President-elect Joe Biden came out with his first Cabinet picks before Thanksgiving, and the media were falling all over themselves with compliments. Oh, they are all so thoroughly professional, deeply experienced and manifestly competent. The media even tried to suggest with a straight face that this warmed-over pile of Obama administration appointees is “not going to be political.”
How ridiculous. Elected people — and their appointees — have to be political.
At least they’re not demanding Joe Biden be inaugurated early. In 2008, they were so deeply enchanted with then-President-elect Barack Obama that they wanted to slash the transition period in half and get those wonderful Democrats back in power. Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, wrote in his Nov. 14, 2008 column: “We should move the President’s inauguration up to the first Tuesday in December, one month after the election. … People who elect a new president are eager for the change to take place. The sooner the better.”
New York Times columnist Gail Collins wanted then-President George W. Bush to do the patriotic thing … and quit. “Thanksgiving is this week, and President Bush could make it a really special holiday by resigning,” she wrote. “Seriously. … just to be on the safe side, the Vice President ought to turn in his resignation first. (We’re desperate, but not crazy.) Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would become president until Jan. 20. Obviously, she’d defer to her party’s incoming chief executive, and Obama could begin governing.”
Her Times colleague Thomas Friedman had to get in on the fun, writing: “If I had my druthers right now we would convene a special session of Congress, amend the Constitution and move up the inauguration from Jan. 20 to Thanksgiving Day. … Just get me a Supreme Court justice and a Bible, and let’s swear in Barack Obama right now — by choice — with the same haste we did — by necessity — with L.B.J. in the back of Air Force One.”
To be blunt, he was implying Bush had suddenly become as useless as an assassinated president.
After all this brouhaha, PBS “Washington Week” host and Obama superfan Gwen Ifill declared on Dec. 5, 2008, that a generic group of “people” wanted Obama sworn in pronto: “Maybe what people are beginning to say is that this president-elect should be president now?” New York Times reporter Peter Baker repeated after her, responding: “That’s right. Exactly. People voted for change, and this strange, odd 77-day waiting period that we impose, in effect, between our election and our inauguration … it’s such a long period …”
Disgraced former CBS anchorman Dan Rather refused to be outdone in throwing dirt on George W. Bush. On “Morning Joe” that same day, Rather argued: “We can’t afford to waste an hour, much less a day or a week or a month. And this business of being a lame-duck president and saying, you know, ‘Adios. I’m going to the ranch. I’m just not going to do very much during this period.’ We can’t afford it. … (W)e’re in possibly, possibly the biggest crisis we’ve been in since Dec. 7, 1941, and maybe since the time of the Civil War. So we can’t afford to have this interregnum.”
Remember, these are some of the same badly disguised Democrats who would later lecture us for four years about the importance of “democratic norms.” The only norm they seem to revere is having Democrats in power.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.