Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Change has already come

You work for years and years toiling on certain policy goals and campaigns, when what it really takes is an election. Sometimes nothing more than the snap of a finger from the right person is enough to get the job done. We are just 28 hours into the new administration, and yet it is already a new country. The right person is now snapping those fingers, and in just 28 hours we have seen changes in civil rights, secrecy, torture, Iraq, the culture of DC, and our reputation abroad.

Just 28 hours in, the symbols of torture are crumbling and civil rights like due process and habeus corpus are back:
The new Obama administration circulated a draft executive order Wednesday that calls for closing the controversial detention center at Guantanamo Bay within a year and halting any war crimes trials in the meantime... The order circulated as the judge in one war crimes case agreed to Obama's request to suspend proceedings pending a 120-day review.

Concerning anti-democratic secrecy, the Ashcroft memo is already gone:
In an attempt to deliver on pledges of a transparent government, Obama said he would change the way the federal government interprets the Freedom of Information Act. He said he was directing agencies that vet requests for information to err on the side of making information public — not to look for reasons to legally withhold it — an alteration to the traditional standard of evaluation. Just because a government agency has the legal power to keep information private does not mean that it should, Obama said.

The culture of DC, at least on one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, is also changing:
President Barack Obama's first public act in office Wednesday was to institute new limits on lobbyists in his White House and to freeze the salaries of high-paid aides, in a nod to the country's economic turmoil... "Families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington," said the new president... Obama's new lobbying rules will not only ban aides from trying to influence the administration when they leave his staff. Those already hired will be banned from working on matters they have previously lobbied on, or to approach agencies that they once targeted. The rules also ban lobbyists from giving gifts of any size to any member of his administration.

Now if only Congress could act like that. Next, EX-PRESIDENT Bush said last week that the United States enjoys a good reputation abroad - but that's not up to him. It's up to those abroad. Our reputation has been in tatters, but already, in less than 28 hours, it is improving:
Obama has an opportunity to reverse this trend. Sixty-one percent of French voters, 55 percent of Germans and 51 percent of Britons believe Obama will improve trans-Atlantic relations, according to the GMF survey. A skilled communicator, Obama has shown he can address sensitive issues with unusual grace and complexity. “He speaks like us,” declared the Swiss minister of foreign affairs. Moreover, Obama’s personal story appeals to European publics and reminds them of ideals they share with Americans.

And finally, looking to the future if not the past day, the "war on science" is about to end:
President Barack Obama pledged a return to science in his inaugural address on Tuesday... Obama is also widely expected to quickly reverse Bush's executive order that has had the effect of limiting embryonic stem cell research.

Obama's logo is a rising sun. Indeed, it's been a long and lonely winter - but seasons always change. Spring may not always be what you want it to be - we tend to forget about mud when our mind is on flowers and birds - but it still sure beats the heck out of winter.


Dogwalkmusings said...

Reading this post is a breath of fresh air for what has been a couple of really bad days for me. Thanks Nathan!

Nathan Empsall said...

Oh no! I hope everything is alright!

James said...

I second Dog's comment about the fresh air. Now, if we can only have Junior prosecuted for war crimes, I'll be satisfied.

Thank you, Nathan, your posts are always great and when you write on politics you have a way of putting it succinctly.

Nathan Empsall said...

Thank you, James! Though I must say, I agree with Obama on the first part of your comment - let's look forward, not backwards. Like with Ford, we've just got to let the "long national nightmare" be over.

Jordan said...

George W. Bush prosecuted for war crimes!?

What a deluded little thought that is.

We'll see how this goes. On your blog it may be all roses and sunshine but not everyone's happy. There are plenty of people that are irate over 44's current activities.

Nathan Empsall said...

Taken literally, "deluded" and "little thought" are descriptive and neutral, but together as a sentence, that is a rather personal and insulting way to phrase a disagreement. Furthermore, while I agree that such prosecutions will never happen under the new CINC, calling something "a deluded little thought" without explaining why it's wrong is hardly up to the standard you set for your comments, ie, it's a juvenile taunt, not a "serious challenge." (That said, you'll see I didn't reject it.)

I sympathize with the 9/11 families in the Faux News link, but anyone who says Obama is taking the side of the terrorists is too far out on the political fringe to be taken seriously, no matter how powerful and important their personal story may be. What's wrong with due process? It's the best way to avoid punishing those who aren't guilty and of making sure the punishment the guilty get is a valid and credible one, the type they deserve. I would also point out that many 9/11 families opposed Bush's methods. A truly "fair and balanced" headline would have read "Some 9/11 Families..." Finally, it's not just roses and sunshine here - Bush, the chief of the anti-Constitutional tactics, leaves with an approval of 22% (Clinton and Reagan left at 68); whereas 68% expect Obama will do a good job.