Barack Hussein Obama may have danced the night away with his wife on Tuesday’s inauguration extravaganza but on Wednesday he wasted no time rolling up his sleeves and getting to work trying to reverse George W. Bush’s eight years of damage to the American psyche.
Actually, the change started while the Obamas watched the parade on Pennsylvania Avenue on Tuesday. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanual ordered federal agencies to stop all work in implementing the flood of new regulations signed by Bush in his last days in office. The new administration will review each of those new regs.
On Wednesday, Obama told the Pentagon to start work immediately on a plan to withdraw American troops from Iraq, ordered preparation of plans to step up operations in Afghanistan, froze pay on White House salaries, imposed new ethics regulations, and promised to close the scandal-ridden Gitmo prison by the end of the year.
In 40 years of either covering politics as a journalist or working inside the system as a political operative, I have never seen a new President move so quickly. It’s obvious Obama wants to get these details out of the way so he can concentrate on the serious economic problems facing the country.
That challenge won’t be easy as Republicans on Capitol Hill are already playing petty political games on cabinet appointments and planning other stalling techniques on administration initiatives.
So much for bi-partisanship.
Republicans plan to stall the nomination of attorney general nominee Eric Holder until they get an iron-clad guarantee that the Justice Department will not pursue criminal prosecution of members of the Bush Administration for its role in torture and other abuses of law and the Constitution.
Bush may be gone but his legacy of putting politics and personal agendas ahead of the law lives on in the halls of Congress.
The GOP strategy is risky at best. Obama comes into office with the highest approval ratings of any President in the last 50 years. He follows a corrupt President with the lowest approval ratings of any President in history.
Right now, history and the American people are on Obama’s side but he faces the daunting obstacle of Washington’s traditional partisan divide and an agenda-driven "business as usual" system that controls too much of our government.
The new sheriff in town has the law on is side. However, the majority of the gunslingers still work for the bad guys. There will be blood in the streets before this fight is over.