Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Uneasy Honeymoon with Obama

Let me begin by saying that I didn't vote for Obama. There were things I liked about him, but there were things that made me nervous, too. Some of the things that made me nervous I can articulate...his obvious attraction to bigger government as a means of solving our country's ills, for one. The mere idea of putting federal employees in charge of medical care for our citizens, for instance, made my blood run cold. Can you imagine the bourgeoning bureaucracy? The time-honored inefficiency? The wasted tax dollars? (Think U.S. Postal Service...) Let's face it. The dreaded HMO experience would pale in comparison.

Other things that worried me about Obama were a little harder to define, but his relative lack of a record was high on my list, along with his early ties to a few less-than-impressive characters. Yes, I had the effrontery to be bothered by the ranting Reverend and the far-left friends from Chicago, even though MSNBC blithely reassured me, in its inimitably unbiased way, that my concerns were unfounded. 

Still, taking all of these things into consideration, as well as my political leanings, I seriously considered voting for Obama. He was calm, intelligent, reasonable, and well-spoken. He represented someone who might be able reach out to Muslims in a way no other president ever had. He seemed like he might be a good negotiator, both inside and outside of our country. 

The thing is, I wasn't overly enamored of McCain as a candidate either, though I did admire his obvious devotion to our country and felt pretty comfortable with his record and his past willingness to act in a bipartisan manner. I did not admire his choice of a vice presidential candidate, however, nor did I feel that his advancing years were in his favor. I also worried that he was not, by nature, diplomatic enough to enhance foreign relations at such a dicey time in our history. He was surely no great shakes at talking about the economy, though I hoped he would bring in excellent advisors and really listen to them.

But McCain lost, and my point is that when President Obama won, I was neither thrilled nor disappointed. I was happy in some ways and unhappy in others. In short, there was enough ambiguity to leave room for an uneasy honeymoon, and that's where I am today. I want Obama to succeed. He's the president of our country, and I am hoping against hope he'll be a good one, because we need a good one. In fact, we need a phenomenal one right about now.

Today, my reviews are mixed. I like the way he's gotten right down to business, the way he handles and presents himself, the way he treats his family. I like that he's at least going through the motions of crossing the aisle to involve Republicans. (The jury is still out for me on whether "going through the motions" is all he's doing...but for now, I'm keeping an open mind...even though he chose Rom Emmanuel, a highly partisan fellow, for his chief-of-staff.) I'm as surprised as anyone to say that I like his choice of Hilary Clinton, whose foreign policy chops impressed me during the campaign. Besides, she's smart as a whip.

As for policy, so far I support President Obama's efforts to improve our image in the Middle East, including giving his first formal interview to a Saudi Arabian TV station. That statement of respect certainly can't hurt anything, and might even make a few inroads. I also approve of George Mitchell having been dispatched to address the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. The world can't just ignore it, and that means we can't either.

I don't support the "economic stimulus" package, at least, not in its present form. I sincerely hope that Obama will listen to Republican input with an open mind today, because there is not enough direct stimulus in that package to get things rolling again. If we're going to spend big money here, let's at least spend it effectively. (Contraception, for example, is a bit of a stretch for me.) I'm all about tax relief for small business owners (otherwise known as "job-makers"), and I'm completely against tax relief that results in tax refunds for those who haven't paid any. Most of all, I want to see some major oversight by a real stickler to make sure our tax dollars go where they are allocated. (The bailout funds to date seem to have been poorly monitored, if at all.) That drives me crazy.

My biggest fear about Obama is that he will turn out to be too much of an idealist and not enough of a pragmatist. Usually I like idealism. I still do, in fact, but a president must have an overriding sense of and commitment to what will actually work. When you're dealing with cynical world leaders (or self-serving senators, for that matter), you have to at least be able to put yourself in their shoes...even if you wouldn't want to stand in them. You have to be able to perceive their motivations and machinations and then make a practical decision about what you (and the country) can live with. Hopefully, what you can live with will be something that works.

I love my country, and I want the best for it. Time will tell if Obama's presidency will be something I can live with. To tell the truth, I guess that depends a lot on whether Obama's presidency turns out to be something that works.


Natalie said...

AMEN!!! Love it Sue, love it!

Amy Boyack said...

Sue, you have a gift for words. I really like your writing style. I seldom read such a post from start to finish, but you had me captivated. I worry about our country's future as well. I pray for our leaders, too.

Raimi said...

Very well said! I did not vote for him either but I could not help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride as I watched him be sworn in to office as the next President of the United States. Just remember to keep him in our prayers.


mtcattitudeofgratitude.blogspot.com said...

I feel the same way. We will keep him in our prayers and hope that the Republican Senators and Congressmen will act as a check for him. I hope he will be inspired!

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