If there was any doubt that Americans were tired of fear, secrecy and "the dark side" it was completely erased on inauguration day. The moment President Barack Obama (gosh, that sounds nice, doesn't it?) completed the oath of office (the first time) there was a collective worldwide cheer of joy and celebration.
Let me just take a moment to savor that again: President Barack H. Obama. President Barack Obama. President Obama. It doesn't matter how you say it, it sounds wonderful!
The glad-handing lopsided grin of former (gosh that sounds nice, doesn't it?) President Bush quickly turned into a stone-faced smile as he viewed the unending wave of humanity standing in the cold to support the new president and celebrate his removal. The smirk he wore after his last election when he said, "This is a celebration for the have's and the have mores," slipped to a grimace as he listened to President Obama issue a new mandate that quickly torpedoed the Bush years.
Amid warnings of difficult times ahead, as well as uplifting words of courage and promise, President Obama laid the blame for our current crises squarely in the lap of the Bush administration.
"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet." -Obama Inauguration Speech, January 20, 2009.
A fresh wind blew across Washington with those words and began the process of blowing out the stench of self-serving greed, corruption and fear.
On the plane ride to Texas from Washington, Bush insiders Karen Hughes and Karl Rove took offense to the speech. Hughes felt Bush should have been given credit for helping people around the world.
Oh, really? And just how did he help people around the world? By invading a country and killing their people? By ignoring the genocide in Darfur? Putting aside all that he did for the world, what exactly did he do for his own country besides leave it emotionally, environmentally, financially and morally bereft? If he helped so many people why did the entire world exalt at his leaving office?
The legacy that Bush was so concerned about will be ugly. History will not be kind to the Bush administration no matter how much of a spin they try to put on it. His tenure will still be that of the most unpopular president in American history. If this fact did not sink in to his loyalists, it clearly smacked Bush right in the face on Inauguration Day. The message was all too clear: You are not only disliked by your own country, but the entire world.
Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Bush's "critics again distorted his record, maligned his character and repeated untruths about his years in the Oval Office." Rove also said that Mr. Bush had cut taxes (only for the top 1% of the population) expanded Medicare (making it more costly and unwieldy for those who use it) improved schools (not so that you could notice –except to line the pockets of the Bush family) liberated Iraq (ask the Iraqis about that) and protected the country (not really, since our most serious attack to our country since Pearl Harbor came nine months after he first took office, and New Orleans was practically obliterated by Katrina and its neglected levees).
It's a repetition of the same fractured fairy tales we have been hearing the last couple of months as Bush & Co. tried to enhance his lamentable record of doing nothing really worthwhile for the country. Rove can only list 5 things about Bush's tenure of 8 years? President Obama did more than that in 5 days!
Since taking office on Tuesday, President Obama has put a stop to sunset regulations put in motion by Bush, ordered Guantanamo shut within a year, required the closure of any remaining secret CIA "black site" prisons abroad, barred CIA interrogator from using harsh techniques (torture), presented a serious stimulus package to begin stabilizing the economy, reiterated his plans to withdraw from Iraq, reversed an abortion policy, promised his support of the Lilly Ledbetter Bill to insure equal pay, pledged to lift a ban on stem cell research, issued new ethic rules for his administration and pledged to preside over a transparent government!
Whew! And that's not even a complete list. Even God took seven days to create the world, but then he didn't have Obama's crack staff to help him either.
Yup. There is a new sheriff in town with a new mandate. No longer will there be corrosive and corrupt, possibly illegal, behavior behind closed doors. No more cowboy diplomacy, shooting first and figuring out why later.
"...we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord . . . those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account . . . and do our business in the light of day." --President Barack Obama, 1-20-09
We have indeed stepped into the light of day.