Please welcome Joseph Rogers as our new political opinion columnist!
Since we passed from one presidential administration to the other on January 20th, let’s look back at what occurred over the past eight years and reflect on what I hope to see in the next four to eight years. President Obama ran on the platform of Hope and Change, and while both are needed desperately, they are rather vague and non-specific concepts. As a result, President Obama’s implementation of these concepts will most likely not engender him as much adulation and respect as the discussion of them did.
I must admit that while I was not a fan of President Bush, during his eight years he has accomplished a large amount of work. After September 11, 2001 he had the American people united behind him in a way that has not been seen since Pearl Harbor was bombed. Important legislation was passed multiple times far more quickly than many feel it should have been as a result, and many were unhappy with him and his time in office. The most recent example is the $700 billion “bailout” that was fast tracked through Congress with little or no Congressional oversight as to how the money will actually be spent by Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury. Originally intended to cover bad debt that was taken on by large banks, it has been used to pay for 1.6 Billion dollars in Executive Bonuses according to a study done by the Associated Press. When Congress was disinclined to bailout the Big 3 Automakers (GM, Ford, and Chrysler), then Paulson gave them the requested money out of the original bailout funds. This is an application of funds that had not been considered to that point.
President Obama has not had enough time in office for me to make a fair judgment, yet I notice many things I consider characteristics of greatness about him. George Washington chose his cabinet members from men whom he knew would at times disagree with him. Rather than loyalty, the Father of the Presidency valued independent thought in his advisers, thereby demonstrating his willingness to see from all sides. The G.W. Bush administration officials were mostly chosen on the point of whether or not they would have been unswervingly loyal. When Joe Biden was selected and people discussed his tendency to talk out of turn and to speak when he would do better to be quiet, I was reminded of why President Washington chose his own advisers; not because they would agree with him, but because he could count on them to give multiple perspectives. Throughout his campaign President Obama handled himself with a level of class and self control that I found impressive.
There are those who question his choice of advisors and cabinet officials, most notably leaving Robert Gates in his capacity as Secretary of Defense. One can understand why this might cause some consternation, as many of his advisors are former Bush administration. I feel the need to point out two advisors to Mr. Obama had stated that President Obama intended to shut down Guantanamo Bay military base if not the first day he took office, then very soon afterwards, which he has already proven. Examining the degree of trouble that America is experiencing economically, militarily, generally, it seems that President Obama has chosen to leave as much infrastructure and as many current officials in place so as to cause less upheaval when the policy changes begin. Rather than new appointees having to gain the respect of those they work with and for, established operators that people know and already work for would be in place. If I myself were trying to captain a sinking ship, I would rather my employees be focused on fixing the problems with the ship, as opposed to dealing with petty ego issues, and the drama that always comes when working for someone new.
I ask you all to give President Obama the chance that he has earned to run our country. I have been thoroughly impressed by his intelligence, his willingness to deliberate and discuss things rather than make decisions off the cuff, and if necessary, to re-think whether he made the correct decision in the first place. Deliberation, contrary to what many seem to think, is not a vice.
He is a Constitutional Scholar from the Harvard School of Law, and a newcomer to Washington DC and as such, he has great potential to shake things up and make it work. I want you all to know that no, I was not happy with many things I saw go on in the Bush administration, but I am not going to follow President Obama blindly and neither should you. I will be keeping as critical an eye on him as I did President Bush. I also want you to know that I truly believe if we all pull together, and work for a common goal, then “Yes, We Can” heal our country and restore our standing internationally.
God Bless America,