Monday, January 18, 2010

Mr. Obama and his first year.

Once again, Andrew Sullivan seems to sum up my points. I recommend everyone read his excellent blog post on the subject.

I am still enamoured with Barack Obama. He's done everything I hoped he would do in office, and his hand has been ever so steady on the tiller. Through bank failures and tea parties and exploding briefs, he's kept the US on a straight, sensible course. He's issued a withdrawal from Iraq. He's kept his promise on giving Afghanistan one last kick at the can, and not hanging his NATO allies out to dry. He's made some small steps forward on LGBT rights, if not all of them (I have faith he will eventually repeal DADT, I still do, yes I do!).

He's slowed and probably ended the global recession. Not just with his stimulus, but by coordinating the largest international spending plan ever with the G20 nations. He's won the Nobel Peace Prize - not because he was a leader of a peace conference or a great icon for decades, but because his very inauguration crept us away from the brink of eternal war with the Islamic world. Al Qaeda's reputation in that world is soiled and damaged, thanks to Obama's careful handling of many situations.

Yes, there have been some failures, and many difficulties, but Obama inherited a difficult job from an inept leader who had been unable to handle the situations he was so misfortunately handed. Overall, I think President Obama has been quite a good one, certainly better than George W. Bush, probably better than Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush as well. We shall now see how his second year fares.

Good luck, sir.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Founding Fathers of the USA

Okay, everyone has heard about Sarah Palin's interview with Glenn Beck, and the question Beck asked her on the Founding Fathers, basically saying which is your favourite. Palin responded with "all of them", much as she did with the Couric interview during the 2008 Presidential campaign, before eventually she narrowed it down to George Washington, because he was the leader of the Founding Fathers, and this seems to have gotten her out of a bit of the trouble she was in.

As Glenn Beck said: bullcrap.

American civics should teach us that George Washington was certainly a Founding Father, but he had little to do with the actual foundation of the USA from a political standpoint, being that he was somewhat busy actually fighting the war against the British. There's a reason Washington's name isn't on the Declaration of Independence - he had nothing to do with it. The Articles of Confederation? Washington was again in the field when they were written and had little to do with them (except for requesting that the Continental Congress insert provisions allowing for a strong control of the Continental Army). Washington was not an author of the Constitution nor of the Bill of Rights, though he was a delegate to the convention creating the former and President during the creation of the latter.

Indeed, he was chosen as the first President because his term as Commander of the Continental Army gave him significant recognition and respect throughout the United States, and there was a confidence in him from North and South that would not be held again by a single president for a long time. If you want to look at the people who actually held the true political power during the American Revolution (I *refuse* to call it a War of Independence), I suggest you examine men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Harrison, Benjamin Rush, and, Edward Rutledge, and above all others, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. These men were part of the internal struggle to create the United States, and their stories are rather more important than the story of George Washington, who served at the pleasure of the aforementioned politicians.

George Washington may have defined what it means to be President, Mrs. Palin (something about which I believe you know very little), but Adams, Jefferson, Franklin et. al created the United States. Her answer was wholly a terrible one, showcasing how little she knows about American history. Washington was willing to serve as President, but humbled by his selection for a post that was half ceremonial at the time. George Washington didn't have a quarter of the power today's President has, and his Cabinet consisted of himself and four secretaries, not 15 secretaries and 7 Cabinet-level officials. Not even the Vice President was welcome in Cabinet under Washington, nor for many years thereafter.

Indeed, as Palin said, Washington served but two terms as President of his own volition, returning to end his life at his Mount Vernon estate. However, it should be remembered that Washington never wanted to be President anyway, nor run for any public office. He didn't want salary. He didn't even want to run the Continental Army. Yes, he served best because he had to, not because he wanted to - there was no equal for Washington as General in 1775, just as there was no equal for him as President in 1789 - but Mrs. Palin does herself a great disservice by pretending to share the same characteristics. George Washington was a truely honourable man who would never be considered for office in today's political world. In order to gain elected post now, you must be aggressive, distrustful, deceitful, and possessed of an ego larger than life, of which Washington was none, making him an entirely better man than all who have served since.

And those who want to serve, need and crave to be in the public's eye, like the idiotic broken mess of a woman that is Sarah Palin.

As an aside, I hate how only Sarah Palin seems to be able to motivate me to blog nowadays.