So as the Obama administration rolls forward, what are we learning? Foremost, that President Obama is not afraid to be the winner. He signed a series of executive orders, some controversial. We also learned about 74 hours after he took the oath that he faced down a Republican Senator by reminding the Senator that he, Obama, won the election. Elections have consequences.
The President understands, probably more than his immediate predecessors, the political and governmental importance of maintaining momentum and keeping together the average people who got him into the White House. He sent out an email thanking them for being part of the inauguration, saying to them, "I'm counting on you to keep the spirit of unity and service alive."
In the "Grow Up" Department:
The President is often ahead of some of his own supporters when it comes to how to govern. The people on the extreme left, like the people on the extreme right, might want to think of themselves as simply passionate about their positions, or even simply honest or right, but too often they are divisive and hateful. The Obama supporters who gave former President George Bush the finger as he flew off in the Marine helicopter are a case in point. So, too, are the bloggers on the right who this week wrote sentences such as, "Carter is a depen(d)s wearing moron" and "Carter and Clinton are horse's patoots in that order." There is a way to be justifiably critical that is far more effective and less divisive.
In the "Oh They Do Gush" Department:
The emotional responses to the new administration extend overseas. Note the "Der Spiegel" reporter who wrote that now "The U.S. has its groove back."
While unity and "a big step toward realizing the dream" were the main words and themes heard on the mall and in family rooms and offices this week by those recognizing part of the historical importance of the Obama swearing-in, one of the most visual and insightful lines that puts that part in perspective comes from an African-American woman who said, "The hands that picked cotton are now picking politicians."
In the "What Do They Really Mean To Do Department or the "Don't Lose Jack Bauer's Cell Number Yet" Department:
President Obama issued an Executive Order on how interrogations are to be conducted. On the surface, and perhaps in how it will be carried out, it revokes the Bush administration policies which included allowing waterboarding. However, the Order is written in such a way as to leave open different, albeit less likely, alterations. Under "Mission", for example:
(e) Mission. The mission of the Special Task Force shall be:
(i) to study and evaluate whether the interrogation practices and techniques in Army Field Manual 2 22.3, when employed by departments or agencies outside the military, provide an appropriate means of acquiring the intelligence necessary to protect the Nation, and, if warranted, to recommend any additional or different guidance for other departments or agencies;
In other words, it's possible the CIA might have to do something some folks wouldn't approve of. Let us get back to you on that.