The big plus on President Bush's resume is that the USA has not been attacked again by Muslim terrorists. That is Mr. Bush's signature achievement.
But today there is no question that President-elect Obama is going to dismantle much of the security apparatus put in place by his predecessor. Obama's selection of Leon Panetta as CIA chief sends a clear message that things will be different inside the nation's primary national security operation, and the president-elect is upfront about it:
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BARACK OBAMA: I think what you're also going to see is a team that is committed to breaking with some of the past practices and concerns that have, I think, tarnished the image of the agencies, the intelligence agencies, as well as U.S. foreign policy.
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Now, that's the key issue here. Barack Obama clearly buys into the theory that the tough measures taken by the Bush administration have harmed America's image throughout the world, and that is likely true.
Obviously, the Bush-Cheney strategy to protect Americans did not include caring very much what Spain thought or what the Muslim world wanted. Again, that is a tough point of view, but one that succeeded in blunting further terror attacks here in the USA.
Remember: Countries like Indonesia, Spain and Jordan weren't nearly as aggressive towards terrorists as we have been, but those countries were subjected to brutal attacks by terror-killers just the same.
In assessing the rollback of harsh anti-terror methods, the liberal media is mostly delighted. But there are dissenters. The liberal Houston Chronicle editorialized: "Love him or loathe him, Bush made protecting the country from terrorism a priority. That responsibility soon will fall on Barack Obama's shoulders. Americans will expect no less vigilance from the Obama administration, which brings us to the president-elect's puzzling choice of Leon Panetta as director of the Central Intelligence Agency."
The paper goes on to question Panetta's credentials.
The danger here is not just physical. If America is attacked after Barack Obama changes the anti-terror strategy, there is a good chance that his administration will be damaged beyond repair. Thus the strategy being put in play is a huge gamble on Obama's part.
"Talking Points" is perplexed by this. So far, Obama's economic vision has been good. He seems to understand what needs to be done to restore confidence in the American system. But on national security, I'm not getting it. I don't want The New York Times or NBC News calling ideological shots when terror-killers want to murder us. I also want to make the terrorists as uncomfortable as possible, something Barack Obama is not going to do.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
President-elect Obama met with all the living presidents Wednesday at the White House. Everybody seemed very happy. Look at them. They're yukking it up. Well, Jimmy, you know, he doesn't know where he is. I can't use the word "gay" anymore. They were happy, and they all seemed to get along fine. President Bush the younger set the tone about Obama's new job.
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GEORGE W. BUSH: One message that I have, and I think we all share, is that we want you to succeed. Whether we're a Democrat or a Republican, we care deeply about this country.
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Well, on that patriotic note, our BillOReilly.com polls asks: Are you rooting for Barack Obama to succeed: yes or no? We know what President Bush would answer. We'll give you the results of the poll on Friday.
On the pinhead front, a skier ran into a bit of trouble in Colorado. He got tangled up on a lift and wound up hanging upside-down half naked.
Now, the guy says he was sober. He was rescued after several minutes, and we'll not even contemplate the frostbite jokes here.
A photographer captured the guy's embarrassment and then distributed the pictures, making the photographer a pinhead. Sometimes you just don't want to embarrass people.
— You can catch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Pinheads & Patriots" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel and any time on foxnews.com/oreilly. Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org