Legalization of marijuana. Rick Warren's invocation at the inauguration. Rod Blagojevich. Proposition 8. A vacant U.S. senate seat in Illinois. Mumbai. Gaza. Iraq. Afghanistan. Economy. Bailout. Unemployment. Torture. Violation of right to privacy.
Where does President-elect Obama start when he takes office on Tuesday January 20, 2009?
If it were up to the marijuana legalization crowd, newly sworn-in President Obama should direct Democratic leadership in the house and the senate to quickly submit/sponsor bills in both houses that enable the federal government to legalize marijuana use and possession in all 50 states. If anyone questions the rabidity of marijuana legalization proponents, one need look no further than www.change.gov and search through the thousands of questions submitted to the Obama Transition Team.
Gay rights supporters are incensed by Obama's choice of Rick Warren, pastor of the evangelical Saddleback Church, to give the invocation at the inauguration. This naturally segues into California's Proposition 8, an amendment to the California state constitution that restricts the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman and eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry. Warren was a key proponent of Proposition 8. This is another hot topic on www.change.gov.
While all of this is going on, men and women continue to die in Iraq because of a senseless war that was preemptively started on false premises by the outgoing administration. The three-day November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai left hundreds dead and wounded, and threatened to heighten tensions between the nuclear powers of Pakistan and India. Deadly conflict in Afghanistan is at its highest rate since the U.S. invasion in 2001, and is expected to rise with the redeployment of troops from Iraq.
Enter Milorad "Rod" Blagojevich. Blagojevich was arrested December 9, 2008 on charges of corruption, including attempts to "sell" Obama's senate seat to the highest bidder. Blagojevich insists he is innocent of all charges and has thus far refused to step down from office, muddying what should otherwise be a relatively simple appointment.
Late December 2008 saw Hamas and Israel take full advantage of the end of a cease-fire agreement by launching bombs and rockets at each other. Israel continues to pound the hell out of Gaza, leaving hundreds dead or wounded despite calls from around the world for Israel to stop the airstrikes.
With George Bush's ever-plummeting approval ratings, calls for his head have been coming fast and furious for months, if not years. For bringing this country to near-ruin and obliterating U.S. foreign relations, criminal prosecution of members of the Bush administration seems to be on the mind of many U.S. citizens, perhaps rightfully so.
Although George W. Bush is still the President of the United States until midday on January 20th, 2009, it is clear that he "checked out" some time ago. Conventional wisdom suggests that U.S. citizens are already looking to President-elect Obama for presidential leadership before he takes the oath of office.
The U.S. and global economy continues in a steady decline, and there's no evidence as of yet to suggest that the now-trillion dollar U.S. banking industry bailout has done anything to benefit the people who are paying for it-U.S. taxpayers.
Pretend for a moment that you are Barack Obama. Where would you start? Would you try to capitalize on the newness and momentum of your incoming administration to promote a cause that seems well-suited for a liberal administration? Would you decide that one prayer is too divisive to be offered by the pastor in question? Which is more pressing: worldwide terrorism or a country on the verge of an economic depression rivaled only by the great depression of the early 20th century? Resolving conflicts between nations that have been at odds with each other for centuries, or mending fences in your own nation? Would you try to fix everything all at once? How would YOU prioritize?
Barack Obama was hired by the citizens of the United States to make these decisions; to prioritize and address pressing issues. Of the many reasons Barack Obama was elected to be the 44th President of the United States, wisdom and compassion rank high on the list. Regardless of whether or not you voted for Barack Obama, one thing is sure: he will become the President of the United States in a matter of days, and his success will be our success. The idiomatic phrase "can't see the forest for the trees" has never been more relevant that it is today. For President Obama to succeed, the citizens of this great nation must not fall into the trap of not being able to "see the forest for the trees."