As a history major, it would be remiss of me to let the recent change of command in D.C. go without notice (along with a couple of other things). But, as computer access at my normal blogging station has become a little more restricted, I'm forced to keep this relatively short (you're heard that before):-January 20th marked the 43rd (44th? 42nd? I know some have mentioned the exact number is a little fuzzy . . .) peaceful transfer of power in this country. For almost two and a half centuries, leaders in this nation have stepped down, given their successors a handshake to wish them good luck, and gone on their merry way. Many have remarked on this, for good reason: it's truly remarkable. The number of nations that can claim such a long history of (relatively) tranquil domestic politics are few. Perhaps only Great Britain has a longer unbroken history. Even among the countries that make up "the West", our social and intellectual cousins, that's rare. Since America was founded, France has undergone multiple revolutions and republics; Italy didn't wasn't unified until our Civil War; Germany went from Reich to republic to Reich again, and spent half of the 20th century split into two very different parts. We are truly blessed, and should take every opportunity to remember this.
- January 20th also marked a huge social milestone for this country; namely, that a man who, in living memory, wouldn't have been welcome in certain restaurants, now holds the reins of power in the mightiest nation on earth. He has promised a post-partisan, post-racial era of governing and discourse, and he should be held to his word, for many reasons. Juan Williams (hat-tip Winefred) has some excellent thoughts on the matter, and how Obama's election will fulfill the Rev. King's dream only if his administration is truly judged on the "content of its character". He should not be given a pass simply because he's the first black president, and criticism of his policies should not automatically generate cries of "racism!". His actions should be judged solely on their merits; the many civil rights leaders who marched, bled, and died to bring this day about deserve no less.
- Speaking of actions, here's one I hope he doesn't take, and doubt he will: this ludicrous proposal by George McGovern to place a five-year moratorium on, um, war (unless, of course, we really mean it). This not only includes withdrawing our troops from Iraq, but Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, and Qatar; indeed, he seems to be advocating dismantling our entire Central Command in the Middle East. He thinks our soldiers cannot and will never do any good in that region, and wants to fight narco- and Islamic terrorism in Afghanistan with: meals. Meals on wheels! Nutritious lunches for every boy and girl! Now, I don't disagree that seeing to the health of the population is important; that should be a central part of any counterterrorism strategy over there. But I'd like to ask Mr. McGovern; how exactly do you propose to get food to the children when our troops are withdrawn? He'd probably say the U.N., which is as good as condemning all those boys and girls to famine. Look at the U.N.'s efforts to combat famine and terror in Somalia, Rwanda, and Darfur; I don't think Afghanis deserve that kind of help. I know that the Obama administration wants to emphasize strong diplomacy over force of arms; but our new president also understands that certain goods can only be accomplished under the umbrella of our arms (getting food to children and fighting terrorists in Afghanistan being one of them). Besides, dismantling CENTCOM would all but guarantee widespread conflict in the region and horrific terrorist attacks against our allies and ourselves back at home. Maybe he hasn't been paying attention, but CENTCOM deals with a lot of bad guys, and keeps an eye on guys who will probably be bad in the future. Mr. McGovern, I say the same thing to you I say to Jimmy Carter: you had your time in the sun. You tarnish that time and demonstrate your own foolishness every time you say these things. Stop trying to be relevant.