29 January 2009

Obama's First Week in Review

Day 1: Okay, technically he started the job at noon EST on the 20th, but that was all making sure the Bush/Cheneys were really gone, and then dancing the night away. We’ll start with his first full day in office, Wednesday 21-Jan.

Let’s see: he stopped the use of (quotes in air) “certain interrogation techniques” (aka TORTURE!), he laid down completely new rules on ethics and lobbying for the entire government, and ordered all departments to comply with FOIA and other requests, making government more open than it’s ever been.

He met with his military commandments and, exactly as he promised, ordered them to find a way to get out of Iraq within 16 months.

Day 2: Ordered Guantanamo Bay prison closed within a year, and more importantly also closed the “black site” secret prisons (really, what country had the US turned into to have “secret torture prisons”?), reiterated the torture ban by ordering all services to stick to the Army Field Manual until further notice, and appointed George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke (the two most effective diplomats in living memory) to be envoys to the Middle East and Afghanistan, respectively.

Day 3: Reversed Bush’s ban on providing aid to overseas family-planning groups that offer abortions (among other services). There were remote missile strikes in Pakistan that day as well, but although Obama undoubtedly knew this would happen, the action was within the purview of the military and did not require Obama’s order or involvement.

Day 4: A light day -- gave his “radio” address (actually a YouTube video) to the nation, directly pitching his $825B stimulus program and talking in depth about the economy. Met with Republicans to discuss ideas and changes to his stimulus plan, even though he didn’t have to and they didn’t have any new ideas anyway. Agreed to a few minor changes to make them happy, which probably won’t work.

Day 5: And on Sunday, he rested. Obama attended church (something Bush never did in eight years, btw). Biden was out doing the “serious talk show” circuit, chatting up the economy and answering questions on a range of topics.

Day 6: Turning to the environment, he ordered the EPA to allow states (read: California) to set emissions standards, meaning car makers are effectively forced to make more energy-efficient vehicles. Boo car makers, yay environment.

Day 7: Went to Capitol Hill to meet with Republicans again, once again trying to get them on board with the stimulus plan. Sadly, they had already decided to be against everything Obama was for before he ever arrived. A closed mind is a terrible thing to waste, apparently. Reminder: Obama already had the votes to pass this, and didn’t need the Republicans. They’ve apparently forgotten the spanking they got from Clinton the last time they pulled this sort of tantrum ...

Bonus Day 8: Republicans, unable to think as individuals, vote as a bloc against the stim package. All that effort for nothing. Package passes anyway, reminding the public that Republicans are now a regional party representing Texas, Idaho and the Appalachians with no real power to do anything but pout. Hopefully Obama will learn something from this experience, but he hosted a cocktail party for senior members of Congress later this evening anyway. Classy to a fault, this guy.

Agree or disagree with his policies, it’s obvious that he’s energetic, bold and yet gracious. Damn that’s nice to have around after eight years of lazy, rude and stupid.

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