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Exorcising Bush's Ghost

Obama addresses Congress last night. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Simply by being there, President Obama and Vice President Biden created powerful imagery of change at last night's joint session of Congress. There was no Dick Cheney skulking over the president's right shoulder. Gone was the tongue-tied Texan staring blankly into the TelePrompter, replaced by a commanding and self-possessed African-American Democrat. And up there in the first lady's box? A radiant black woman.

But sometimes bygones won't be bygones.

Indeed, absolutely central to Obama's argument last night for his massive economic recovery package and his hugely ambitious plans in the areas of energy, health and education was his conclusion that the previous administration so utterly failed to rise to the challenges facing the nation that we are now facing "a day of reckoning."

Here's the transcript, as delivered.

Obama went into last night's address with enormous popular support. But he still needed to turn the country's faith in him into faith in his far-reaching agenda. To fully make the case for such dramatic action, he had to more clearly explain his thought process.

He did that in three fundamental steps. First, by describing the profound irresponsibility that brought us here in the first place. Then by reminding us that the American government has a history of achieving greatness in times of crisis. Then by hearkening to this country's indomitable spirit. It was a potent combination.

And that first part amounted to possibly the most damning summary of the Bush legacy yet.

"The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank," Obama said. "We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy, yet we import more oil today than ever before. The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform. Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for. And though all of these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.

"In other words, we have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity, where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations -- regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

"Well, that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

"Now is the time to act boldly and wisely, to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity."

Since the day after the election, Obama has been accused of overreaching. But in what I consider the second major part of his central argument, he argued that now is not the time to think small:

"I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves, that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity, for history tells a different story," he said. "History reminds us that, at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the G.I. Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.

"In each case, government didn't supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.

"We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again.

"That is why, even as it cuts back on programs we don't need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education."

And Obama made the third part of his central argument with the help of a Skutnik -- one of the carefully-selected guests in the first lady's box that presidents have held out as examples to the nation ever since Ronald Reagan in 1982 lauded Lenny Skutnik, the government worker who weeks before had leapt into the icy Potomac River to rescue a survivor of an Air Florida crash.

Obama's chief Skutnik was Ty'Sheoma Bethea, an eighth-grade student from a crumbling junior high school in South Carolina.

"She had been told that her school is hopeless," Obama explained. "But the other day after class, she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this chamber. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp.

"The letter asks us for help and says, 'We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself, and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina, but also the world. We are not quitters.'

"That's what she said: 'We are not quitters.' These words -- (APPLAUSE.) These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that, even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres, a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.

"Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us."

Of his three major priorities, Obama was most emphatic about health care. Almost shouting, he declared: "[L]et there be no doubt: Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year."

He also responded to several populist concerns about his financial rescue plan.

Notably, he placed a good deal of distance between himself and how the Bush administration apportioned the first chunk of bailout money: "Now, I understand that when the last administration asked this Congress to provide assistance for struggling banks, Democrats and Republicans alike were infuriated by the mismanagement and the results that followed. So were the American taxpayers; so was I.

"So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you: I get it. But I also know that, in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger or yield to the politics of the moment."

He vowed: "This time -- this time, CEOs won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks, or buy fancy drapes, or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over."

And he offered one big reason to discount the largely negative judgment of Wall Street on his bank rescue plan thus far: "I understand that, on any given day, Wall Street may be more comforted by an approach that gives bank bailouts with no strings attached and that holds nobody accountable for their reckless decisions, but such an approach won't solve the problem."

Obama defended his anti-foreclosure plan, alluding to the fact that it won't cover investors or people who can't make even reduced payments: "It's a plan that won't help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values, Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped to bring about."

And he identified some modest cuts he intends to make in his budget, including "direct payments to large agribusinesses that don't need them," "no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq," and "Cold War-era weapons systems we don't use."

He said he would raise taxes by ending tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans: "Let me be absolutely clear, because I know you'll end up hearing some of the same claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people. If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, a quarter million dollars a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime."

One of the biggest surprises of the night was his rousing call for individuals to pursue their schooling. "[D]ropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself; it's quitting on your country," he said, also asking "every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training."

