President-elect Barack Obama is truly the man to "change the tone in Washington," something at which outgoing President George W. Bush failed miserably.
That's the tacit argument one could infer from Washington Post staffer Lori Aratani's January 14 Metro section front-pager, "At Rallies, Giving 'Please' a Chance: Activists Weigh How to Push Message While Abandoning Adversarial Tacks." Aratani profiled both left and right-wing activists who plan to demonstrate during the inauguration, but have a decidedly respectful tack to criticizing the incoming Obama administration.
Aratani began her Metro section front-pager finding that left-wing organizers known for over-the-top histrionics and disrupting congressional hearings face "a new problem: how to make demands without appearing adversarial" (emphasis mine):
"We don't want to be seen as protesting against [Obama] so much as pushing him to fulfill his promises," said Medea Benjamin, founder of Code Pink. "It's totally, totally different."
"In years past, we organized and organized and didn't see any direct result because we were up against an administration that wasn't listening," Rodriguez said. "Now, we know there's an opportunity for change to happen."
But it's not just left-wing radicals who are swept up in the new Obama era, Aratani argues, turning to pro-life activists who will have a decidedly muted approach to the incoming NARAL-endorsed President Obama:
Even those who disagree with the president-elect's stands on such issues as abortion say they are planning "educational gatherings," not disruptive demonstrations. That's not to say there won't be any angry words come Inauguration Day, but it appears that Obama isn't the only one who wants to set a new tone in Washington.
Among the groups that disagree with Obama's politics there was debate as to whether it was appropriate to protest on what many consider a historic day.
"For us, it was really a difficult thing to even [decide] to demonstrate," said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, which has had a presence at the past three inaugurations. "We don't want to detract from the enormity of the celebration of the nation's first African American president. We do respect that. So that's why we've chosen more of a display than a demonstration. We won't have signs chiding President Obama or saying negative things."