Friday, November 07, 2008

Bush Pardon Watch

It's tough to beat the US election as a very serious matter and a spectacle. I am personally glad that it's over, both for the net positive result and the probabilty that I will never have to know anything more about a certain family from Alaska. (Sen. McCain genuinely made me angry for forcing that show on us at a time of serious concerns affecting the lives of real people).

Now, however, is a time for cooler emotions to prevail, and the next administration is faced with a range of problems on an unprecedented scale. By all accounts, Sen. Obama has uniquely cool temperament, appropriate to these times. I was a bit taken back by the theatre of Obama's speeches in Berlin, at the convention, and in victory in Chicago: just a single figure on a ramp — not really a stage — and not the usual view of a candidate crowded in a field of pols. This image fundamentally clashed with the non-royal "we" of his message, but perhaps it was a useful sign that he is taking on high office without the usual variety of political debts. I hope that Obama has the creativity to match his cool to move to solutions that are more fundamental in nature. The goal is not just to fix the current mess, but to make some long-overdue, perhaps even radical, changes for the better. The financial crisis, energy policy, environmental policy, health care, education, and social security are issues that interconnect and must be solved in parallel motion (if sometimes in a form of lively but dissonant counterpoint), with the extra benefits of such coordinated action likely to pay off in numerous other ways, for example in the war on terror and the critical relationship to the developing world in general.

We still have too many days before Obama takes office and a lot of damage remains to be done by the Bush residency. Look out, especially, for the flood of pardons to come, particular to members or benefactors of the administration. (Heck, I can imagine Bush pardoning his VP a day before his term ends, then promptly resigning so that a Resident Cheney can pardon Bush in return.) Maybe, in an act of vigilance, we should all flood the White House with pardon requests, for whatever little crime we may have once committed: when I was 14, I failed to stop at a stop sign on my bicycle and got a suspended sentence, I have committed too many parallel fifths and octaves to count, and I once pulled that "do not remove" tag off of a hotel mattress. I also stole some soap from the same hotel. Pardon me, Mr. Bush!

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