It's a new year. It's winter but spring lies ahead. It's a time, perhaps, for hope, for the belief that things can and will get better. That's especially true for us Americans because we have a sort of second New Year coming. In less than three weeks, Barack Obama will replace George W. Bush as president. What a relief!
I don't know how well or how badly Mr. Obama will do as our leader, but I'll be stunned if he doesn't improve on Mr. Bush's record. First, I hope he'll return to the days when we honored the Constitution, talked about a government of laws and not of men. Mr. Bush seemed to feel that in wartime, the Constitution didn't apply, that he, the Decider, was all-powerful. Spy on Americans without a court order? Tap their phones? Read their mail? Sure, why not? Hold prisoners in secret jails? Sure. Hold them without ever putting them on trial, without telling them what they were accused of, what evidence there was against them? Sure. I hope very much that Mr. Obama ends all that and returns to the Constitution that helped make this country great.
Then, I hope he talks to people, all sorts of people, those who wish us well--fewer of them now than eight years ago-- and those who don't. I hope he avoids labels--no Axes of Evil scattered around the world and instead tries to find out whether we and, say, Iran, can't coexist without having to have a war. The planet is more crowded than it used to be, but there may still be enough room for us all as long as we don't insist that everyone else behave like us. I think the Saudis' restrictions on women are silly, of course. But that's their business, not mine.
I don't know how much of this stuff Obama will do, or even want to do. But I'm hopeful, for the first time in well, what--eight years.
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