After $10 trillion dollars in debt, a badly botched and unnecessary war in Iraq, a poorly executed and necessary war in Afghanistan, the appalling incompetence in responding to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the gratuitous alienation of nearly every other country on the planet, and an economic collapse not seen since the days of the Great Depression, the reign of the worst President in America’s modern history is finally coming to an end.
When George W. Bush leaves office on January 20th he will do so with the lowest approval rating of any President in history. However it was not just the incompetence of the Bush administration that made it so horrifying it was also its mendacity. No one better epitomised this than Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Cheney was the man who, when charged with selecting George W’s running mate as Vice-President, selected himself - a very American coup. This despite the fact he had serious heart issues (and I am not referring to his profound lack of empathy) that made him unsuitable for serving as V.P.
As V.P. it was Cheney who filtered the information that President Bush received, who fabricated intelligence data and along with others in the Bush Administration ripped up the Geneva Convention by instructing the use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners. They also suspended habeas corpus allowing for the indefinite imprisonment of people without charges being laid or any sort of court trial. Last but not least they made a mockery of America’s cherished civil liberties by passing the thoroughly Orwellian Patriot Act.
Incoming President Barack Hussein Obama certainly has his work cut out for him. Fortunately President elect Obama is not only the first African American elected President, he is also one of the most intelligent men to ever be elected to such a high office. If anyone can get the US out of the economic, political, and military quagmire the Bush administration put it into, President Obama can.
The brilliantly executed Obama Presidential campaign was a triumph on many levels but perhaps nowhere was it more important than in showing that the politics of hope could trump the politics of fear. Change has come to America and not a moment too soon.
The size of Obama’s victory means that if they choose to Democrats can push ahead with ensuring universal health insurance coverage for all of its citizens. The neglected levees, bridges and other crumbling infrastructure in the United States can and must be addressed.
Public spending in these sorts of areas will enable the United States to more quickly recover from the current recession and help avert a slide into full scale economic depression.
Extricating the United States as quickly as possible from Iraq and providing enough of a troop surge in Afghanistan to stabilise that country prior to withdrawing in another few years would enable the residents of both the United States and the Middle East enjoy some sort of return to stability and normalcy by the end of Obama’s first term as President.
Finally, as the economy recovers and the troops come home from the Middle East, the re-imposition of some sort of fiscal responsibility should also allow the United States to begin recovering from its disastrous fiscal crises.
In terms of Canada the best thing Obama can do is resist any impulse by protectionists to increase the trade barriers between our two nations. Lastly he should recognize that he starts his Presidency with a tremendous amount of goodwill from Canadians and most other citizens around the world. It is my expectation that he will not lightly squander it.
Mike Geoghegan is a government relations consultant who lives in Victoria, B.C. He can be reached via his website at www.mgcltd.ca