Our new president is getting things done. He reminds us daily of the many problems we face, and how it will take a lot of time and effort to overcome them. Yet, he is wasting no time in starting the climb.
On his first day on the job, President Obama froze his White House senior staff’s pay and installed ethics and openness policies — ideals relatively new to government.
Approximately 100 staffers who earn $100,000 or more will not be receiving a paycheck. The pinch is being felt all the way up.
All of Obama’s staff will be subject to an ethics briefing and, in the president’s own words, “held accountable.” He thanked his staffers for agreeing to the freeze and said it was a mark of their commitment to public service. Is that what the government is supposed to do? Wait a minute; I’m confused! I thought they were supposed to be self-serving and secretive.
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” Obama said. He also supports the Freedom of Information Act, a law that was all but laid by the wayside by the Bush administration — the most secretive administration of all. Does this mean we will soon have access to all those secrets? It is time the Bush administration is held accountable for their mistakes and bad decision-making.
Can you imagine if Bush ever said he would not support agencies that work to hide information, but would hail those that make it known? The only thing that comes to my mind is “a cold day in hell.”
It seems this new president is following through with his campaign rhetoric. He laid the smackdown on lobbyists by banning all gifts and tightening rules and restrictions.
The new guy also signed an executive order that will shut down Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba in a year’s time. The prison has been the home of very questionable U.S. military torture tactics. He is remodeling U.S. treatment of terror suspects with two other executive orders to review trials and has placed a ban on torture.
The day of the 44th president’s inauguration has a place in history. It is the day Washington, D.C. was consumed with more then 2 million people, whose pilgrimage was to watch the first man to inspire so many become the leader of the free world.
The country is hopeful, eager, excited and enthusiastic — and the list goes on. Whether we are happy Obama took office or just happy Bush took off, we are happy. It’s similar to the brief feeling of closeness Sept. 11, 2001 caused among Americans.
For the first time in at least eight years, Americans are feeling good about the future. Many people believed the president when he said we will overcome our problems with hard work. He is moving people — many times to tears of hope and joy.
This is the type of history you want to hold as president. And this is not the history Bush will have. Poor Mr. Bush was so bent on how history would treat him. He wants to be remembered for keeping us safe after Sept. 11, yet he is refusing to take responsibility that it happened on his watch.
It must have been hard for Bush to watch the new guy “wow” the crowd by promising an administration to counter his own.
Perhaps now we have a chance to see what hard work and honesty does for a country. We can only hope our new commander in chief will achieve what he says he will.
Serafina Costanza is a senior journalism major and an assistant opinions editor for the Daily Forty-Niner.