Letting it sink in

There is no basking in the moment for President-Elect Obama.  Never do I remember a time when a President-Elect has hit the ground running like this.  It is more than simply getting the security briefings and starting to fill in his cabinet.  All of them do that.  Usually, though, by three days out, they are not the top news story and certainly not every news story.  This time is different.  Everyone is so intent on what he is going to do, that President Bush has become an afterthought.  I find it all very interesting, how around the world people are now ready to work with America again.  People still look to the US as a leader and we have been without one for so long.  It is as if the bus driver fell asleep at the wheel, allowed the bus to veer dangerously off course, headed towards a cliff and then woke up.  Finally, we have someone driving the bus.  He still is tasked with righting the bus and getting it back on course, but at least someone is at the wheel.  And, he is.  Already.  President Bush seems eager to hand over the reins (or to stick with the bus analogy, wheel).  Obama and Bush will meet next week.  This is the earliest any President and President-Elect have met.  The world is in peril.  Obama is not the savior.  He has a list of emergencies that he must tackle simultaneously.  Yet, it seems everyone is willing to give him a chance at it.  That alone offers hope.


There is one exception to the love fest.  Russia.  President Medvedev’s comments about moving cruise missiles into Western Russia to neutralize the missile defense system in Poland were very “Cold-Warian”.  Certainly, he wasted no time in putting the issue on the table for the new President.  Perhaps it is not a bad thing.  No one wants a cold war, but this is an issue that has the potential to draw the West into a working coalition and even the potential to improve relations with Russia.  We have not dealt with them well and it shows.  They are the big bully on the playground that has the size and strength to back up their threats.  While those of us born before the Cold War officially ended will always see the Russians as our arch enemy (Wolverines!)  we should be able to communicate and negotiate.  We did so before.  The world will never be the bi-polar world that it was, but Russia is still a player in the multi-polar world of today and should be treated as such.


On the subject of Russia:  While everyone was so eager to place full blame of the Russian-Georgian conflict squarely on Russia, new news is surfacing that adds more nuance.  Accounts suggest that Georgia attacked Tskhinvali putting civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors in the line of fire.  The accounts do not settle the matter conclusively and Russia is certainly not blameless, but there is more to the story than the easy and simplistic headline stories of “Big Bad Russia Beats Up Little ‘Ole Georgia”.   [Footnote: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/07/world/europe/07georgia.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin]




The reaction to the election on a ground level continues to intrigue me.  Those around me who were Obama supporters continue to covertly celebrate.  There is a caution that I find fascinating when either known McCain supporters or others with unknown affiliations are nearby.  I understand not wanting to offend, but it seems more than that.  There are veiled inquiries, such as the email I received from an employee thanking me for sending out the voting information.  The email ended with “I have hope.”  I replied in the affirmative.  It’s like a secret hand signal.  I passed the co-worker I ran into at the Obama rally and we don’t stop to talk, but smile and say congratulations.  The flipside of this are those who whisper concerns and shake their heads. 


There are conversations that are less subtle though.  I spent 20 minutes trying to explain that the world has not ended to a friend and associate that I have known for 15 years.  She is a small business owner who is successful.  Obama’s tax plan will effect her.  But, that is not really the big issue.  The issue is the world view.  Government is the problem every time.  You simply can’t argue this.  The paradigm she espouses is not foreign to me; I use to see the world in those terms.  The government doesn’t always make it easier to defend it either.  It is imperfect and we can only strive to perfect.  It is not a goal that we will ever achieve, but to throw the baby out with the bathwater is not the answer either.  She talked about bloated bureaucracy and taxes dollars that she would pay and how they would be wasted.  She didn’t agree with my counter that the current administration had done a horrible job.  She worried that the new administration would be giving hand outs to people and then people would have no cause to work.  I told her that I didn’t see his proposals in that way at all, giving the example of a year of service for $4,000 towards tuition.  She scoffed.  She said there would be tax breaks for those who don’t even pay taxes.  I told her that I pay taxes and I would be getting a break and if she was in the top 5% who would have to pay more that I was sorry but she was lucky to live in a country where her success was possible.  All through the conversation I was amazed at how much she embraced and was fully indoctrinated in the Republican Party of the 1980’s and 1990’s.  It was a cautious and friendly conversation for all of our distinct disagreements.  She hoped I was right, but doesn’t believe I am.  I hope I am right, too.  We agreed to talk again in a year.  I hope I have some good answers to offer her.


1 Response to “Letting it sink in”

  1. 1 jon
    November 7, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Nice summation but I gotta wonder, while Bush is “handing over the wheel” and the world is watching the President-elect, who’s watching Bush?

    It is not time to quit watching Bush. The man still has time to foul the nest a little more.

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