He rode to Washington with all of the pomp and prestige that any winning candidate could display. His inaugural was the most inspiring since John F. Kennedy stood in the sunlight on that frigid day so long ago. The general feeling was one of relief since the nightmare that resulted from the bitter fruit of the Bush-Cheney years seemed to be over. Much of the country celebrated with this new, young president and his beautiful wife and family. It was a wonder to feel such relief. So, is it any wonder that few took time to realize the burden that was being assumed when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court administered the Oath of Office, and slipped in his wording as though some part of him opposed what he might have seen as a usurper from the ideological left.
Words, praise, prayers, hymns, patriotic songs, Ms Aretha’s hat, a parade, the crowded Mall, and finally the quiet that comes after celebration.
In the hush that followed some waited for the miracle to happen. Some of these people who waited were sincere and thought that this man could cure the ills just by taking office, but also some of those waiting were the cynics who wanted this new president to fall on his handsome face. (Nothing personal they fooled themselves into thinking, but even though much is ideological, it is always personal.)
The more realistic among us had worried that too much might be expected by a population that had become used to immediate gratification. Would it be out of line for a people who had not been asked to sacrifice their comfort since World War II now be required to tighten their belts and possibly shred their credit cards, and that this would be bitter and therefore resisted and resented?
He was now ensconced in the White House, and began to look at the plate left by his predecessor on which he was now obliged to dine: a national and world-wide economy in shambles, abject poverty in so much of the populace, wars continuing to rage in Iraq and Afghanistan, global warming, North Korea, prestige of the United States at an all-time low, an ineffective and costly health care “system,” an underfunded education system that was failing to properly motivate and educate, an infrastructure that is crumbling, and a spiraling National Debt. It would seem that no President since Franklin Roosevelt had faced such burdens from so many sources.
Mr. Obama has been in office for less than 100 days, and I hear questions as to why these problems he inherited are still with us. People ask, is he just an extension of the Bush/Cheney administration that we had hoped he would pull out by its roots and replace with a healthy and beautiful legacy of his own? Where is the cure, and how come it is taking so long?
How come is it taking so long? The problems that this President has called attention to are problems that have been festering like cancerous sores, draining not only our financial worth, but also causing a putrefaction that is eroding our National Will. We have seen the greed and corruption of “big business,” the whole “get mine and screw you” mentality and the chaos that resulted from years of unbridled deregulation and fiscal immorality. The underfunding of social programs; the financing of a President’s unjust war in Iraq that sunk what will amount to trillions of dollars to fight an enemy that wasn’t there; a war in Afghanistan that should have put all of our resources to work dedicated to finding and speedily trying the force behind the attack on the Trade Center buildings on that infamous 9/11 morning, but instead was all but given up upon by an administration that could not reach beyond the before mentioned Iraq. Global warming, the butt of jokes from the Bush administration because the former Vice President Gore was a proponent of our needs in this area, and because big business did not want to see the brakes applied to their greed motivated need to continue to pollute; a North Korean government labeled as a part of “the axis of evil” and with whom we could not seriously negotiate who now stands poised to launch its first missile and with an angry mad man at its helm. The prestige of the United States, so badly in need of resuscitation after eight years of arrogance and disregard for those with whom we share this planet earth; our health system which is the most expensive in the world but does not approach the favorable outcomes of much of the industrial world, yet which has a lobbying force from insurance companies and pharmaceutical houses so strong that it has been untouchable (remember the campaign waged by them and by the Republican Party when Hillary Clinton took on the task of reformation about sixteen years ago). The education system (?) that through sheer neglect and under-funding has been allowed to sink to a level where we find a lower and lower percentage of high school graduates, school budgets that will not stretch to semesters-end, graduating of students who cannot properly read or successfully complete simple mathematics problems and therefore are virtually unemployable; an infrastructure that has deteriorated to the alarming level where bridges have fallen through and highways are nothing but one pot hole after another. We are in debt to countries we never dreamed would hold our paper, and if China ever calls due what we owe them, we will really be in fierce trouble. This National Debt will only grow until these problems are resolved.
Taking so long? I am appalled to hear people seriously criticize the course now being undertaken when that course is new, fresh and because it is so new, cannot be fairly judged. What will put our economy right? The Conservative Republicans continue to call for tax cuts for the wealthy (again and still!) as though those failed trickle down practices were still a viable option, and every proposal made by this new administration is damned by this opposition composed of the men and women whose eight years of failure brought us to this brink. Should we continue to follow their lead and step over the precipice? The resulting fall could cause irreparable damage to the Republic. I cannot believe that these men believe that a continuation of the course set by the previous administration and endorsed by them would be wise. They are intelligent people, aren’t they? Are they? The only conclusion that can be drawn is that they are willing to “sell-out” for the sake of financial contributions for their reelection to the Senate or the House.
Mr. Obama has made inroads toward correction on many fronts. Some of these decisions we may not fully agree with, but whether we like them all or not, we need to exhibit uncharacteristic patience. We need to wait and see. We know that the fiscal problems continue to be addressed, more in the last sixty-plus days than in the previous eight years. He has given dates for troop withdrawal from Iraq and an end to our involvement in that conflict, he has given a date when the hated Guantanamo prison will close, he has ratcheted up the troop numbers in Afghanistan (time will definitely judge this move,) he has recognized the need for Universal Health Insurance although the gauntlet has not yet been flung, and he has expressed recognition of the need for education overhaul. All of this has come about in less than 100 days.
Is it “cutting him an unfair break” to expect that we as a nation should give him time? Can we expect the so-called “loyal opposition” to be a bit more loyal and a bit less opposed? Can we just support the man for what very possibly might be the betterment of the country? Can we suppress our urge to be arm chair critics without solutions proffering some knee-jerk reaction to whatever is proposed? If the proposals will initiate a new sense of responsibility both fiscally and socially, are they not worth a try?
It could be that the most radical thing we could do at this time is to simply recognize past failures, have some faith in the government we have elected and believe for a while longer that “Yes We Can!” Even Super Man needs time.