ALLAN JEFFERYS: Let's Put Aside Our Doubts and Give Obama a Chance
This is the week that brings us a brand-new president. Out with the old, in with the new.
And new it is: the first black president ever, the first Democrat in eight years, an avowed liberal who has promised to soak the rich and see to it that everyone has health coverage. Change is in the wind, and the wind is blowing our way.
I still get anti-Obama e-mails and read anti-Obama essays. Before the election, I forwarded such e-mails and wrote anti-Obama columns. He was obviously not my choice to become the president of the United States. But then, neither was George W. Bush -- or his father.
For that matter, John McCain was not No. 1 on my preferred list either. What does this prove, other than I am not a great predictor of winners? Only that sometimes the right choice does not get nominated. I still favor Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee, but I am not a diehard who continues to beat on that drum.
The election is over, and Barack Obama is about to become our nation's leader. Now is no time to forward negative e-mails. There are, to be sure, still unanswered questions. And red flags abound. Add to that our First Amendment rights and it is understandable that many feel called upon to vent their objections. But let us hold off. Let us grant the hundred-day honeymoon and wait and see.
We almost have to, because Obama so far has been more than an enigma. We know from his voting record in the Senate that his reputation as being ultra-liberal has been earned. Yet his campaign rhetoric and his choice of aides, Cabinet members and staff have been very close to the center -- which, of course, is where the nation stands.
Does this mean that his new position as leader of the free world have nudged him away from the far left? Let us hope so as we wait and see.
It does worry me that he seems to be replicating a Bill Clinton administration, especially with some aide and Cabinet choices. Leon Panetta is a scary example. This former chief of staff in the Clinton White House has zero experience in intelligence, yet now has been dubbed the new head of the CIA. Obama has rejected the Bush approach to that agency, and Panetta seems to solidify that thinking. We can only hope this new approach does not backfire and bring on another 9/11.
There will be some who herald the choice of Clintonians for key spots, pointing out Clinton's balanced budget. The grinning ex-president's standing around the world has made him millions. Impeachment and character don't seem to matter to Dubai.
However, it will take more than a bunch of retread Clinton people to balance a trillion-dollar deficit. The facts are that we are still in the midst of a huge pit in our economy, and some regulations are going to be needed to turn the downward spiral around.
This, then, is no time to raise taxes on dividends and the small business entrepreneurs who can jump-start the job market.
We hope president Obama will recognize this and be willing to backtrack on some of his pre-election ideas. I promise, for one, that I will not consider that flip-flopping.
Our new president faces a daunting future. Housing remains a disaster, bailouts have not solved the banking and automotive woes, more and more industries are queuing up for handouts designed to compensate for incompetence and/or greed, unemployment is far too high, and we are still in wars. The very least we can do is give him some room -- some breathing space -- before we pile on.
Even before he takes office, he has demonstrated a pragmatic approach that bodes well. He has shown a willingness to cut loose some bad choices in former associates. That they have been bad choices is a given. But there is no evidence that they have any open sesame to the Lincoln bedroom, and that is a plus.
Obama's actions in the transition period suggest that he will continue to use that calm, unruffled approach to make decisions that transcend cronyism, and that is a plus. So far, the pluses outweigh the minuses.
Undoubtedly some other unsavory former colleagues will crawl out from under their pet rocks as time goes by. As he did with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Illinois Gov. Blagojevich, et al.
Obama will distance himself from them. He is no longer a Chicago politician, forced to deal with sludge, but a key figure on the world stage. That is as it should be and as it will be.
So let us give him room to grow and let us also distance ourselves from angry rhetoric and accusations.
Let us, instead, hold open the door to the Oval Office and say "Welcome, President Obama."
Allan Jefferys, a former New York theater critic, entertainment editor and newsman, lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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