He also asked Congress "to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution."

There were only a few lines in his speech that actively pit the two sides of the aisle against each other. One came when Obama spoke of the importance of drawing down the debt. Republicans cheered wildly. "See, I know we can get some consensus in here," Obama ad-libbed. But when he returned to his text -- saying "With the deficit we inherited..." -- it was the Democrats' turn to roar.

And rather than explicitly reaching out to Republicans on any particular issue, Obama chose instead to speak more generally about common ground: "I know that we haven't agreed on every issue thus far," he said. "There are surely times in the future where we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. I know that. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground."

By Dan Froomkin  |  February 25, 2009; 12:08 PM ET
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Thanks, Dan. This is the first review of the President's address that makes sense to me. Other commenters seem to be more interested in the response in the polls or crabbing about their pet peeves. My reaction to the speech was that the President put Congress on notice that it better not get in his way or those who oppose his policies will face political death. The Nation rightly stands behind him to face the challenges ahead.

Posted by: ThePoliticalObserver | February 25, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Too many ovations--"let the man speak!" I cried out as Pelosi jumped to her feet for the thousandth time. I thought she was trying to steal the spotlight or perhaps to bask in his glow--either way it was not appealing. And the same old back and forth between the two sides of the house seemed dreadfully inappropriate--very adolescent--a kind of Terrel Owens approach to politics. A Bronx cheer to congresspeople on both sides of the aisle.

Posted by: writinron | February 25, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I thought Bobby Jindal was the exorcist.

It was an ambitious speech. It will be interesting to see how much actually gets accomplished.

Posted by: don1one | February 25, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Watching Pelosi jump up and down and Biden's response to her makes me think I know what the intro skit on SNL will be this week.

Posted by: m_mcmahon | February 25, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Dan Froomkin continues to be useless, still suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Where, exactly, is the analysis here?

I thought I would check out one column in the post-Bush era to see if Froomkin could get over his snide lunacy and actually honestly live up to the name of this column "White House Watch."

Mission failed, Dan. At least I won't have to read you ever again, so thanks for sparing me those few minutes.

Posted by: etpietro | February 25, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Bobby's given name is Piyush. He was raised as a Hindu but now says he's a Christian. Do you think he's a stealth Christian and that his inner Hindu is lying in wait? Who is the real Piyush Jindal? Who's he been palin' around with?
His speech reminded me of the infamous McCain "lime green" speech in Philadelphia in response to Obama's nomination. "That's not change we can believe in! (grin grin)"
When Obama came down the gauntlet and met Richard Shelby I expected him to pull out his birth certificate to show Shelby during their amicable chat.
These Republicans are other-worldly.
Cut those taxes, that's all we need. It worked so well the last eight years.

Posted by: bdunn1 | February 25, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for giving us a sterling example of the complete lack of critical thinking skills dispalyed by republicans over the last 8 years.
Where did Froomkin demonstrate snide lunacy in covering Bush? I don't see what's wrong with contrasting the present administration with the previous administration 2 months in. I'm glad I won't have to waste 10 seconds reading any more of your inane comments.

Anyway, I agree on the whole standing ovation issue. At least Obama seems to be consistently following his theme of not avoiding tough decisions. He isn't going to put off energy issues, education or health care reform simply because they are divisive.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

And no matter how well Obama handles the welfare of the nation, some will never accept him . . . his being a non-Republican, and black to boot! One of my usual thinly-disguised-nasty incoming e-mails this morning was of the typical "yes, but . . ." variety. Guy made a silly faint attempt at portraying himself as bipartisan, then got down to the same old stuff. He pointed out that the stock market is continuing to fall under Obama. This is an administration that has been at the helm for all of 5 weeks . . . and my blindly conservative acquaintance wants to totally dismiss from consideration the Bush years that effected the present near-terminal bleeding of the stock market! He's found a way in his own mind to blame everything on Barack Obama. Our Congress appears to be a microcosm of the American public at large, what with its mule-headed, heels-dug-in, self-absorbed conservatives. Obstructionism is pursued with a sort of vengeance--as if the Bush years were "the good old days." Personally, I'm in my 81st year, and this is the best president I've seen yet--back to and including Franklin Roosevelt.

