Thursday, January 22, 2009

Guest post: In with the new...

A guest post on the inauguration of Barack Obama

I wish new president Obama well. I am immensely proud of what America has achieved today (though I am not American myself I always felt like one). Electing a black president is no small feat. And a good president too. Had I had a chance to vote I would have voted McCain for many reasons I will not spend time with now (foreign policy, Iraq, trade above anything else). However, as McCain said in his beautiful concession speech, Obama is now president of all Americans. And so far has conducted himself very well, coolly and calmly and gathered a good team around him. He is starting as a centrist. So because his policies and his position promise well, I indulged myself in the great spectacle of the presidential inauguration. Only in America can they do it like that. Emotional, patriotic, elevating. Obama delivered as well: he is a good orator, a man of character and had a good speech to work with. So well done so far and good luck.

The comments and the reports were not so good though. I think some fawning is allowed, but there are limits. The media treated Obama with kid gloves during the campaign, and we knew it would continue to do so during the very long honeymoon. But what went on whilst watching the news on different channels was a bit much. Little criticism if any at all, high expectations, and already an endless stream of justification for any failure or mistake the president might make in the future. Above all, so the narrative goes, he can always blame his predecessor, and if that predecessor is Bush (W.) then even better.

The treatment of Bush has been incredibly unfair to say the least. But I was expecting some grace from the great and the good of political commentators, newsreaders and the rest of them (the same grace Bush has shown to Obama during the transition – which by the way the Republican handled incredibly professionally compared with how the Democrats behaved in 2001), but almost every commentator enjoyed blaming everything and more on Bush and his policies, whether domestic or foreign. Any intervention started with a variation on the ‘after the disaster of the last eight terrible years’. No recognition of what he has achieved, what he tried to do (and was worth doing) and did not achieve, and what he managed to avoid. The list of successes is not short – to those who can remain objective. Another time I can argue and suggest an explanation why Bush has such a low rating and why most believe he has done so badly. But here I will simply say that I wish the chattering elite and their media spokesmen (and –women) learned from their new hero and give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and stop their childish attacks on the outgoing 43rd president. In time I believe some recognition of his achievements will be finally given, especially if President Obama continues as he has started and does not rashly jettison some of the successful policies undertaken over the past eight years.

So good luck President Obama and God bless you and the great United States of America.

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