November 22, 2008

The Times They Are a-Changin

George Packer writes in the New Yorker blogs:

Quote of the Night from November 4th (via Alex Ross): “I was born in 1941. That was the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. I’ve been living in darkness ever since. It looks like things are going to change now.”

That said ... it's easy to get caught up in Obama-mania with the fervent (and must I add illogical) hope that he is really THE ONE to lead us out of every mess we are in today - political, economic, environmental, world peace, and so on and so forth - (I think his third book is going to be titled "The Weight of Expectations")

But like the conservative writer David Brooks, "tremendously impressed by the Obama transition", writes

Believe me, I’m trying not to join in the vast, heaving O-phoria now sweeping the coastal haute bourgeoisie. But the personnel decisions have been superb. The events of the past two weeks should be reassuring to anybody who feared that Obama would veer to the left or would suffer self-inflicted wounds because of his inexperience. He’s off to a start that nearly justifies the hype.

Indeed! Obama continues to impress me, despite high expectations I have set him. In fact, I try very hard to not get swayed and blind to his faults and look at everything he says/does with a grain of salt and play devil's advocate. And yet....he continues to impress!

I am sure his detractors will come up with some argument that this shows he is not adjusting to the changing realities (or some such nonsense) but this excerpt here is another example where Obama speaks logically and rationally and not like a politician who puts his fingers up in the air to see which way the wind is blowing before he speaks!

Obama on the ‘Shock to Trance’ Energy Pattern

by Andrew Revkin

When President-elect Barack Obama was interviewed on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, he seemed to stick with his campaign pledge to press ahead with an energy quest (scale to be determined) whether or not it is politically correct. His answers on energy reminded me of what some people perceived as a defining moment during the presidential race, when — in the heat of the “drill here, drill now” summer — Mr. Obama split with Senator John McCain and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton over the need for a “gas tax holiday” in the face of spiking prices at the pump.

Here’s the moment (from the CBS transcript):

Steve Kroft: When the price of oil was at $147 a barrel, there were a lot of spirited and profitable discussions that were held on energy independence. Now you’ve got the price of oil under $60.

Mr. Obama: Right.

Mr. Kroft: Does doing something about energy, is it less important now than….?

Mr. Obama: It’s more important. It may be a little harder politically, but it’s more important.

Mr. Kroft: Why?

Mr. Obama: Well, because this has been our pattern. We go from shock to trance. You know, oil prices go up, gas prices at the pump go up, everybody goes into a flurry of activity. And then the prices go back down and suddenly we act like it’s not important, and we start, you know, filling up our S.U.V.’s again. And, as a consequence, we never make any progress. It’s part of the addiction, all right. That has to be broken. Now is the time to break it.

BRILLIANT! More power (no pun intended) to him!

The Presidency and the Climate Challenge
Readers to Obama: 10 Earthly Ideas on a Budget

I hope his administration is successful in at least some of the many good things he has promised; the expectations have been set really high and while he may fail sometimes, I hope the media and talking heads all don't sense blood and get into a feeding frenzy and tear him apart. Patience, less politics, more goal-oriented focused efforts will help the US (and the world) dig out of the hole we are in (on many fronts).

Also, this excerpt from the same CBS interview (emphasis mine)

Mr. Kroft: Are you gonna make a lot of speeches? Are you gonna talk a lot to the American people on television and radio?

Mr. Obama: You know, I’m not sure that the American people are looking for a lot of speeches. I think what they’re looking for is action. But one of the things that I do think is important is to be able to explain to the American people what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. That is something that I think every great president has been able to do. From FDR to Lincoln to John Kennedy to Eisenhower. I mean, I think that they were people who were able to say ‘Here’s the direction we’re going. Here’s why I think it’s important. Here are the possible dangers or challenges. But ultimately, you know, this is gonna lead us to a better America.’ And I want to make sure that I can recreate a bond of trust between the presidency and the public that I think has been lost.

Someone I talked to earlier this week thought Obama is inexperienced and so probably lacks the ability to pool resources and bring about real change. The strong team he has put together (see David Brooks article mentioned above!) suggests he has shown the ability to tap into the right resources to overcome any lack of experience he may have. To the detractors who think Obama has seduced us all with his words and oratory and find it unlikely Obama was going to make any big change, I say patience please! Let us at least give the man a chance before we pre-judge him as a failure. Last I checked it was still a Bush government in charge, though there have been couple op-ed pieces that suggest he should just get out of the way and let the Obama administration start working! I agree with people saying that they will only believe Obama when he backs his talk with words and action and gets things done despite the tough quagmires we are all stuck in! But somehow I have hope that he will act. Talking heads can fill their TV time between now and January mouthing off and analyzing Obama's every move before he even gets to work - prematurely judging him before he even gets inaugurated as President - but nothing so far suggests there is reason to sway away from our 'audacity of hope' and so, hope I will!

P.S. Meanwhile, Bush continues handing out gifts to the oil industry even as they head out!

Earlier this week the Bush administration announced another parting gift for Big Oil in the form of new oil shale regulations. What America, and the world, really needs is investment in clean energy solutions -- like plug-in cars -- that will reduce our dependence on oil. Instead, the Bush administration has chosen to invest taxpayer subsidies in a dirty fuel with production operations that would destroy wildlife habitat, increase greenhouse gas emissions, and suck up limited water resources. About two million acres of public land are at stake -- land that belongs to all Americans.

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