President Obama hasn't even been in office a full week yet, but he's already earned his first year's salary as far as I'm concerned. This bold, determined man of action has already signed an executive order to close our notorious prison/torture complex at Guantanamo, has established strict new controls on lobbyist access to the White House, has met with Republican opposition leaders to actually listen to their concerns, has met with his economic team to lay the groundwork for an economic recovery plan, has met with top military brass concerning Iraq and Afghanistan, has declared an end to torture, and has issued an important Middle East pronouncement reaffirming Israel's right to existence and to defend herself, yet also recognizing publicly the injustices she has wrought on the Palestinian people. This whirlwind of decisive leadership and proaction has made his predecessor's mode of action seem as if it were an immobilized marble statue. Had Bush even attempted to achieve this much, it would have surely exhausted him and led to a 3 month vacation somewhere! This week has been a damn fine beginning to what I believe will be a remarkably good and effective presidency.
Obama's critics have already begun their chorus of dischordant catcalls, however. The ever-enlightening and genteel ass Rush Limbaugh has already publicly stated he hopes Obama will fail (now THAT'S patriotic and pro-American!); Bill O'Reilly has already vowed to "watch" Obama (as though he were an escaped criminal or burglar); prehistoric John Boehner has already voiced suspicious concern that Obama's economic stimulus plan may be too costly (as if we can afford to let the economy collapse altogether); Mitch McConnell, while praising Obama's inclusiveness and approach overall, has nonetheless echoed Boehner's concerns and has kept his cards close to the vest, the reliably molten-mouthed Ann Coulter has already snidely attacked the new President, referring to him as "B. Hussein Obama", declaring his inauguration address to be non-substantive, and mocking his inaugurational ceremony itself in her January 21 column; and some on the left have criticized Obama for an economic plan they believe may not be big enough, and for letting right-wing Pastor Rick Warren speak at the inauguration. So much for the long, extended political honeymoon. But I am not worried. For the first time in 8 years, my political stress level has taken a nosedive. I know our Supreme Court will no longer drift rightward and will thus not become more anti-Bill of Rights, anti-labor, pro-business, or pro-executive power. I also know that, at long last, we have an administration that will work for the benefit of the common man instead of only concentrated capital. It will also be an administration far more transparent than its predecessor, and one that will conduct itself legally and honorably throughout the world and will engage in dialogue and multilateralism instead of engaging in unilateral pre-emptive war and torture.
Nothing is ever certain in politics or diplomacy. There are a huge number of vitally pressing and complicated situations which demand rapid attention and solution. But for the first time in 8 years, I believe we have an administration and a President with the brainpower, vision, and energy needed to see us through. And that is why I am feeling this bit of post-inaugural euphoria. I hope and pray it will continue for a long time to come!