Monday, January 12, 2009

Hold Your Horses

I never set myself up in November to be gravely affected by the little ripples of disappointment I knew would slowly be trickling in from the incoming Obama administration, although I will admit to being swept up by the Change Movement, and believed in it wholeheartedly. I still do, but hold much less of an emotional ethos and much more of an utilitarian if not pseudo-cynical position on it.

Obama is ultimately a politician and he will do all that is necessary to survive and thrive inside the Beltway (not at the least neglecting his legacy), coupled with incremental alterations to national policy that will historically satisfy the mantra of his campaign: Change.

One significant example of backpedaling from the Obama administration is the signalled reluctance to look into Bush policies. In an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC's “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” Obama said he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects. However, he was quick to add that prosecutions would move forward if the Justice Department found evidence that laws had been broken.

For those of us with longer short-term memories, Candidate Obama broadly condemned some counter-terrorism tactics of the Bush administration and its claim that the measures were justified under executive powers.

The Bush administration has authorized interrogation tactics like waterboarding that critics say tap danced outside federal laws and international treaties, and domestic wiretapping without warrants. But the details of those programs have never been made public, and White House officials have steadfastly held that their actions were legal under a president’s wartime powers.

There was no immediate reaction on Obama's decision from Capitol Hill. In resisting pressure for a wider inquiry, he risks the anger of influential Democratic lawmakers on Congressional judiciary and intelligence committees, and core constituencies who hoped his election would cast a spotlight on President Bush’s antiterror efforts.

On other terrorism issues, Obama suggested that his approach will continue to be more measured. He said the closing of the prison at Guant√°namo Bay, Cuba, which once seemed to be an early top objective, was not likely to happen during the first 100 days of his administration.

These are the little ripples of disappointment washing ashore. However, I refuse to be altogether turned into the political curmudgeon that I had become on the heels of the stolen election in 2000. I believe in change, and I believe in government's ability to help us--despite the significant atrocities of the last eight years.

In the 1980s Reagan was successful in brainwashing us into thinking we can be left to our own devices and fend for ourselves. "Government is not the solution to our problem," he said. "Government IS the problem." It was the Sink or Swim attitude of Republicans toward the populace that falsely empowered Americans with the empty label of Rugged Individualism. I do not believe in that. I believe that government has the fact the DUTY to help us solve problems. I believe Change is coming, it's just arriving in little spurts instead of the fantastical Revolution we've been promised. Which is fine; America is still a God-fearing, conservative if not Puritan nation. For all the talk about being flexible and self-sufficient in any and every situation, we must be gently exposed and introduced to change---much like acclimating to a hot bath. Kid gloves are always necessary. Those and a leak-proof body suit.


Jeffinseatown said...

I agree with your subtle disappointment, but appreciate your reluctance to throw your hope out the window. One thing everyone needs to remember is that President Obama (that sounds pretty nice, doesn't it?) is facing a muti-faceted challenge in his first 100 days. He's facing military issues in Iraq and Afghanistan, fiscal issues within the Beltway, and, of course, the economy. Those, in themselves, pose a pretty significant challenge. Add that to the fact that he has to "undo" much of the destruction that "Dubya" has done over the past few years, both domestically and internationally....what a task. I haven't necessarily loved all the political appointment or changes in campaign promises I have seen since November, but I'm willing to give him a good bit of latitude and I think others should as well. These are unprecedented times we are living in and unconventional approaches may lead to a brighter least through my rose-colored glasses.

(S)wine said...

I'm not so happy to see the oul' Clinton contingent back in business. Leon Panetta as Spy Chief? Last time CIA had a helmsman with no experience, his name was George H. W. Bush. He lasted a year and the consensus is: he was a bad chief. To be continued, I suppose.