Bush has paid lip service to those who have served in the military but refused to pay for the physical and mental scars of the wars he prosecuted. He has hidden our soldiers’ deaths from the public in order to bury the real cost of war and prevent the outrage we should have felt. Our banking and finance system is so complicated and corrupt that Congress cannot comprehend it. We have laid so much debt on future generations that we now must ask nicely for the Chinese People’s Republic to further mortgage our children’s future.
But worst of all, George W. Bush did all of this in the name of spreading freedom, when what he was really doing was spreading an ideology that had more to do with his ego than what the United States represents to the world.
Obama has his hands full. His main challenge will be to convince the world that we will stop “spreading democracy” by sending our military into countries that have not transgressed against the United States. Despite the humiliation of the George Bush presidency, the world is looking to our country again as a “shining city on a hill,” as Ronald Reagan called it, because we selected this 47-year-old African American to restore our nation and to move the world with us to a better place.
Can Obama really do it?
We look to his appointments and early actions to see if there is a hint as to what President Obama will do. Asking Rick Warren to conduct the Inaugural prayer seems like an unnecessary insult to tens of millions gay Americas. But by holding a hand out to those that don’t agree with him, maybe Obama genuinely is building trust. I have reason to think his approach may be working. The fear is that Obama seems so intent on making governing from the middle that we may never get the real reforms the country requires to lead the world. On the other hand, we have seen what minority government is in the Clinton and Bush years and we know it does not work. We need a leader who can bring the country with him. When JFK decided the US should go to the moon, he had a poll in his pocket that only 20 percent of Americans thought it was a good idea. Kennedy changed our minds. Obama must perform the same magic on half a dozen major issues.
His appointment of Leon Panetta at CIA tells me that he will not be rolled by the intelligence community. But when Jimmy Carter put an outsider in charge at the CIA, the appointment cost him his presidency. Is Obama tough enough to reform the Pentagon and the CIA? Ask the Clintons how tough he is.
The real questions for those who opposed the war and believe the United States has lost all credibility in the Middle East can be summed up by the appointment of Hillary Clinton and the decision to keep Bob Gates at the Pentagon. Secretary Clinton will be the most openly pro-Israel Secretary of State we have ever had. Will the Arab leaders take seriously anything she offers to make a deal? Will Gates really help Obama end the war in Iraq?
And what of the faltering US war in Afghanistan and faltering Pakistan? Is Obama up to cutting off the Saudi’s money pipeline to Arab extremists? Will he get bin Laden or was that an empty promise? Will we be attacked on his watch?
That answer depends on one major question. Is Obama really prepared to stop Saudi financing of a nuclear Jihad through Pakistan?
Will red America give him a chance to lead?
I live in a rural part of Virginia where there were just a few Obama supporters. But proud self-proclaimed rednecks sense that maybe Obama is serious about change. People who could not imagine voting for a liberal Democrat are supporting Obama because he is now their great and only hope. The truth is, he comes into Washington with so many problems on his desk that you would have to be deranged not to be praying for him.
It may be his disappointed liberal supporters he has to worry about most. Obama may not be able to satisfy them and still govern from the middle. It would be tragic if he was derailed for not sponsoring an impossible agenda.
Not since I was a boy and we elected John F. Kennedy has there been such a feeling of hope in the air. Because of the awful way that presidency, ended those of us of a certain age understand what a precious commodity a leader who can unite our country is. We waited decades for someone with that kind of promise to emerge. I really thought I would not encounter such a leader in my lifetime again. I hope for all our sakes Mr. Obama is that kind of leader.