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RUSH: I mentioned earlier in the program today, Juan Williams, who is at the Fox News Channel and has a terrific piece in the Wall Street Journal today. The headline and the subheadline of the piece are this: ‘Judge Obama on Performance Alone — Let’s Not Celebrate More Ordinary Speeches.’ He, too, was one who thought that yesterday’s speech was somewhat ordinary. There are a lot of people who have that view. Others have a completely different view, of course, but it was unremarkable in a number of ways. But I want to read you a portion of Mr. Williams’ column here. He’s black — and that, of course, in our culture will give him a little bit more credibility than say if he were white writing this. About, oh, 25% of the way through, he asks this question:

‘But now that this moment has arrived,’ Obama’s inauguration, ‘there is a question: How shall we judge our new leader? If his presidency is to represent the full power of the idea that black Americans are just like everyone else — fully human and fully capable of intellect, courage and patriotism — then Barack Obama has to be subject to the same rough and tumble of political criticism experienced by [other presidents]. To treat the first black president as if he is a fragile flower is certain to hobble him. It is also to waste a tremendous opportunity for improving race relations by doing away with stereotypes and seeing the potential in all Americans. Yet there is fear, especially among black people, that criticism of him or any of his failures might be twisted into evidence that people of color cannot effectively lead. That amounts to wasting time and energy reacting to hateful stereotypes.

‘It also leads to treating all criticism of Mr. Obama, whether legitimate, wrong-headed or even mean-spirited, as racist. This is patronizing,’ he says. ‘Worse, it carries an implicit presumption of inferiority.’ I want to stop there, because I don’t know that Mr. Williams knows how profound what he wrote is. To not criticize Obama as a president — forget that he’s black, forget that he’s a man — to not criticize him because he’s black is ‘patronizing’ and ‘it carries an implicit presumption of inferiority.’ I’m telling you, that is profound. Because I maintain to you — and I’ve said this on several prior occasions in the 20-year history of this program — that the Democrat Party and the American left indeed view African-Americans as inferior, incapable of success without the help of the Democrat Party, without the help of government programs like quotas and affirmative action.

Now, in truth liberals look at all people with contempt. They look at all average Americans with contempt, think that they’re stupid and incapable of handling the rigors of life on their own. But with African-Americans it’s even more pervasive. They feel sorry for them. The American left feels sorry, be it because of the original sin of slavery or what have you. The real racists in this society are our friends in the Democrat Party and on the left, and now we’ve gotten to the point here where Obama is too big to fail. He’s too big to fail. Why? ‘Cause he’s too historic. Why? What’s historic about it? The color of his skin. That’s the typical way liberals look at people, the typical way the way the Drive-By Media looks at people: skin color. Yes, and ‘we’ve been so mean to these people in the past that we can’t be critical now.’ You see it, folks. You see it in the hero worship, the idolatry of the media.

It’s sickening and dangerous as well, and Juan Williams understands it. Let me pick up where he left off. ‘[I]t carries an implicit presumption of inferiority’ to not criticize Obama. ‘Every American president must be held to the highest standard. No president of any color should be given a free pass for screw-ups, lies or failure to keep a promise. During the Democrats’ primaries and caucuses, candidate Obama often got affectionate if not fawning treatment from the American media. Editors, news anchors, columnists and commentators, both white and black but especially those on the political left, too often acted as if they were in a hurry to claim their role in history as supporters of the first black president.’

In the words of Reverend Joseph Lowery, ‘Say amen!’ Amen! ‘Say amen!’ Amen! He is exactly right. They, the Drive-By Media, considered their role in this to be historic. They wanted to be the ones to put him over the top. They wanted to be central players and figures in this moment of history. ‘For example, Mr. Obama was forced to give a speech on race as a result of revelations that he’d long attended a church led by a demagogue. It was an ordinary speech. At best it was successful at minimizing a political problem. Yet some in the media equated it to the Gettysburg Address. The importance of a proud, adversarial press speaking truth about a powerful politician and offering impartial accounts of his actions was frequently and embarrassingly lost. When Mr. Obama’s opponents, such as the Clintons, challenged his lack of experience, or pointed out that he was not in the US Senate when he expressed early opposition to the war in Iraq, they were depicted as petty,’ the Clintons were.

‘Bill Clinton got hit hard when he called Mr. Obama’s claims to be a long-standing opponent of the Iraq war ‘the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.’ The former president accurately said that there was no difference in actual Senate votes on the war between his wife and Mr. Obama. But his comments were not treated by the press as legitimate, hard-ball political fighting. They were cast as possibly racist.’ This is what caused Clinton to say they played the race card on him. ‘This led to Saturday Night Live’s mocking skit — where the debate moderator was busy hammering the other Democratic nominees with tough questions while inquiring if Mr. Obama was comfortable and needed more water. When fellow Democrats contending for the nomination rightly pointed to Mr. Obama’s thin proposals for dealing with terrorism and extricating the US from Iraq, they were drowned out by loud if often vacuous shouts for change.

‘Yet in the general election campaign and during the transition period, Mr. Obama steadily moved to his former opponents’ positions. In fact, he approached Bush-Cheney stands on immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperate in warrantless surveillance. There is a dangerous trap being set here,’ writes Juan Williams. ‘The same media people invested in boosting a black man to the White House as a matter of history have set very high expectations for him. When he disappoints, as presidents and other human beings inevitably do, the backlash may be extreme.’ This is where I differ. I don’t think there will be a ‘backlash’ in the media. He’s too big to fail, Mr. Williams. They’ve set it up this way because of their historic role in his historic election. And then Juan Williams writes this. Mr. Snerdley, listen to this.

‘Several seasons ago, when Philadelphia Eagle’s black quarterback Donovan McNabb was struggling, radio commentator Rush Limbaugh said the media wanted a black quarterback to do well and gave Mr. McNabb ‘a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve.’ Mr. Limbaugh’s sin was saying out loud what others had said privately. There is a lot more at stake now, and to allow criticism of Mr. Obama only behind closed doors does no honor to the dreams and prayers of generations past: that race be put aside, and all people be judged honestly, openly, and on the basis of their performance,’ which is what Dr. King wanted. Juan Williams fears we’ll not get that with Obama. We won’t get a judgment based on honesty, openness, and the basis of his performance, but rather, that his criticism will only be behind closed doors. The Brokaws of the world might criticize him, but they’ll never do so publicly because he’s black. ‘President Obama deserves no less’ than the standard of other presidents in treatment by the press, writes Juan Williams. That’s in the Wall Street Journal. Actually, it ran yesterday. Well, it’s in today’s paper. It was posted 11:30 last night. Juan Williams, contributor, commentator at the Fox News Channel.

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