Wednesday, February 11, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA: WEEK 4

Yesterday was the end of week 3 of the Obama presidency. Why does it seem like he's been there so much longer? Why do I have trouble remembering the previous White House occupant?

I've been patiently watching and waiting before commenting on the job performance of our new President. I've thought it unfair and disingenuous to criticize Obama during his first few weeks of service; after all, it's a huge job and he's the new-hire, and I doubt that he got that much help from Baby Bush.

But to tell the truth, I've had some trepidations. I knew going in that Obama isn't my ideal, a flaming progressive lefty, but a more middle road moderate Democrat. I do like his style, his coolness under pressure, his ability to talk to the public and make sense, his world views, and I certainly appreciate his willingness to say "I made a mistake." Very refreshing.

Early on, however, some of his appointments raised some little red flags for me. "Hey, wait a minute, these are insiders, Clintonites, old boys...what the...what happened to "change"?" An example is his financial team, with guys like Geithner, Rubin, and Summers; these are people who were involved in, and at least partially responsible for the economic meltdown we are now experiencing. The party line is that Obama is in charge, and these appointees will do what their boss wants, even if it means that they will need to "change." OK, we'll see.

A great disappointment to me was on Monday when Justice Department lawyers perpetuated the Bush tactic of claiming state secrets in an effort to get a case dismissed in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where a three judge panel is considering a case brought by five victims of Bush Administration "extraordinary rendition" - kidnapping and torture. This is seen by many, including me, as a betrayal of trust - an Obama campaign issue was criticism of this very tactic by the Bush Justice Department.

I'm still in a wait and see mode. I'm still very hopeful. I truly celebrated the actions taken by Obama on his first few days in office by which he reversed a number of Bush decisions, set the departure from Iraq in motion, announced the closing of the prison camp at Guantanamo, etc. Hooray! But I'm getting more doubtful by the day regarding the economic recovery strategy. Sec. Geithner's bailout announcement yesterday was a resounding "thud." And don't get me started about the Democrats wienieism on pushing through a stimulus package against a pack of cowardly, mean and bitter old-fart Republicans. Shameful.

So I'll hold my tongue some more - after all, this is only the beginning of week 4 (can you believe it?). In the meantime, I'm thinking more and more that the "change" we all seem to want will only happen if we push for it. So I'm going to make more phone calls, and maybe carve out more time to get more involved in making change a reality.

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