Good and bad

It’s good that President Obama immediately sought to end the unlawful and undemocratic imprisonment and torture of detainees at Gitmo. That’s a campaign promise I am glad he appears to be keeping.

It’s bad, however, that there appears to be a whisper campaign to keep the extraordinary rendition and “black sites” – policies that put us all in harm’s way and erodes our moral standing in the world community. Don’t give in to the horrible “conventional wisdom”, Mr. Obama!

It’s also bad that the President isn’t moving very fast on closing Gitmo… though that may be a result of the previous administration’s desire to prioritize imprisonment and torture over actually, y’know, accusing people of crimes and then proving their case in a court of law, and leaving behind “a mess” (in more ways than just bureaucracy).

It’s good that Eric Holder has been confirmed by the Senate to be our nation’s top law enforcement officer. Good pick, President Obama! AG Holder has spoken out forcefully against many of the corrupt practices of the previous administration.

It’s bad that President Obama’s nominee for head of the Health Department, Tom Daschle, had to withdraw his nomination because of unpaid taxes. Bad pick, President Obama! I thought that your vetting process was thorough enough to avoid embarrassments like this.

It’s good that President Obama was able to work with Congress to quickly pass the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a progressive bill that restores a bit of equality to our workplaces. Several of the other appointees at DOJ have the appearance of being fiercely opposed to torture, rendition, and abuse of power (I can’t believe that’s even considered controversial – I want my country back, dammit!)

It’s bad that President Obama appears to have been the roadblock to legislation that would have removed the outrageous bonuses to financial executives that have received bailout money (bonuses Mr. Obama has spoken out against, actually). One (public) word from the President would have moved that bill into the Senate.

It’s good that Mr. Obama has given himself and his administration strict ethical limits on things like hiring lobbyists who may have conflicts of interest in performing good governance. That should stop the “revolving door” inside the Beltway.

It’s bad that Mr. Obama has had to seek a waiver so early for as many as four of his appointees (to date). Why impose the rules if you’re not going to live by them?

I could find more, but you get the idea. I’m paying attention, and I’m not just one-hundred-percent pro-Obama. Still, overall, I’m happy with the first weeks of Mr. Obama’s administration. There are good things and bad things.

And I’m discouraged that, for every good thing I can remember, I can find a bad thing to counter it. On the other hand, it seems to me that several of the bad things are of lesser importance than the good things he’s done. Comparing the ending of the torture regime with a bad pick for the Secretary of Health. Even though this list is “balanced” between good and bad things, the overall balance still tips heavily towards the good.