Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kathleen Parker is Hilarious

Kathleen Parker has a reputation for being outrageous, obtuse, and — apparently unintentionally — hilarious. Today she doesn’t disappoint. Here she is reviewing the president’s first press conference.

At his news conference, the overriding impression was of a man not fully in control of his message or his material. Nine minutes into the first answer to the first question, I began missing Bush’s customary dispatch. Bush’s contempt for the media meant he never stayed long enough to bore us.

In other words, she’s not impressed by a president who actually knows what he’s talking about and can explain it in complete sentences that pass muster in basic English. She would prefer a poor man’s version of Don Rickles in the White House with the language skills of Norm Crosby.

She doesn’t want to hear a president apologize; it makes him appear weak.

Why did Obama feel it necessary to apologize for others’ mistakes? If improper vetting was the problem, then say so and correct it. The tax code is absurdly complex, and most people with complicated lives hand over their numbers to accountants and hope for the best.

Admittedly, the problem became comical as one after another Obama appointee turned up with tax debts. Q: How do you get Democrats to pay taxes? A: Appoint them to Cabinet positions.

But Obama’s eager confession — “I screwed up” — hit a hollow note. Doubtless, he was trying to demonstrate “change” by distinguishing himself from Bush, who could never quite put a finger on his mistakes. Rather than seeming Trumanesque in stopping the buck at his desk, Obama seemed more like an abused spouse who starts her day saying, “I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.”

The only people who are bothered by other people who can freely own up to their flaws and mistakes are people who are too insecure in themselves to see that quality as an asset. In the real world, most people find it remarkably reassuring to hear someone admit their mistakes and apologize. It’s the foolish, the weak, and the tyrannical who will never do that, but that’s apparently what Ms. Parker would prefer to have leading the country. What seems to bother her the most is that we actually have a president who isn’t a bullshitting egomaniac.

So far the criticisms of the Obama administration from the right wing have been both petty — the president took off his jacket in the Oval Office — and predictable — he’s a liberal. If this is the quality of dissenting commentary we’re going to get for the next four years, then we have a lot of hilarity to look forward to.