Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama's First Week

Here is what we know after seven days of Change:

(1) The new president is aggressively attacking the economic downturn and, though perhaps too eager to make tax-cut concessions to roll up a bipartisan score, is realizing that nothing will appease Republican know-nothings and, as a result, showing some signs of toughening up in getting a stimulus bill passed without delay.

(2) Though there is much that can be done by executive fiat, it will take longer and be more complicated to make good on campaign promises to close Guantanamo (without freeing Al Qaeda terrorists) and get troops out of Iraq without endangering stability.

(3) His ambition and self-confidence are huge. In making his first phone call to Palestinian President Abbas and giving his first exclusive interview to an Arab TV network, Obama is signaling a change not only in Middle East policy but US attitude toward engaging the rest of the world, insisting that “the Americans are not your enemy.”

He is telling them, "I cannot respect terrorist organizations that would kill innocent civilians and we will hunt them down. But to the broader Muslim world what we are going to be offering is a hand of friendship.”

All this is leaving him open to attacks for being naïve, reckless or worse but, in the first week of America After Bush, government is beginning to look like it might possibly be (pace Ronald Reagan) more like the answer than the problem.

So far, so good with 207 weeks to go in Barack Obama's first term.

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