Posted by: TomCamfield | February 25, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"Where did Froomkin demonstrate snide lunacy in covering Bush?"


That's rich!! try every column ever written. Now we get the man crush articles. Oh obama looked at me!! oh obama shook my hand, I will never wash it again! Oh Obama looked my way! Swoon!. Froomkin is a joke only good for laughs....

Posted by: pwaa | February 25, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

" Personally, I'm in my 81st year, and this is the best president I've seen yet--back to and including Franklin Roosevelt. "

well grandpa time to take your meds apparently. FDR, who defeated the Nazis and Japanese, served for 4 terms, tackled the depression? And after 5 weeks, Obama is his equal? What idiocy

Posted by: pwaa | February 25, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Last nights address may be the most honest speak given to congress since Ford's speech. The speech where he said the state of the country was not good.

Well that was 35 years ago and the state of affairs are in the ditch again. We need mules to pull us out, not muleheaded stubborness keeping us there.

We should leave the nit pickers in the dust as the majority of us try to move forward. For god's sake any bill drafted in Congress will have a few flea's.

The last 8 years of tax breaks to the top 2% and job's being done away with for the remaining 98% just don't seen to be working. It is a time for a new begining, a new dawn. Last night was the latest shot across the bow for the future.

Posted by: nstein1 | February 25, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Dan, keep up the good work. The chat today was cool, too.

Looks like bobmoses/Pugi/PWAA needs a nap.

Posted by: crix | February 25, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

There is no such a thing as booschie derangement syndrome . There are rather deranged mental defectives who support the blue blooded aristocrat elitist crime family booschie . These would be known as traitors , warmongers , thuggish bullies , juvenile loudmouths , and loathsome racist class war artists .

Posted by: gadzooks1 | February 25, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't you just save some time and write "Obama is awesome; Bush sucked" for every entry?

Posted by: wapo9 | February 25, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I find the comments of pwaa in response to TomCamfield to be offensive and rude. You disagree with a person's views--lay it on. But when you attack a person because of their age (in this case), race, or gender, you step over a line which should not be tolerated in a civil society. Back under the bridge, troll!

Posted by: writinron | February 25, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey pwaa, you should try studying some history. That has never been a long suit with Republicans, so maybe you are a Republican. People who have watched a string of politicians over 80 years, and studied some actual history along the way, are in a pretty good position to judge their merits. I am only 72, so I don't have as many years invested. At one time early in my life I was a Goldwater conservative, but the Republican Party has lost its way and seems to be wandering in the desert. People like Jindal do not inspire confidence as guides to lead them out of the wilderness. My father, a longtime treasurer for a Republican county committee, complained about them on his deathbed, and they have gone downhill since then.

Posted by: FredinVicksburg | February 25, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

pwaa needs more than a nap. A good hard slap to instill some respect for his elders is called for.

Posted by: bdunn1 | February 25, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Lets imagine for a moment that Obama is a republican and congress in its present configuration. What would Obama do?, and how would he confront a totally hostile and obstructionist democratic house?. You see people, grand ideas and plans are only that, the success or failure rests on the shoulders of everyone, the institutions that must put them in practice and many other factors. Former president Bush is no more responsible for the collapse of the economy, than Mr. Obama will be if his plans succeed or fail. To state otherwise is at best naive and at worse stupid. Some people even think that a speech alone will improve the economy, it reminds me of those who think that we humans can somehow change the climate.

Posted by: hoffmannrojas | February 25, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: hiberniantears | February 25, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Writing for a living is tough. Give Dan a break. Sooner or later he will start making sense.

Posted by: gary4books | February 25, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The koolaid drinkers are out I see. Drink the kool aid, inanely walk around chanting O-BAM-A, O-BAM-A. Blame Bush for everything. Rinse and repeat.

Posted by: pwaa | February 25, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: FredinVicksburg | February 25, 2009 3:49 PM

I was a history minor, you twit. Liberals are the only people who when they form a firing squad, form a circle.......

