Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He has written for the Register for more than 20 years and was its executive editor for 10. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children.
“Here are seven things the White House wants reporters to write” about Obama’s first 100 days, says Politico. Let’s assess them.
1. “Obama is a promise-keeper.”
The fear: Obama is trying to do too much, too fast. The White House spin: 100 days stories should remind people that Obama promised a lot.
Fair enough. He has certainly kept his promise to be extreme on abortion.
But he’s no “promise-keeper” in the principled, “I mean what I say” way that phrase is normally meant. A lot of his positions carry a wink and a nod with them. He claims to be opposed to redefining marriage, for instance, while tacitly encouraging it, and he claims to want to reduce abortions even as he does all he can to pay for them with federal money.
He’s a guy who said expansive fuzzy things on the campaign trail. That does not a promise-keeper make.
Which brings us to the second spin in the article by Jim Vandehei and John F. Harris:
2. “Obama is a game-changer.”
With the first 100 days, the White House hopes to help the public finally grasp “Obama’s view that his ideas fit together in a coherent strategy to force massive change in government, the financial sector and, ultimately, people’s lives.”
That sounds frankly scary. But is it true? Is Obama a game-changer?
There’s no doubt that he could be. But he might turn out to be an over-reacher. It remains true that Pride Cometh Before a Fall. We shall see what kind of fall follows pride this time.
3. “Obama is the decider.”
The White House wants 100-days stories to include the information that Obama is sharp and in charge at White House meetings.
Is Obama the decider? They told us he wasn’t when it came to AIG bonuses … and we seem to recall that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid crafted the stimulus package. And Fred Barnes has pointed out that he’s an awfully indecisive decider ...
4. “Obama’s not in the bubble.”
The White House will try to make Obama look in touch with the world outside the White House.
“Look for more stories about how the president reads 10 letters from ordinary Americans every day, often responds in his own hand and sometimes calls Cabinet secretaries to share the insights he learns.”
Not to mention endless stories about his Blackberry.
But is he in touch with people?
Ask people at the tax-day tea parties. Is he in touch with them?
In fact, the letters showcased by the New York Times suggest Obama’s 10 daily letters are reinforcing his bubble. One is about how Obama’s a great dad and smoking is dangerous, and makes the smoker look serious about not smoking. The other two letters are like Obama boilerplate in support of his perrennial themes. Showing him those letters won’t expose him to new ideas, but will only make him more comfortable with his.
5. “Obama is not FDR.”
The Politico says the White House will lower expectations while …
6. “Obama is FDR.”
… planting the seeds that allow others to raise them.
So, which is it?
On this one, we’re certain. History will be ashamed of Obama, if he continues his relentless pro-abortion march. We now know, better than ever before, the humanity of the unborn and the pain abortion causes women.
People who are on the wrong side of the right to life today will be seen as unfeeling in years to come; years not as far off as we imagine.
“How did they see ultrasounds and justify it?” our grandchildren will ask. Then they’ll add, suspiciously, “Did you ever vote for people who supported abortion, Grandpa?” Those who voted correctly will be proud of it. Those who voted wrong will lie.
7. “Obama is one cool cucumber.”
“The White House loves the image of a calmly competent president who never loses his head — or his temper — under the pressure of the once-in-a-lifetime recession and two wars.”
Well, he is a phlegmatic guy, to be sure. And nicotine helps, as it did FDR. But so far, he has been one cool cucumber only in meetings with his political allies, or in showcases overseas.
We seem to remember that in his one significant meeting with Republicans, the prophet of bipartisanship accused them of being led by Rush Limbaugh and answered their request for a seat at the table with the argument, “I won.”
What kind of President will Obama be remembered as? We once suggested four ways he might be remembered ...