January 1, 2009
With the inauguration of President-Elect Barack Obama just weeks away, it seems a fitting time to examine both the Bush administration and the handling of the transition from both sides of the aisle.
Although few people will agree with everything every administration does, there is something to be said for commitment and consistency. President Bush showed a firm determination to follow the ideology in which he believed. While I believe he would have shown more respect for the electorate by being responsive to their interests and beliefs, in politics there is something to be said for consistency. We have seen far too many politicians say one thing and do another, and at the very least Bush has been clear on his agenda even in the face of massive opposition and that agenda was based on a core set of values that he proclaimed from the beginning.
President-Elect Obama would do well to learn one lesson from the current administration and that is that he was elected to act on the principles he espoused during the campaign. While I hope he recognizes that compromises will need to be made in order to govern, he should remain true to the openness and promise that voters supported in him.
Transitions are difficult in the best of times and we have seen ones that work well (Bush 41 to Clinton) and those that haven’t (Clinton to Bush 43). This year, in these most contentious of times, it would appear that both sides have made every effort to ensure that the American people are being well served. I know just how difficult these weeks can be. At such an important time in foreign and domestic policy, both Bush and Obama have handled the process remarkably well.
Obama has delicately walked the line between knowledge and power. While he has been careful to point out that there is only one president at a time, he has also made it clear that he is ready to take over the minute he takes the oath of office. His statements, announcements and appearances have adeptly balanced the need to begin appearing presidential while also allowing Bush to finish his term.
For his part, and with all that is happening both economically and in the Middle East, Bush has kept Obama close to ensure that he is well-informed. It is a very careful balance and the president would appear to be giving Obama all the information he needs to be able to assume that role, but with no confusion as to who is president of the United States, and that is good public service.
As citizens of New Jersey look with interest on the possible transfer of power that our state could have in 2009, this transition has been an example of good governance on both sides.
There is no doubt that this period has been significant for the world as well as for our country. It is a window that many around the world see as the moment in which to act without compromising or provoking a strong response from either American Administration. Vice-President-Elect Joe Biden was right on one thing – Obama will be tested early in his presidency. Between the Middle East turmoil and the economic crisis at home, he has much to handle from day one. For the sake of our nation and the world, I wish him the very best.