Is the new boss the old boss?
I am mourning the impending loss of Dubya. Who will I rant and rave about now that he’s set to swoop from office? As we know, Bush has been ripping to shreds civil liberties and expanding Presidential powers at the expense of citizens over the last 8 years in the name of the War on Terror. And he’s been usurping Legislative powers and disturbing the balance of powers. Frankly, I continue to be amazed the US Constitution is still standing. If you need a refresher course on the crimes of Bush and his croneys, go here.
I’ve said in previous posts that I’ve been watching Obama carefully. I’m still not won over by him. I worry about anyone who refers to himself as “an instrument of God’s will” coming to power. But my spirits were uplifted when he was on the campaign trail I’ll admit that. Here was someone I thought could usher in “change”. And at least he could string a sentence together unlike Bush.
I did a post recently that looked at whether there is a cult of personality going on around Obama and asking what exactly is Universal Voluntary Public Service? Given the popularity of Obama, I expected to be slammed for this post. Nothing, nada, zippo. No comments left. No fiery emails. I can draw some conclusions from this:
- I have no readers or very few readers.
- No-one cares what I have to say and can’t be bothered leaving a comment. Possible!
- You are waiting (just like I am) to see how the Obama Administration works out
In the interests of saving face, I’ll go with the final option. But today, I want to have a look at some of the criticism that is already being levelled at Obama and why. Mainly, it concerns his backsliding on promises he made on the campaign trail. I guess we need some sympathy for the guy. He’s always struck me as being like an eager, idealistic puppy. And when you’re like that and campaigning for The Prize, you believe you can change things. But when you start getting daily security and briefing reports that tell you the economy is toast, that the US is toast, that the climate is toast – well, guess you may have to renege on some of those promises.
However, the list is getting big. Let’s have a look.
- he vowed to tax the obscene profits of oil companies. That ‘aint happening now as he’s reversed his pledge to tax the pants off them.
- he said that he would withdraw US troops from Iraq but seems he’s gone a bit soft on this pledge. He is saying that there will be a responsible withdrawal over 16 months (but only if advised that this is a safe withdrawal timeframe), yet up to 55,000 troops will be left behind (for training and logistical support). And I don’t hold out much hope for a withdrawal given that Hillary Clinton will be Secretary of State (and voted for war in Iraq) and Robert Gates continues on as defense secretary. And Obama’s talking about sending more troops to Afghanistan.
- he is a supporter of “clean coal” (how the heck is coal ever clean?) – not something we need when we’re facing climate change and really should be finding alternative energy sources.
- and where are the Liberal Democrats in his Cabinet? I’m still looking.
But here’s the thing that really has me worried. At a time when Federal funding for scientific research has taken a battering, Obama made an election pledge to double Federal funding for basic research in the sciences; he promised to strengthen maths and science education; and work to increase the number of science and engineering graduates. Obama has already made some smart appointments, showing that he is supportive of science: Harvard physicist, John Holdren, as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Steven Chu, a Nobel prizewinner, to the Department of Energy.
So why choose a Creationist to deliver the religious ritual at your Inauguration? Obama has asked Rick Warren, a pretty extremist, celebrity pastor who wrote the bestseller The Purpose Driven Life, to deliver the invocation on January 20. This is what Warren stands for:
- he opposes gay marriage (so I guess Hope and Change is not about accepting diversity) and has compared homosexuality to pedophilia.
- he does not believe in Evolution. In fact, his grasp of science and paleontology is a bit suspect for he states that “The Bible’s picture is that dinosaurs and man lived together on the earth”. Obviously, he’s from the scientific creationism school of thought, which believes a literal interpretation of the Bible is scientifically demonstrable. But the fossil record shows that humans appeared on Earth millions of years after Dino dinosaurs went kaput. Scientific creationists apparently believe that human and dinosaur footprints have appeared side by side, ergo man and Dino lived happily together on this planet. Given that Obama has pledged to promote and support science, I must say inviting an extreme creationist to deliver the invocation is an odd choice and smacks of the continuing influence of the religious right.
- worse: Warren has compared abortion to the Holocaust. So I guess he is equating women who have abortions with Nazis. He also believes that Jews will burn in Hell.
I have no issue with Obama picking a Christian minister to deliver the blessing stuff. But I would have thought a Christian leader who represented what Obama seems to stand for (ie progress, change, moderation, inclusion) would have been a better choice and sent a better signal. The Prez-elect is saying that he holds views that are contrary to Warren’s on gay rights and abortion. And that “During the course of the entire inaugural festivities, there are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented. And that’s how it should be, because that’s what America is about. That’s part of the magic of this country is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated”. Mmmm…you would think that Obama of all people might be sensitive enough to understand what it means to be discriminated against and would take a stand against discrimination in all its forms. So I’m thinking that choosing Warren to pray over the POTUS is a dumb start to the new Administration given its historical significance.