Posted by: pwaa | February 25, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

" ... Lenny Skutnik, the government worker who weeks before had leapt into the icy Potomac River to rescue a survivor of an Air Florida crash."

Describing this important tragedy in DC history as
"an Air Florida crash" is a bit like calling the 911 attack on the Pentagon as "a fire in government building"

Posted by: billx2001 | February 25, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Exorcising Bush's ghost will take years of painfully hard efforts by all Americans, unfortunately. That much is certain now.

Posted by: TalkingHead1 | February 25, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

It was an awesome speech and necessary towards getting us to move forward. Shamefully, we have children disguised as adults who are stomping their feet in a hissy fit over the President's refusal to keep doing the same thing over that is not working and over again expecting different results. That is the layman's definition of insanity and I am a happy Kool-Aid drinker since we don't have a President doing crazy things like cutting taxes more for the rich and letting the banks sell, well trash that we the little people have to work to pay.

I am happy with this President! Dan, YOU just keep on him because we have no loyal opposition to keep his feet to the fire we have merely a bunch of negative nabobs of negativity disguised as Republicans.

As a born and raised Louisianan I am deeply ashamed of Gov. Jindal who merely wants to be President not a public servant. Folks just need to grow up!

Posted by: bwaatrnwg | February 25, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Breaking News:

Dan Froomkin hates George Bush.

Posted by: bobmoses | February 25, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

"Obama went into last night's address with enormous popular support."

Well, actually Obama's approval rating is less than 60% and less than Bush's a month into office. If Froomkin was a journalist instead of a partisan hack, he would acknowledge this.

Posted by: bobmoses | February 25, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Nice man-crush, Dan. We "get it." Democrats = good, smart. Republicans = evil, stupid. Such insight. Such drivel is commonplace in your missives. The fact is that you are incapable of being objective, or at least you have never shown the ability to be objective. Yet another reason why newspapers, and those who write for them, are fading into irrelevance. Enjoy preaching to your choir.

Posted by: Buzz5 | February 25, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Dan, remove your knee pads and wipe your chin. While the sheeple manage to keep Obama's approval about average for this time in his presidency, the real news--not discussed here because it wouldn't support the agenda--is that Obama's disapproval ratings are at record levels. It seems that his failure to lead Pelosi and friends is beginning to alienate the centrists who put him over the top.

Oh, and Dan, can we just quit with the "black" thing. He's the post-racial president, remember? His mother was white! And the "radiant black woman" you speak of looked like an absolute buffoon in a sleeveless, knee-length dress in February.

Posted by: but_seriously | February 25, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I see the haters are out in force. Can't discuss a presidential speech on the issues? Attack his wife. Typical.

Each one of you that posts about Mrs. Obama, or denigrates someone's age, or refers time and time again to the worn out "kool aid" simply reinforces the reputation of Republicans; childish, petulant, and ignorant.

President Obama's speech was brilliant. It will go down in history as one of the great Presidential speeches. It was the right speech at the right time and he delivered it with passion.

Some of you note that it's all just words. Well duh. It's a speech. They call it a speech because it's spoken. If it was action they would call it an activity.

Give the President more than five weeks before you start busting a gut. You have eight years to go, don't want to have blow all your arteries in the first two months now do you?

Posted by: arancia12 | February 25, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

The president exudes the greatest form of nobility: the nobility of the common man, ever appreciative of the talent he was blessed with, ever grateful to be living in a society where he could develop his talent and put it to constructive use, and ever mindful of the circumstances and conditions that block others of all races and backgrounds from developing their own talents and potential to the fullest extent possible.

That being said, I must offer a few comments that are less than positive:

First, I found the president's speech to be too much a reiteration of his past speeches, both as a candidate and as president, with too much emphasis on principles and a lack of detail.

Second, there is a contradiction that must be explained to me, and perhaps to millions of others, in that we are castigated for having lived above our means, for having made irresponsible financial decisions, based in large part on easy credit, and at the same time we are hammered with the concept that the nation's economy is built on credit and won't recover until credit is less tight, i.e., easier.

If there isn't a contradiction here, a better explanation is necessary.

