management of the Ku Klux Klan.
Bush invited the Democratic black mayor of the District of Columbia to the White House, attended a majority black District church service and appointed the first black secretary of state.
And that was all before Feb. 1, 2001. (By the end of his presidency, he would have appointed the first two black secretaries of state.)
Though it was small potatoes after all that palling around with Teddy Kennedy, this is the same George W. Bush who had Muslim “spiritual leaders” to the White House a week after 9/11.
Bush also famously said of then-Russian president, former KGB agent Vladimir Putin, that he looked him in the eye and “was able to get a sense of his soul.”
(This made Bush’s critics almost as apoplectic as if he had said, “I looked into Putin’s eyes, and frankly, I just don’t trust the guy.” No matter what Bush did, liberals were incensed.)
As president, Bush scuttled the playing of “Hail to the Chief” in his honor and repeatedly reminded his staff to act humbly.
This is as opposed to Obama, who I believe is the first president-elect in history to have his own “Office of the President-elect” seal commissioned.
Like I always say, even if you don’t like the current president-elect, you should still have some respect for the office of the presidency-elect.