Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Day After

Yesterday was inauguration day. I was hoping to watch some of the historic events on TV and our company graciously allowed us to see some of it on our breaks (it was streamed into some of our conference rooms via the Internet and shown on screens with projectors) but we had somewhat of an emergency in the Software Department and I was limited to seeing only some of the preparations leading up to the swearing in and a few minutes of Mr. Obama's speech. I got to see replays of a lot of the action on the news last night and I read the full text of the speech on the Internet. I've read a few reports about the inauguration, too. I do feel that yesterday's inauguration was a historic event. Both because Mr. Obama is the first African-American President and because he takes office under such bad conditions. That's why I title this article, "The Day After". It was nice to see and read about the pomp and excitement of yesterday. It was heartening to see such an intelligent and motivated man become our President. It was thrilling to see the size and enthusiasm of the crowds. But today, the day after, the real work begins.

We're in a real financial crisis. We are in two wars - in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our country is at odds with many other powerful countries in the world. The Middle East is in one of its swings on the "troubling" end of the scale (where the "good" side of the scale seems to top out at "all the countries' armies are within their own borders") as Israel has withdrawn from Gaza after fighting with Hamas over their sending rockets into Israel. India and Pakistan are accusing each other of wanting to go to war because India accuses Pakistan of allowing terrorists to attack Mumbai. While Mr. Obama's speech stressed the need for everyone to pull together to help get through these problems, I worry that people in this country have been forced into a state of subservience to the government's running of everything.

Isn't that ironic? The party in power for the last eight years is the party that wants smaller government. Yet, they tore into anyone who questioned them. They refused to account for their actions. They acted like they knew what was best for us and we could just butt out. They felt they didn't have to answer to anyone. I don't think (at least I hope) this is not the attitude of the entire party. I think it was just the people who were in charge for the last eight years. They are gone. Can we learn to all get involved in our national concerns again? It is going to be a long, hard road.

In a way, I think we have Mr. Bush and his people to thank for Mr. Obama being the new President. If the Bush years had not been as wrenching and painful, perhaps the voters would not have been as willing to elect the first African-American President. If the Bush administration had not been as arrogant and unable to meet problems head on, would the voters have been as willing to elect a man with as little elected office experience as Mr. Obama? I'm not sure. All I know is thatthere has been a welcome change. I am hopeful. I now feel we have a thoughtful man as President. I now feel that we have a man who knows how to make decisions after getting all the facts instead of Mr. Bush who always seemed to have his mind made up before any decision. Mr. Bush talked as if his single mindedness was a virtue. Mr. Bush acted as if "sticking to his principles" and not changing his mind were ethical conduct. As for me, I'm glad we have a leader who, when the situation changes or the facts point in a different direction, has the ability to change course. You don't keep the steering wheel in one position when the road ahead is a curve.

I just realized the other day that Barack Obama is the first President in my lifetime who is younger than me. I'm 57 (soon to be 58) and he is 47. How did he gets so much done with ten fewer years to do it? I could say that about a lot of young people but this is an exceptional case. I have a hard time organizing my desk but this young guy is now the most powerful man in the world. I wish you well, Barack Obama. The hopes of the entire country (and perhaps much of the World) are with you but our hopes are also depending on you.

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