I do sense a message, however, which is conveyed by the president's insistence on going forward on his plans regarding education, health care, etc. The message is that Mr. Obama is not here to put Humpty Dumpty back together and let things go on as before, to merely restore a business and governmental culture that continues America's spiral of decline, softened and camouflaged by bubbles of prosperity (dotcom, housing) that pop or deflate, with devastating results.

The nation needs Mr. Obama to succeed, not just satisfy us with the image of success. I wish him the best.

Posted by: bfieldk | February 25, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse


Nice to see you are still working, although probably not long. The compost and most of the other liberal old media are toast. There might be a job opening at MSNBC, though most likely that's toast as well. As far as the speech, doesn't Obie do a great con job ....

Posted by: steve4 | February 25, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Hi Dan-
Nice analysis of the speech. I especially liked when he said that dropping out of high school isn't even an option--it would be quitting on the country.

The Air Florida crash happened in January 1981, not 1982. Reagan invited Lenny Skutnik to the State of the Union a couple of weeks later.

Posted by: jwelchwitt | February 25, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

At last a President that can literally and figuratively address the problems the country finds itself in.

Republicans beware, if you continue to be horses arses, the people will hold you accountable and you will be further marginalized. Obama has a real vision for this country, the whole country, not just country club.

Posted by: hadenuff1 | February 25, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Pwaa studied HISTORY?

If this comment board were a novel, I would have to put it down at this point.
Suspension of disbelief can only stretch so far.

There is no Bush apologist on this comment board today that I can see who a sense of history. Had such MENSA members any sense of history, they'd know that Dubya is Herbert Hoover. But without the lifelong charitable contributions and philanthropy.

A reader of history also would know that in a deficit situation, a tax cut is not truly a cut; it is only tax deferred.

But hey. Rant on, professor.

Posted by: crix | February 25, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Excellent post, Dan. I'm remembering that flap a few years ago when the news staff complained so much about you, and so many of us came forward to support you. A column like this makes them look like pompous fools. If this isn't real reporting, I don't know what is.

Well said, young man!

Posted by: sherirogers | February 25, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Someone posted:
"Couldn't you just save some time and write "Obama is awesome; Bush sucked" for every entry?"

No, he can't. The job of a columnist is to point out the subtleties we might not otherwise notice.

"Obama is awesome; Bush sucked" is already obvious to everyone in the world.

-- faye kane, homeless brain
See more of my smartmouth opinions at

Posted by: FayeKane_HomelessSmartypants | February 25, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

President Obama was a commanding presence, full of ideas, clearly conveyed. he told us what he was going to do, why it needed done, and how he is going to do it. He is dead on right. Since the days of reagan the nation has ignored anything difficult, with the exception of Clinton draggin republicons along a little way, albiet kicking and screaming. bush erased the benefits of the Clinton era in about a month, and within a year had turned a record surplus right back in to reagan like deficits.

jindal was worse than a joke. Do republicons see a brown person and automatically think they can win over minority support? jodal was condescending, inarticulate, creepy at times, and his message - really, tax cuts will work this time was disgraceful. His trying to pretend that because bush gutted FEMA that it was proof that government can't work. He is also showboating "rejecting" less than 3% of the stimulus money headed to Loiusianna, omitting the fact that because Loiusianna has gotten so incredibly much federal money - 3rd largest amount of any state in the nation - already that he has the leeway to pull a stunt like that. Especially if it just keeps a few poor people from eating. Who cares about poor people in the gop anyway?

President Obama is the once in a lifetime leader that tends to emerge in the face of real adversity. Our real tragedy on 9/11 is that we had a nincompoop in office who people sort of voted for (not as many as his opponenet, but we all know bush cheated to becaome president) based on the notion that since things were so good following the Clinton era that it didn't really matter all that much.

Posted by: John1263 | February 25, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Face it. Froomkin is a retard, wait that is an insult to the mentally handicapped.
Insights? Froomie is a lightweight of epic proportions. His idea of a deep thought is "Bush bad, dems good..."
Obama has created a 2 trillion dollar deficit. Poof! There it is.
He didnt inherit it. He and his fellow Dems gleefully passed every recent budget:
2007, 2008, now this mess.
The next few years will be a disaster of epic proportions! And it's been years in the making.......

