Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Great Expectations

Reading today's New York Times, I was struck by the number of columns critical of present status on matters of import. David Brooks ('Something for Nothing',on the ill health of health care reform'), Bob Herbert ('Who Are We', on the failure to fully address the abuses linked to the War on Terror) and the Editorial Staff ('Afghanistan's Failing Forces', on the present and future troubles in a troublesome region) forced me to take a hard look at where we are five months into the new administration.

Much of what I find fails to match the dreams I had on January 20. In no particular order of import, it appears to me that:

1. Health care reform - This seems to be one more massive episode of Congressional stumbling and bumbling. The anticipated deficits relating to any reform appear to be escalating, as the discussion gets bogged down in the nonsensical question of whether the government should even be permitted to present a public option for insurance.

2. Financial reform - It seems that the "too big to fail" have shrugged off the momentary loss of control and are now back to the same old, same old, with little "interference" by their Uncle Sam. The new "restraints" appear more pretense than reality.

3. Credit card reform - Another of the window dressing areas, where we work with the old system and make changes around the edges, rather than attack the problem at its core.

4. Gay Rights - While advocating equal rights, the administration has taken inconsistent and often puzzling positions on this issue.

5. Human Rights - There has been an almost non-existent examination of past violations by the Bush regime. So too, while decrying the atrocities relating to torture, we have stumbled relating to the release or prosecution of the detainees and have endorsed "extended detentions" without charges.

6. Stabilizing the economy - While we were told that the worse case scenario was unemployment at somewhere around 8% this year, it looks like the march to 10% and above is inevitable.

7. Supreme Court - Is Judge Sotomayor the best answer to the ultra conservative wing of the bench? It certainly doesn't appear to be the case.

8. Diplomacy - We all look for discussion leading to a relaxation of tensions but North Korea appears in no mood to talk, and we have yet to see a real breakthrough in any arena.

9. De-escalation - As we move away from involvement in Iraq, troop buildup and an increase of casualties looms in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Indiscriminate bombing and civilian casualties, which we hoped was a thing of the past, are still with us.

This is not to lay the blame for these problems at the feet of the President. It just appears that reality has seemed to bump up against great expectations, and the hoped for results have not yet materialized.

I am not giving up, not by a long shot. I just have to be patient and hope that at the end of 2009, some of those dreams of January 20 have come true.

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