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What the Inauguration Means

January 18th, 2009

I think that it represents a landmark, the kind that often is apparent only in hindsight, but due to contrast is far more visible at the time it occurs. There has been a great deal of talk concerning “Obamaniacs” seeing unicorns and rainbows and believing that Obama cannot fail, and as an enthusiastic Mac user, I recognize the scorn. But the enthusiasm is not because the one I support is infallible and capable of miracles, but because it represents a solid, capable alternative to something which I considered so full of fault that it was driving me mad.

The promise represented in the coming inauguration is that of a president who will not regularly violate the law and rend the Constitution; who will fill positions based on ability, not affiliation; who will support the people over corporations rather than the other way around; who will end wars and not start them; who will respect science and intelligence rather than trying to force them to suit a political agenda; who will act thoughtfully and not foolishly; who will listen and include, and not shut out and belittle; who will uphold our cherished traditions and principles instead of staining them; and so much more, but in short, a president who will do at the very least a competent job based on reason and sound judgment, and not a president who will do almost everything wrong.

The Change that is so often spoken of is not one of miracles, but rather a change simply to undramatic, calm, and reliable competence. After seeing the country taken in the direction it has been taken, it is like being on an airplane piloted by a drunken, suicidal maniac and we’re going to crash into that mountain soon; Obama is the competent pilot coming to shoulder the other one aside. That’s why winning the election was such a relief but not the unrestrained joy I had expected; with the ship of state in such peril, it seems like it’s taking forever for that badly-needed change to take place, and the inauguration, not the election, represents the moment when we start to change direction.

This is what I drafted in response to Josh Marshall’s request for readers’ takes on what the Inauguration means to them.

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  1. Tim Kane
    January 19th, 2009 at 02:54 | #1

    The point you made about the inaugeration being the inflection point of change, not the election, is very important. I’m quite interested in the subtle changes (as well as the big ones too, of course) that occur after Obama is sworn in. Up to now, he’s had to be very diplomatic with a criminalized Bush administration that even I feared might attempt some kind of coup of some sort (and lets face it, Bush V. Gore was a coup, and the magnatude of that out come, the stark difference between ruin and success, is indeed maddening).

    I’m so glad to have a constitutional law scholar at the helm instead of an MBA. MBAs are designed to run corporations. Corporations are amoral entities at best. They don’t define meaning, meaning is dictated to them, and under one word too: profits. The distant historians will see the pattern – Bush’s policies were consistent from the perspective of pursuing short term profits for corporations and the wealthy. They ruined America the way the’ve ruined GM and Shear-Lehman.


    I’m mostly a person to let the past stay in the past, and let bygones be bygones. But as Obama once said, the past isn’t even the past. In our system, precedents are the architecture of the future. And I think, this knowledge will soon find the Obama administration forced to pursue crimes committed by the Bush administration. As a constitutional lawyer, Obama knows, he either embraces the architecture Bush’s administration created, or he builds a new one based upon rule of law. For a legal scholar there is little choice in that.

    I also predict that the stimulus will not be enough. The reason it’s not bigger is because they are running into debt cealings. This was done on purpose – Bush wanted to bankrupt the country so that it would be forced to abandoned Social Security. Instead, perhaps in year two or three, Obama will implement tax policies of the Eisenhower era, left over from world war II, with huge burdens on the wealthy to pay to keep things afloat – the arguement will eventually bubble up that it was the xfer of feed corn to the seed corn stack that starved society of demand necessary to provide sufficient demand for the economy. He may also raise FICA caps to let them float with inflation, or just get rid of them all together. I would also look for things to be restructured so that the down turns hurt redstate and blue dog areas the hardest, if this is possible, in order to get the representatives of those districts on boards.

    Because of the financial crisis, I think health care reform will come from an alternative model that is self paying (making less demands upon government’s purse). I think that health care reform will come from forced or ‘guided’ consolidation of health insurance providers until there is a single monopoly which will be highly regulated, like the Bell system (circa 1979) to provide universal service. This will overcome opposition in two areas: one it will still be a ‘private’ provider and two, it will ‘buy out’ those people who have a vested interest in the existing system, (i.e. the shareholders of existing insurance companies). The old companies will be given a choice to sell everything (complete merger), or sell their processing of claims to the mother monopoly, and simply become a virtual bank depository for their clients, but no longer have a say in where, when or how the funds are dispersed (that will be the job of the mother monopoly/single payer) (i.e. partial merger). This method will buy out the opposition, it will also trump opposition calls for private insurance because, technically speaking it still is private, but it will also create a universal single payer regime not unlike the Phone system and it won’t cost the government a lot of money to do it. The government, depending upon the funds it has available, can buy some or all of the mother company (and any subsidiary financial companies as well). If those subsidiary financial companies prove to be inefficient they can be merged with the mother company. The mother company can also outsource its disbursement and payment processing tasks to Medicare (if it’s cheaper, why wouldn’t it). The point is we can get there from here without having to spend a lot of money. Society will benefit greatly from more efficient health care services, which will help pull the economy out of its current depression.

    It will take all of Obama’s first term to stabilize American society and economy.

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