Posted by: merley1 | February 25, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

rpeublicons can't seem to seperate the fact that pointing out bush's many many many failings is not derangment, snide, snarky, or any of the other terms they love to throw around. bush has left our great nation a flaming wreck. The treasury is empty, the bureacracy is badly damaged, our environment has been raped, our reputation is tarnished, we fought and continue to fight a war based on what everyone on earth now knows from documented evidence was lies, he even dragged the United States down to the level of communist North korea by making torture and illegal detention and kangaroo courts national policy. It is not derangement to state facts. bush was rated 36th among presidents. He got such a high rating because the three criteria they used - he ranked 40th and 41st on economic and national security, inculded the bogus criteria of "promtin equal rights" which was not something any presdient in the 19th century would have considered their duty. So bush scoring 24th there pulled out of a digging match with buchanan for the basement.

President Obama is a once in a generation, once in a lifetime phenomenon. republicons hate him exactly because of that. They know he represents the end of the road for their ideology, and he represents their being in the political wilderness for decades. Just like when FDR took office in 1933 following a disasterous string of years of republicon leadership.

Posted by: John1263 | February 25, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

It was wonderful to have a president that can speak instead of mumbling bumbling poor reader trying to read a speech as Bush would try to do.

Joe Biden is an honorable statesmen and one that has some good accomplishment so its good to see him sitting there.

I do wish this president the best and he is trying hard. If the republicans cannot be of interest to be a help then shut up and sit down. Enough is enough! They let their own leader and president run amuck for 8 years and put this country in a mess it may never recoup from.

But I do look forward to seeing more of this president and family. I feel like the country has a real intact good family at the helm and we just got rid of a dysfunctional president that made the entire country dysfunctional.

Posted by: mac7 | February 26, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Medea's hatred of Jason and Clytemnestra's hatred of Agamemnon pale in comparison with Mr. Froomkin's hatred of George W. Bush. Mr. Froomkin and all you Obama-loving bloggers, explain the following: Dawn Johnsen as head of Treasury's Office of Legal Council; "I don't sweat;" "We won;" and all Obama's cabinet picks that uncovered brazen crooks. Your repeated and tiring insults directed to Bush are vile and illustrate a simple mind short of ideas, originality and decency. Froomkin's hatred is on a par with Obama's arrogance. Your hatred of Bush and your child-like adulation of a corrupt Obama are pathetic as well as pathological,

Posted by: david-mckenzie | February 26, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

I didn't like the new format at all, but I'm beginning to realize it does have this good feature: all the Johnny One-notes tend to gravitate to one of the threads and leave the rest more pleasant.

I read this blog because it makes a nice precis of editorial opinion from elsewhere, and editorials can be a great way to find out about things. I think it's a high complement to the quality of Dan's work as a journalist that there are so many lost souls who return here again and again like moths to the flame, whining about his politics.

The poster ragging on the first lady's frock: that is definitely the sound of a wing-nut's head exploding. McCain/Palin fan, no doubt. Music to my ears. Don't burn out, fella. You've got most of two terms left to go.

Posted by: fzdybel | February 26, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

david-mckenzie , you analogies seem poorly formed, but it's been a few decades since I read my Greek tragedies. Perhaps you watched Oliver Stone's movie?

Bush, unlike Agamemnon, did not go off to war for a long absence, abandoning Froomkin (Clytemnestra). To the contrary, Bush stayed home and sent others to do his battles with the enemy.

Froomkin did not exhibit jealousy of Bush's cavorting with a lover, a jealousy that resulted in Clytemnestra killing both Agamemnon and his concubine.

Froomkin exhibits no hatred or a lovers jealousy, he starts with facts and demonstrates linkages, then draws conclusions. His writing is dispassionate and devoid of emotion, unlike Clytemnestra.

Head back to class and improve your critical writing skills.

Posted by: boscobobb | February 26, 2009 2:40 AM | Report abuse

Dan, as to your question and comment in Wednesday's "Q&A column" regarding the Republican view of government as the problem...

