January 20, 2009

President Obama's Inauguration

In a day worthy of celebration whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, Barack Obama was sworn in today as the 44th President of the United States. Below is the video of his swearing in and inaugural address:

Obama takes office amid crisis at home and abroad. Two separate wars in the Middle-East have strained our vital military resources. Al-Qaida, in defiance of Western intervention in the region, continues to garner new recruits and plot violence against the Western world. Unrest in Israel and the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank has threatened the stability of the entire Middle-East. And at home, economic recession and heightened unemployment has put a tremendous strain on American families.

Exogenous events often catalyze shifts in Presidential power. With our world in such turmoil, Obama will have the prerogative to chart a new course and stamp his place in history.

January 9, 2009

So Barack Obama's A Wacky Leftist, huh?

If you're at all like Crazy McCain Lady and believed all the rhetoric spewed during the 2008 Presidential Campaign, then you might be surprised to see that President-elect Obama doesn't seem in a rush to tack our country to the political far left (he's also not an Arab, by the way). This despite a very comfortable victory for Obama that also saw Democrats pick up vast majorities in both houses of Congress.

In 1932, FDR toppled incompetent incumbent Herbert Hoover in a landslide (472-59 in the electoral college). FDR used his electoral mandate to repudiate Hoover's
laissez-faire policies and usher in a new era of Keynsian economic policy, marked by dramatic increases in state spending and creation of social programs to stimulate economic growth.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson rode a massive wave of public sympathy over JFK's assassination to victory in the Presidential race, defeating Barry Goldwater with 61% of the popular vote. He used that mandate to implement his Great Society - a set of liberal policies and reforms designed to eliminate poverty and racial injustice, which tacked the country further left.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan cruised to a very lopsided victory on a road paved by Teddy Kennedy, after the Massachusetts Senator took incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter to the wire in a heated Primary campaign. Reagan ushered in a new era of supply-side economics, characterized by massive deregulation and a slashing of income and capital gains tax rates (including the marginal income tax rate from 70% to 28% by 1986). Reagan's restructuring of US economic policy was perhaps a consequence of the prevailing winds at the time (as the supply-side theory gained momentum), but Reagan also claimed a mandate by interpreting his margin of victory during a time of stagflation as a repudiation by the public of liberal economic policies.

Each of these Presidents used large margins of victory to justify the introduction of new paradigms into public policy, each leading to fundamental ideological shifts in our political landscape. But while "change" was a key theme of Obama's campaign, at this point it is not apparent that Obama is driven by an unwavering political ideology that will see him tack us back to the left.

First, days after his election win, Obama announced that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates would maintain his post under the new Administration. Gates, who enjoys fairly widespread bipartisan support but isn't exactly considered the messiah by antiwar activists, was selected by President Bush to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary in 2006. Obama also announced last month that proposed tax increases for those making over $200,000 per year may be delayed in an effort to stimulate economic growth. This move has infuriated liberals, who see such tax increases as necessary both to finance Obama's domestic agenda and to ease the ballooning federal budget deficit (currently at around $450 billion...and counting).

So, despite an electoral mandate and an allied majority in both the House and Senate, the President-elect thus far has straddled the political center, reaching to both sides while keeping the ideologues at bay. We'll see how long the spirit of bipartisanship holds, but in the meantime, it may be that Obama isn't quite the champion of the political left that many thought during the campaign.

Oh, as for the picture above, I just couldn't help myself. Let's hope that, since Crazy McCain Lady has read so much about Obama, she stumbles across this blog.