EDITORIAL: Where will President Obama take America?
by Peter Westmore
News Weekly, February 7, 2009
President Obama's key political appointments and early executive decisions have provided unmistakable signs of the direction his Administration is likely to take.
The pomp and ceremony surrounding the inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States has been unprecedented — not only in America, but throughout the rest of the world.
In part, this is because Obama is the first black American to hold the office, an extraordinary achievement given the dominance of the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) establishment over public life in the US since the American War of Independence in the late 18th century.
Obama's election confirmed that whatever its problems, the United States is truly a nation of opportunity. In one sense, his presidency marks the final triumph of the civil rights movement which won political equality for black Americans in the 1960s.
He is also a powerful orator, whose capacity to inspire voters was shown repeatedly in securing the Democratic Party's nomination against Hillary Clinton, the candidate favoured by the party's power-brokers, and in defeating the Republican candidate, John McCain, in last November's presidential election.
Another important factor in the media's adulation of Obama is that his left-liberal views coincide with those of much of the media.
It is these views which will be of most concern to Australians, as 2009 unfolds.
Some of these were articulated by George F. Will, perhaps America's leading conservative columnist, who nevertheless endorsed Obama in 2008. In an article in Newsweek magazine, Will challenged Obama over his policy of appointing activist judges, his opposition to the appointment of a respected "black letter" judge, John Roberts, as Chief Justice of the United States, his attacks on corporate profits which are essential to employment growth, and his support for increased capital gains tax and affirmative action legislation. (Newsweek, May 5, 2008).
For many people outside the United States, of more concern is Obama's strong support, and that of his new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, for gay marriage and the abortion and population control activities favoured by United Nations agencies, and for the radical left environmental agenda promoted by former US Vice-President, Al Gore.
In one of his first executive decisions, Obama announced support for UN population control activities, including abortion.
It was highly significant that, just days before the United States was blanketed in the coldest weather for 15 years, Hillary Clinton began her confirmation speech before the US Senate with the statement describing global warming as an "unambiguous security threat" to the United States. Barack Obama has declared that combating global warming is a top priority in his administration.
The new President vowed to take steps to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 80 per cent below that by 2050 via a cap-and-trade program (similar to that proposed by Professor Ross Garnaut in Australia, and endorsed by the Rudd Government). "Delay is no longer an option," he declared. "Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high, the consequences too serious."
Obama's appointees to the key posts of Energy Secretary and Director of the Environmental Protection Authority have endorsed this position.
In her Senate confirmation hearing, Hillary Clinton also made clear that in pursuit of "women's rights", she would reverse the Bush Administration's policy of refusing to bankroll the UN Population Fund, which pays for the UN's abortion campaigns in developing countries and supports China's legally enforced policy of restricting families to a single child through enforced abortions.
Further concerns arise over those nominated for other key posts. President Obama has appointed Carol Browner, until recently a member of the Socialist International, his top environmental adviser, and Eric Holder, another former Clinton staffer, as his Attorney-General.
Holder was widely criticised for his role in President Clinton's decision to give a presidential amnesty to fugitive financier, Marc Rich, and an earlier decision to give pardons to 16 imprisoned members of a Puerto Rica terrorist group, FALN, who had been convicted in the US of conspiracy to commit robbery, bomb-making and sedition, as well as for firearms and explosives offences.
Obama has also run into trouble over his nomination of Timothy Geithner as his Treasury Secretary, after it was revealed that Mr Geithner, a New York banker, had failed to pay $34,000 in taxes after working for the International Monetary Fund.
Obama's economic policy of massive increases in government spending and tax cuts is no more likely to work than similar policies by the Bush Administration.
In fact, the latest reports indicate that Citibank, which has received $US45 billion from the Bush Administration and purchased two troubled financial giants, Countrywide and Merrill Lynch, is facing a new solvency crisis. Should we be surprised that Citibank was the largest single donor to Obama's inauguration fund?
— Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.