Both President-elect Obama and President Bush enjoy working out. Photo credits: Weekly Standard
At last! Someone besides me has noticed the similarities between Barack Obama and George W. Bush. In earlier posts, though, I mainly compared the hubris of the inexperienced Obama’s characterization of himself as the potential savior of Washington to Dubya’s “I am Jesus” campaign promises to rid the entire world of corruption.
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank has noticed a similarity between the post-election behavior patterns of the incoming and outgoing presidents. Milbank begins his Washington Sketch post this morning:
“A month from now, the nation will say farewell to its sports-obsessed president who doesn't like tough questions. And it will replace him with, well, another sports-obsessed president who doesn't like tough questions.
‘“I did not select Arne because he's one of the best basketball players I know,’ President-elect Barack Obama said yesterday, introducing Education Secretary-designate Arne Duncan. ‘Although I will say that I think we are putting together the best basketball-playing Cabinet in American history, and I think that is worth noting.’”
“The nominee, one of the half a dozen accomplished basketball players suiting up for Obama's inner circle, made reference to his time as a professional hoopster in Australia.”
But damn those pesky reporters like John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune who wasn’t about to be drawn into “let’s all be pals and talk sports” chitchat with the president-elect and instead insisted on asking a probing question about Rahm Emanuel’s conversations with the luckless Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Milbank reports that in perfect Dubya style, Obama successfully dodged the questions despite repeated attempts by McCormick to get him to deal with the issue.
‘“John, John, let me just cut you off,’ Obama interrupted, ‘because I don't want you to waste your question.’ The president-elect said the ‘facts are going to be released next week’ -- when he, by random coincidence, will be enjoying Christmas vacation in Hawaii -- and ‘it would be inappropriate for me to comment" before then. ‘So, do you have another question?”’
‘“There's no denying Obama's team has an impressive starting five: Duncan (6-foot-5), incoming national security adviser James Jones and body man Reggie Love (both 6-foot-4) all played college basketball, while Attorney General-designate Eric Holder and U.N. Ambassador-designate Susan Rice played high school ball. But Obama's response to Blagojevich questions has been decidedly junior varsity. Begging off because of an ongoing investigation? Hiding behind Patrick Fitzgerald's skirt? Warning a reporter not to ‘waste’ a question and asking for an alternative question? All four techniques were popularized by Bush.
“‘We're in the midst of an ongoing investigation, and I will be more than happy to comment further once the investigation is completed’ was President Bush's version.
“‘I would ask for your patience, because I do not want to interfere with an ongoing investigation’ is Obama's.
‘“McCormick's exchange in Chicago yesterday brought to mind Bush's tangle with David Gregory last year when the NBC newsman asked about an Israeli raid in Syria. ‘I'm not going to comment on the matter,’ Bush said. ‘You're welcome to ask another question, if you'd like to, on a different subject,’ the president added.”’
‘“The whole thing might have ended in snores if McCormick hadn't piped up about Blagojevich. After upbraiding the reporter for his first two attempts at a question, Obama dispatched McCormick's third try -- whether there should be a special election to fill Obama's Senate seat -- with a no-comment. ‘I'm going to let the state legislature make a determination,’ he said.
‘“McCormick tried something more to the president-elect's liking. ‘Do you or Duncan have a better jump shot?’ he inquired.
‘“Duncan -- much better,’ Obama replied readily. ‘That one's an easy one.”’
It seems that President-elect Obama can easily dodge tough questions as adroitly as Dubya; hopefully, he’ll never have to dodge flying shoes as our athletically gifted president was forced to do in Baghdad the other day.