- I'm an entrepreneur and without question a capitalist. Yet it's painfully obvious that capitalism alone cannot pull us out of this massive financial mess without crushing and perhaps revolutionary problems lasting a generation. I'll say it again, anyone who thinks otherwise can't do math. There literally isn't enough global liquidity and appetite for risk to place bets.

- The Bush years raise the question of what is the Republican's definition of government.

The last 8 years demonstrate the lack of government for the common good. Reasonable regulation is a good thing, even for us inventors and capitalists. The SEC was euthanized in January 2001. The FTC, FCC, FDA, EPA, FEMA soon followed. The FAA survived, but has been contracted out to Lockheed (a terrible, act).

I compare good regulation to gravity. I don't like them, but I can engineer around them, or use them to my advantage in novel ways - hey, I'm an inventor! Regulations are important for leveling the playing field. As an inventor, the patent office protects me as much as IBM (well, they used to before Bush gutted them and gave priority to big company ideas).

A major problem with government during the last 8 years was that even my startups were advised to hire DC lobbyists to game the system for a price. Here in Silicon Valley, that's anathema to our culture. But within 15 minutes of my first call to a friend, we were given the name of Jack Abramoff's firm, Greenberg Traurig, and told if we could pay mid 6 figures we too could score a $49 million contract. I can look into my call logs in October 2001 and give you the time of the call. Suffice to say, such behavior made me sick and we never did so. We've also turned down "introductions" through uniformed military revolving door types with multiple stars. Again, behavior that Harry Truman would have pilloried as war profiteering.

- Finally, Republicans seem to have collective amnesia about the $5 TRILLION in deficits they added to the federal debt in the 8 Bush years. I'd like somebody to explain how that represents their principles.
Also, thanks for the permanent link to your daily blog
I no longer have to search WaPo for" Froomkin." I'm still not sanguine about new format, but I can appreciate your desire to get stories out while news. Being on the west coast, everything I see is old anyway.

Posted by: boscobobb | February 26, 2009 3:30 AM | Report abuse

Obama is a great orator. However there is something he has yet to learn. Occasionally, whether reading from a teleprompter or notes, he needs to look at the camera. This is where his audience is, and how you get a point across.

He also needs to change either his speech writers or advisers. Every time he talks, the stock market drops. I think there is a message there.

Posted by: EZ2C | February 26, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

I was quite impressed with Obama's speech - I only wish that the Republicans had it in their hearts to care as much about the American people as Obama seems to. With the Republicans, again it's about power and not the people who, coincidentally, made it possible for them to have their job.

I listened to Jindle's(sp?) speech and laughed so hard I could barely contain myself. He spoke to the American people as if we were a bunch of five year olds. If this is the best the Republicans can do, they need to go back to the drawing board.

As for me, I am ashamed to admit that Eric Cantor is from Va. What a waste of space this man is. He can't see the current problems of the country for the star that he is trying so hard to reach for.

The Republicans just can't seem to get it through their heads that the current problems will not be solved with their reaching for power. This country needs help and it seems to me that the Republicans would want to help since it was them that managed to get us where we are today.

Posted by: dbuccini | February 26, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't you just save some time and write "Obama is awesome; Bush sucked" for every entry?

Posted by: wapo9 | February 25, 2009 3:28 PM


Obmam is awesome.

Bush did suck. A lot.

End of story. So glad you agree.

Posted by: dennissuper | February 26, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't you just save some time and write "Obama is awesome; Bush sucked" for every entry?

Posted by: wapo9 | February 25, 2009 3:28 PM


Obmam is awesome.

Bush did suck. A lot.

End of story. So glad you agree.

Oops. Spelled Obama's name wrong.

And Bush still sucks. A lot.

Posted by: dennissuper | February 26, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Froomkin writes: "This time, the rich will be subsidizing the poor, not the other way around."

Don't upper income folks pay the vast majority of income taxes in the country? Don't the poorest workers pay none, but instead receive the Earned Income Tax Credit? Aren't those the facts of the existing Pre-Obama income tax structure?

Posted by: mftill | February 26, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

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