Thursday, January 22, 2009
The First Twenty-Four Hours
It's been about 24 hours since BHO has had the reins of power in his grasp and while one day does not an administration make, I'm wondering if the first 24 hours gives us a clue to the direction in which we are headed.
One of his first acts was issue an executive order reversing the Bush administration policy that bans the use of federal dollars by non-govermental organizations that discuss or provide abortions outside of the United States. Despite campaigning on a hope to reduce abortions, we are now funding overseas abortions.
As promised, Obama signed the empty-order to close Gitmo. I say empty because he doesn't yet know what to do with the detainees. The order also vows to figure out what to do with them. Of the ones still there, 60 have already been cleared for release but because they are in danger of persecution or torture from their home countries, they have no place to go. There are other dangerous prisoners there who can not be tried in regular federal American courts for obvious reasons - they aren't American citizens, for one; they've not been given Miranda rights because they are enemy combatants captured in the field of battle, and the only other option is a military tribunal.
You can not hold these guys in regular prisons on United States soil. This endangers the very communities they desired to attack. The military bases that have been suggested as viable options are no good either - military training is going on there, or the bases are part of the community and this would endanger them. Nobody wants them, exept maybe Jack Murtha who actually just wants the pork-benefit of beefing up his own minimum security prison system.
You also have the additonal problem of the martyr. Several of the detainees do not want a halt to their proceedings because they WANT to be sentenced to death and thereby made martyrs. Do you help 'em out, or not?
In short, there are no good options here and the promise to close Gitmo places "hope" before reality and no real clear path to get there. I'm not trying to be a "wet blanket" - it's all well and good to raise our moral standing in the world and to have everyone like us again, but I'd place safety over that any day and I'm not getting the connection just yet.
Ah well, Gitmo aside, Mr. Obama did find time to call a foreign head of state which was to the leader of Fatah, who has terrorist background and terrorist units reporting to him, such as the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. THEN he called President Mubarak of Egypt, Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, and King Abdullah of Jordan. Symbolism is very important, though, and it seems the first call should have been to our ally in Israel. But maybe I'm being trivial.
And also today we read that Obama may order a hold on a proposal issued in the final days of the Bush administration to expand offshore drilling in previously banned areas. Obama is on the record against offshore drilling and has said that drilling is not the answer. We'll have to wait and see what decision he ultimately comes to on this, but not tapping into our own natural resources does not seem to be the answer to decreasing our dependance on foreign oil. The alternatives of "harnessing the winds" and the sun to provide energy seem a bit far down the road.
Meanwhile, to add a bit of absurdity to the mix, how about Larry King telling Bob Woodward: "My younger son Cannon, he is eight. And he now says that he would like to be black. I'm not kidding. He said there's a lot of advantages. Black is in. Is this a turning of the tide?"
Again, the first 24 hours does not an administration make, and in fact, Obama is holding true to the promises he made to his supporters. As conservatives, he told us as well that this is what he wanted to do and this is why we didn't support him. There are still four years of territory ahead and maybe there will be middle ground for us all. Enthusiasm and hope and global world warm fuzzy love is all well and good, but there are other things to consider such as national security.
And of course, if you think I'm being trival, you can check out HuffPo's piece about Obama breaking the Bush (and Reagan) rule of wearing a jacket in the Oval office. Respect for the office and all that.
Everybody take a deep breath. And calm down.