Sunday, December 28, 2008

Change? What Change?

On this upcoming New Year, let's drink a toast to the geniuses who came up with the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That's the one that moved Inauguration Day from March 4 to its current January 20. Thanks to those wonderful far-sighted people we only have to endure the administration of President George W. Bush for another 23 days instead of three more long months.

President Bush and His Band of Renown have dug us a pretty deep hole, and I'll sure be glad to see them go. My wildest dream is for President Obama to show up at the White House on Inauguration Day, leading a phalanx of federal agents ready to make arrests, but that's probably not going to happen. Inauguration Day makes the exit mandatory, but the handcuffs optional.

While we are toasting the 20th Amendment geniuses this New Year's Day, we should all probably take a few minutes for some quiet reflection. Up for consideration: Are we prepared for the Change™ we just voted for? Is Obama up to the job? Is his Cabinet? Are the Republicans ready to play nice or are they going to try to continue a policy of obstruction? Will anything get done? Will the right things get done? When will things get better? And how much worse do they have to get before they do get better?

I've never been an Obamaniac or an Obamaphile or whatever the true believers are calling themselves. I've always been a bit leery about him. I can't decide if he is all smoke and mirrors or the real deal. He seems to me to be a kind of political Rorschach test -- sort of a blank slate that anyone can interpret any way they please. It's probably because of his lack of experience, the absence of any kind of record that would help us get a solid feel for the man. He's always struck me as too much of a centrist, too willing to go along to get along, too ready to make accommodations to his political enemies at the expense of the people who actually voted for him. The choice of Rick Warren to lead the invocation at the Inauguration is a good example of this philosophy. Is this the Change™ we voted for? But, then again, John Edwards got my primary vote and we all know what a disaster that would have been had he won the nomination.

Obama's cabinet is another political Rorschach test. They are such a mixed bag that no one can predict how (or even if) they're ever going to be able to work together, so feel free to project away. The cabinet nominees seem to be a pretty capable, pragmatic bunch -- and Obama seems to be getting them all on the same page so that they can hit the ground running. Some of his choices though (Ray LaHood, for one) really have me scratching my head and wondering what the hell he was thinking. It seems like there are more Republicans in the cabinet than progressives. And what's with all the Clintonites (Clintonistas?) Is this the Change™ we voted for? The "team of rivals" phrase and other comparisons to Abraham Lincoln were being thrown around pretty freely for a while, but it remains to be seen if Obama has Lincoln's political acumen and can take charge of this diverse group. Obama has spoken of changing the trajectory of the country like Reagan did, but he hasn't really articulated the whole "vision thing" yet. Change™ is a pretty generic term. Are we talking about real fundamental change or just tinkering around the edges of the problems?

The only thing we know for sure is that things have got to improve (even if just a little) after January 20. At this point, a team of feces-slinging monkeys would be an improvement over the Bush administration. There's no way an Obama administration could foul things up worse. The transition is usually a peaceful period compared to the frantic pace of the election season. It's a time for regrouping and reorganizing broken up by a few holidays. It's a welcome break between campaigning and governing. I'm just glad we don't have to keep this up until March 4. Let's get these last 23 days over and get busy.

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posted at 12:53:00 AM by Duane Tate

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