Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Reading

The First 100 Days — How President Obama is doing so far in South Florida.

It’s nearly 100 days into his presidency, and Barack Obama has yet to disappoint Jean Acevedo, a small-business owner who ardently cast her vote for the Democrat in November.

Acevedo praises Obama’s juggling of big issues. In her estimation, the president has made all the right moves in redirecting environmental policy and revitalizing foreign relations, and in aggressively tackling the economic trouble he inherited — although like many people she is wary of massive bailouts and ballooning federal deficits.

”I can’t believe how much he is trying to handle and how well he is doing it,” said Acevedo, 61, who lives in Delray Beach and describes herself as a fiscally conservative Democrat who also voted for Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.

The president’s policies have yet to make a significant mark on South Florida. Economic stimulus money is just starting to wend its way here, and Obama has not tackled broad healthcare reform, a critical campaign promise for a region with one of the highest rates of uninsured people in the country.

And Obama’s aggressive deployment of the government purse has solidified an apparently small but determined opposition across the region.

But Acevedo’s faith in the president’s ability to steer the best course remains firm — a confidence shared by a solid majority of Floridians at this early but symbolically important juncture in Obama’s presidency, surveys suggest.

”Obama has a team of smart, competent people that’s allowing him to multitask, and he’s shown the courage to try and do what he has,” Acevedo said. ”No one would argue this man is very smart, whether you agree or disagree with his positions.”

The Historians Compare Notes

For three months, five presidential historians have been writing online columns comparing Barack Obama’s initial 100 days in office with those of some of his modern predecessors’. These are their final installments. The full series, along with an interactive timeline of presidential history can be found in the 100 Days blog.

Frank Rich — The Original Sin.

Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to “protect” us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us from “another 9/11,” torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House’s illegality.


President Obama can talk all he wants about not looking back, but this grotesque past is bigger than even he is. It won’t vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. The White House, Congress and politicians of both parties should get out of the way. We don’t need another commission. We don’t need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials that at long last uphold and reclaim our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.

Doonesbury — Tweet Bird of Youth.