Change: off to a slow start

John Elizandro

A week into the Obama Administration, the Change We Can Believe In has yet to make itself apparent.

The inauguration itself was underwhelming – a bit of a letdown after months of media hype. The crowd, predicted to be as high as four million, was less than half that. Obama’s speech was not only anti-climatic, but unmemorable, beyond his earnest determination to lower the expectations of his presidency after riding a quasi-Messianic wave into the White House. The crowd, hoping to hear the powerfully moving rhetoric Obama trademarked, was noticeably unmoved and seemed to be just hoping for a respite from the cold. Even the oath of office was flubbed, with Obama and Chief Justice Roberts cutting each other off and jumbling lines.

As it turns out, the Inauguration was typical of the disappointing start to the Obama era. The first hint of this came soon after the election, as Obama stocked his cabinet with a cast of Clinton holdovers. But even beyond that, the Change We Can Believe In was having trouble taking form.

Obama’s cabinet nominees have already encountered difficulties gaining approval from the Senate. Obama’s selection for Commerce Secretary had to withdraw his nomination once it became public that he was the subject of a federal corruption investigation.

Attorney General Eric Holder was associated with a series of ethically dubious pardons occurring at the end of the Clinton Administration, including the pardon of the husband of a major Clinton donor. Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, apparently failed to pay thousands of dollars in taxes. Geithner, allegedly a financial genius, claimed he simply made an innocent mistake. America should be comforted by the knowledge that the man Obama selected to run the Treasury Department and manage the entire system of taxation across the country couldn’t manage to properly pay his own taxes.

Not only have Obama’s personnel choices seemed suspect, but his policy decisions leave something to be desired as well. After spending months on the campaign trail demanding the immediate closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, instead of doing just that, Obama issued an order to “study” the issue and a non-binding promise to close it sometime in the next year. Obama now acknowledges that the issue is “complex” despite the fact that he apparently had no appreciation for its complexity before the election. If any Americans assumed that when Obama clamored for the closure of the base he had any idea what to do with the detainees once it was closed, they seem to have been mistaken.

Obama’s major policy initiative, of course, is what he calls the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. Touted as the way out of the current economic decline, the plan will cost nearly a trillion dollars, straddling our generation with the bill. Obama has used the idea of an “economic stimulus” as a cover for spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on liberal pet projects. Even if the President’s infrastructure spending succeeds in creating jobs in construction, we can all agree that the future of the American economy doesn’t lie in building toll booths and overpasses.

The American people have sky-high expectations, and Obama himself pledged to make his election the moment at which the planet began to heal.

Obama’s decision to launch missiles at terrorist targets in Pakistan was a comforting sign that he takes the fight against terrorism seriously. Perhaps the new administration will find its legs, and the sweeping and dramatic change he has so long promised will positively impact the country, but it is evident that Obama’s first few days in office have been an inauspicious start.


John Elizandro is a freshman business major from Radnor, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].