Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More of the Same

The benchmark of one hundred days in office is generally regarded as merely a nominal measure of presidential progress, looked upon by most as more of a "Can you believe it's been that long?" than a "Look at how far we've come." However, having just cleared that mark, the Obama administration is already sending some surprising signals to the nation about how far it plans to go - and in what direction.
In a second base-rattling move in the past three months, the administration announced last week it's plans to remain in lock-step with the Bush administration's relaxed policies on climate change. Specifically, Obama surprised many core supporters when it was announced that his Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, would not repeal certain restrictions on the Endangered Species Act that had been put into place by President Bush.
At question were limitations installed by Bush when he was forced to acknowledge the plain fact that global warming was indeed harming the planet, and it's residents. At the center of this issue is the polar bear, and it's rapidly diminishing habitat: polar ice. Forced by mounting pressure from environmental groups, the Bush administration finally conceded, near the end of it's second term, to place the polar bear under the protection of the ESA - but with a twist: The ESA would lose it's mandated ability to curb greenhouse gas emissions, essentially delegating ESA protection as a ceremonial title at best.
Now, for Obama, a president elected on a platform of "change", reversing this policy would seem like a slam-dunk. However, in what is turning out to be a bit of a nasty habit, the president has reversed another ambiguous campaign pledge (to "review" Bush's ESA modifications), and is continuing to uphold some of the most controversial policies of his predecessor.
For environmentalists, this ruling is devastating. It signals a refusal on the part of the president to install actionable policies to curb global warming. However, the most frightening aspect of this decision may just be that it undermines any sort of credibility Obama seeks to cultivate regarding his favorite topic: change. Where it can be argued that the nation's overall expectations of Obama, and his ability to reverse the damage done to this country by a disastrous eight years under Bush, were set too high (though, Obama himself certainly did nothing to dampen these hopes during his campaign and the run up to his inauguration - in fact, quite the opposite), it is perplexing at the least to find that a simple return to the way things were before Bush is seemingly too much to ask.
In retrospect, it can be noted that Bush gave the nation what it expected, supporters and detractors alike. Now it is Obama's turn to deliver on the lofty promises he has laid out before us. Should this recent trend continue, however, it seems likely that the only distinguishing factor between the hundred day intervals of this administration and those of the last will be the abject disappointment we encounter; not in our president, but in the hopes we have placed with him.

1 comment:

  1. This country has not seen this many people supportive of change and a president in at least a generation, if not two.

    Whether or not one looks at this environmental shortcoming, the wars we are still in (I believe he said something about their discontinuation), the exoneration of telecommunications companies, or the unprecedented spending which was never part of the original "change" design, we are all experiencing much of the same. Our friends and family are losing their homes and jobs, and the cost of healthcare is inflating like gas -- large leaps and small shrinks, but still on the rise.

    Disappointment is a subtle term. Betrayed is too angry. Somewhere in between is how I feel with our fallen heroes.

    Perhaps there is a requirement in becoming a president - like having a spouse and children. That way, an organization may make threats of torture and death on the family members to get their way (i.e. maybe he was made to do these things at would-be gunpoint).

    Perhaps he was planning this all along, which would be much more unsettling.

    I hope it is just a case of the plan looking good on the whiteboard and the implementation becoming tougher than anticipated on day 100. If that is the case, perhaps he can turn it around in the next hundred or thousand days.

    No matter the cause of these results, I will be watching carefully.