As we prepare for the first post-election meeting between President Bush and President-Elect Obama as part of the transition phase – which takes place at 2 pm this afternoon, Fox News has taken a look back at Obama’s account of the first meeting between the two, at a breakfast meeting with newly-elected Senators in January 2005. From Obama’s book Audacity of Hope (via Crittenden):
President Bush and President-elect Barack Obama are probably hoping their meeting Monday goes better than their first get-together, which left a bad taste in the mouths of both men.
Four years ago, Obama and other newly elected members of the Senate were invited to the White House for a breakfast meeting with Bush, who pulled the young Chicagoan aside.
“Obama!” Bush exclaimed, according to Obama’s account of the meeting in his second memoir, “The Audacity of Hope.” “Come here and meet Laura. Laura, you remember Obama. We saw him on TV during election night. Beautiful family. And that wife of yours — that’s one impressive lady.”
The two men shook hands and then, according to Obama, Bush turned to an aide, “who squirted a big dollop of hand sanitizer in the president’s hand.”
Bush then offered some to Obama, who recalled: “Not wanting to seem unhygienic, I took a squirt.”
The president then led Obama off to one side of the room, where Bush said: “I hope you don’t mind me giving you a piece of advice.”
“Not at all, Mr. President,” Obama told the commander-in-chief.
“You’ve got a bright future,” Bush said presciently. “Very bright. But I’ve been in this town awhile and, let me tell you, it can be tough. When you get a lot of attention like you’ve been getting, people start gunnin’ for ya. And it won’t necessarily just be coming from my side, you understand. From yours, too. Everybody’ll be waiting for you to slip, know what I mean? So watch yourself.”
Bush then noted that he and Obama had something in common.
“We both had to debate Alan Keyes,” the president said. “That guy’s a piece of work, isn’t he?”
Obama laughed and even “put my arm around his shoulder as we talked,” he recalled, although he added the gesture “might have made many of my friends, not to mention the Secret Service agents in the room, more than a little uneasy.”
Despite this display of bonhomie, Obama said the president’s demeanor turned downright frightening when he laid out his agenda to the freshly minted lawmakers.
“Suddenly it felt as if somebody in a back room had flipped a switch,” Obama wrote. “The president’s eyes became fixed; his voice took on the agitated, rapid tone of someone neither accustomed to nor welcoming interruption; his easy affability was replaced by an almost messianic certainty. As I watched my mostly Republican Senate colleagues hang on his every word, I was reminded of the dangerous isolation that power can bring, and appreciated the Founders’ wisdom in designating a system to keep power in check.”
Man, if there were ever a case of pot, meet kettle, this is it.
I wonder how he feels about “keeping power in check” now that he’s close to having a supermajority in both houses, both of which are full of Democrats who believe like so many who voted for him that he walks on water? Couple that with the stories (scroll) coming out now about the blatant egoism Obama displayed towards campaign staffers (not to mention the general population) during his run for president, and I’d say you have the perfect mix for seeing in the next four years a president who will pretty much have free reign with respect to policy, with little to no worries as it relates to keeping his power in check.
He may tone it down the first year while more people are paying attention, but after that, when the “newness” of his presidency wears off, I expect to see a more ideologically aggressive Obama on issues domestic and foreign, one who forgets that only 32% of the people who voted on Tuesday identified themselves as “liberal” while 49% described themselves as “conservative” and 16% defined themseleves as “moderate.” That doesn’t sound like the “liberal mandate” some are suggesting he has.