This pretty thoroughly demonstrates the whole range of differences between Obama and Bush, and between Republican tactics and normality. It also shows what I consider good about Barack Obama, and what drives me crazy about him.
Milbank suggests if the situations were reversed, and Democrats were blocking a nuclear arms treaty negotiated by Bush, the Republican president would not only be questioning Dems' motives, but Republicans "would no doubt be running ads juxtaposing Democrats with Osama bin Laden, or alleging, as they did then, that Democrats are giving 'comfort to America's enemies.'...
Not long after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a variety of Democratic lawmakers proposed creating the Department of Homeland Security. George W. Bush, at least initially, balked, fearing a cabinet agency would lead to more oversight.
In time, Bush reversed course, and embraced the idea. But when it came labor laws and the new DHS, the White House and the Democratic Senate majority were on opposite sites. As the dispute intensified, Bush ultimately gave a speech on Sept. 23, 2002, insisting, "The Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people."...
...Eight years later, Dana Milbank reflects on the incident while noting that it's Republicans who are "blocking a Senate vote on a treaty with Russia that is critical to securing loose nukes and keeping Iran from gaining the bomb."
For Democrats, the opposition's gamesmanship with security should present an opportunity. Republicans seem to have entered a post-post-9/11 era, in which national security is no longer a higher priority than their interest in undermining President Obama. There's no need to resort to the demagoguery once used against Democrats, but neither would it hurt the White House and congressional Democrats to point out that their opponents are trying to weaken Americans' security. [...]
...And so we hear a very different tone. Eight years ago, Bush said Democrats don't care if we live or die. Yesterday, President Obama said of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), "I believe that Senator Kyl wants a safe and secure America, just like I do, and is well-motivated." Obama added, "Senator Kyl has never said to me that he does not want to see START ratified. ... What he said is, is that he just felt like there wasn't enough time to get it done in the lame duck. And I take him at his word."
That's a degree of graciousness Kyl almost certainly doesn't deserve, and one Bush never even considered.
(Sorry about the psychedelic font changes.) I wrote about this recently. The behaviors of both sides are astoundingly and diametrically different, with one being blatantly cynical and hypocritical and the other -- the president, anyway -- eschewing the sort of tactics that everyone knows the Rs would be using were it reversed.
It says a lot about President Obama that he retains the FAR higher ground.
I just wish I knew what.