Thursday, November 19, 2009

What next? - Then and Now

Now that Bush and his gang of war profiteers are [mostly] gone, what next?

We have a new president and the majority of Americans people have finally come to their senses, so what comes after the country and much of the world breathe a big sigh of relief?

There is so much to do to repair the damage done by the previous administration we need a triage system to manage this disaster.

I don't expect president Obama to magically wave a wand and fix everything that the Bush gang screwed up. I don't expect that I'll agree with everything he does or does not do. I don't expect him to fulfill all his campaign promises. There are too many undercurrents inside the beltway that are working against Barack Obama for him to accomplish that. He has to choose his engagements carefully, trust himself, and those people whose judgment he's learned to trust over the years and start eating the elephant bite by bite.

And if that wasn't enough of a challenge, the Republicans are admittedly doing nothing but throwing roadblocks in his way and publicly hoping that he fails. For purely political reasons the Republicans are working against fixing the very mess they (for the most part) created, America be damned. The only people they care about are what remains of their base. You know, the ones who evidently have no problem with Rush Limbaugh mocking the uncontrollable movements of a beloved actor, Michael J. Fox, that are caused by Parkinson's disease.. Or the thinly veiled and at times outright racism evidenced by things like the "...Magic Negro" song. The ones who through the wars, the lies, the belligerent dictatorial actions seen and unseen, and the refusal to admit reality still thought George Bush was doing the right thing.

(Original draft date 3/9/09)
- That's from a draft I just discovered.

Now, ten months into the new administration there's good news and bad news.
Some of the good news is obvious. We now have a president who is intelligent and pragmatic, progressive and engaging. A huge change from former president Bush, the ignorant, reckless, belligerent fool and the political Chickenhawks who surrounded him.

President Obama is representing our country well. He is gaining international respect for himself and for our country. He favors diplomacy over the bullying tactics of the Bush administration that turned allies into enemies (remember "You're either with us or against us"?).

He still has to prove himself over time though, and the 'guts' of a country don't automatically change when a new administration takes office. The career employees and the other branches of government are still there for the most part, and the 'legacy' placements of the previous administration can either help grease, or toss sand into the gears of a new administration.

This administration had a monumental task in front of it, and that task was compounded in those early days by a financial crisis whose magnitude had not been seen since the Great Depression.

I truly can't comprehend what kind of fortitude it took to not only withstand the pressures of those early days, but to do so with such confidence and grace. From what I've noticed, a good sense of humor must help, along with self confidence and a group of trusted advisors & friends.

Some of the bad news relates to (and stems from) the divisive culture nurtured during the Bush years. What used to be partisan wrangling has turned into rude combative obstructionism for so many of the Republican party. Add to that a racist element brought out by the election of our first black president and what we're seeing exposed is an incredibly ugly side of some Americans.

If that wasn't bad enough, irresponsible and egotistical glory-seekers like Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck (to name just a few..) are fanning the flames of racism and dissent. An entire cable network, Fox (I won't call it 'News') is engaged in a campaign against the Obama administration. Truth, honesty, or any journalistic principals don't fit into their campaign to take the small group of remaining Bush supporters (and related malcontents) and use them to further their stated goal, that being the failure of president Barack Obama and his goals to fix what Bush and his party broke.

These people have chosen to engage in personal destruction at the expense of our country's health.

Some in the Republican party have compared this to the criticism of president Bush.
How childish and how ignorant!
The same can be said about many of the 'complaints' of the Teabaggers.

The culture of intolerance and hate that's been nurtured over the past eight years has grown to a dangerous level. Irresponsible elected officials like Michelle Bachmann are actually inciting individuals and groups who might just need a slight nudge or implied blessing to move from talk to action.

As I predicted (really going out on a limb..) in my original draft, our new president hasn't fulfilled all his campaign promises. Anyone who expected him to is extremely naive. Despite the best of intentions so many things change once you take over as President of the United States.

Previously unknown facts and issues now figure into your plans.

The competence of those you chose to delegate responsibilities to figures in and isn't always positive.
A cable 'disinformation' network might spend considerable resources (and any remnants of integrity they might have left) working with your failure as their goal.

And of course every organization or group that's been held down by the previous administration expects you to work tirelessly on their cause, ignoring all other factors.

My personal disappointments have been in the area of upholding the rule of law and the oath of office. I realize that I am ignorant of so much of what President Obama has to deal with, but I believe I do have a right to expect that a solemn oath be honored. When you swear "...To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America..." you can't just choose to ignore serious and destructive crimes, not just against the Constitution but also those that violate international laws and conventions we've signed on to. Perhaps the worst crime being the lies told to gain acceptance and support for a war resulting in so many unnecessary deaths.

When our jails and prisons are overflowing with so many people convicted of non-violent crimes (including those involving marijuana), and also those who are addicted to heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines (who should be given treatment instead of spending huge amounts of money to 'warehouse' them), you can't simply choose to ignore that oath you took and let those from the previous administration who [allegedly] committed crimes of such magnitude and far reaching implications go unpunished.

For someone who has faced all his other challenges with confidence, to "... choose to look forward instead of backwards ...", ignoring such destructive crimes is truly unbelievable and to me makes you complicit or at the very least guilty of obstructing justice. The same goes for the decision to continue certain secretive policies of the Bush administration, and to let the telecoms who enabled the country's many intelligence agencies to [illegally] spy on innocent citizens 'get off' without prosecution.

President Obama certainly knows what kind of precedent this sets, and how it will enable and give future administration the political cover to engage in similar (or worse) misdeeds. To be complicit in or enable that flies in the face of his otherwise honorable character traits.

It's sad to think that within the legacy of President Obama, this failure to uphold the rule of law, this failure to uphold the oath of office he swore to in front of the citizens of this great country, will tarnish all of the good things he accomplished. Not because he couldn't, but because he chose not to.

Overall I'm so proud of our president and the direction he's taken our country. He represents us well and is such a welcome change after the nightmare of the previous eight years. He is certainly not perfect, nor should anyone ever expect that, but he is an honorable man trying to do his best for his country, doing so in spite of an ugly exhibition of thinly veiled and at times outright racism. His honest attempts at bipartisanship are met with scorn and hostility. Pragmatic in other areas but as yet unable to be so in this case when the good of the country and limited time demand it.

There's still time of course. Two wars, a fragile economy, and the opposition party dedicated to do nothing but obstruct whatever you try to do (and I left a *few* things out) isn't that hard to deal with is it? [\sarcasm]

Best of luck Mr. President. I'm not sure how you've kept your sanity to this point but I'm sure glad you have. The ability to suffer idiots and assholes must be a part of it, something I don't do nearly as well. They're revealing their character and you yours.

I'm proud of you sir, but please don't ignore that oath you took. That and the Constitution are more important than any one of us.