Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fast Times

Those who are saying Obama can't rapidly change our country for the better should ask themselves this:

How rapidly did George W. Bush change our country for the worse?

In my recollection, it happened almost instantaneously.

He performed the coup de grace on our doddering electoral system on the way into office.

He then stood stunned and impotent as cities went down in flames and flood, and ruined our chances of catching Osama Bin Laden with trumped-up war in Iraq and endless deployments. He goaded our financial system as it ran amok, wrecked the American system of checks and balances, gutted the Bill of Rights, and all but annihilated our international reputation for human rights and justice.

And that was only in his first term.

So there's a precedent for swift action. Now we'll see if it works as well for good government as for bad.

It's a good thing W. is a lazy man, or it could have been a lot worse. Just think, these and many other innovations (signing statements, abstinence-only family planning, vice-presidential secession from the executive branch) occurred despite W.'s record-setting presidential vacations: while Rome and Baghdad burned, the man spent one day out of four on vacation. Two full years' worth. "Working vacations," he explained.

It's hard work dismantling a society.

But then came January 20th. Now, in one day, Obama has reversed course on some of the worst policies ever promulgated by any politician anywhere, and though it's uphill from here and there are many nigh-unsolvable problems down the road, today we can feel like the nation finally got a good day's work out of its chief executive.

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