By Colter Hettich, Features Editor
I guess I just expected a revolutionary.
I watched President Obama’s riveting address to hundreds of thousands in Berlin. I watched him eloquently challenge John McCain, the Republican Party and politics as a whole on the campaign trail. I listened as freshly sworn-in President Obama reiterated his promises to blaze a new path through the political muck and adopt a new way of doing things.
Only 16 days after Inauguration Day, I have witnessed nothing revolutionary about President Obama’s use of his presidential power. On the contrary, I have seen evidence of the familiar translucent politics seen in recent years. The rut of today’s politics appears much more difficult to avoid than President Obama expected.
He wasted no time in choosing his secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Daschle. Not until an aggressive New York Times editorial hit newstands and Nacy Killefer lead-by-example did Daschle forfeit the nomination.
“Daschle was aware as early as last June that he might have to pay back taxes for the use of a car and driver provided by a private equity firm,” according to nytimes.com. Daschle did not tell any of Obama’s people about his $128,000 bill until weeks after being named to his new position. The kicker: President Obama did not seem to care. Anybody could havemissed $128,000 in taxes. Politics as usual.
Then President Obama nominated Timothy Geithner to lead the administration’s economic team. Before the confirmation vote, it was revealed Geithner had failed to pay payroll taxes at the International Monetary Fund. He apologized, paid more than $48,000 in back taxes and took his place in the Treasury Secretary’s chair. After the swearing in, Obama defended his choice by saying there had been a “‘devastating loss in trust’ in the U.S. economy,” according to huffingtonpost.com. Loss in trust. Politics as usual.
Now the Senate faces a vote on an $850-plus billion stimulus package. The only problem is the amount of non-stimulating content – at least non-stimulating for the economy.
In a summary of the bill’s spending proposals, $20 billion is allocated “to provide nutrition assistance to modest-income families.” $20 billion for nutrition assistance. That’s not to mention the nauseating amount of money dedicated to the prevention of sexually transmitted disease and insurance for honeybee farmers. I thought this bill was to stimulate the economy. Politics as usual.
I believe in President Obama, but right now it is taking a lot of faith. Please, Mr. President, be the vessel of true change you promised to be, and not just the change from one party’s politics to the other’s.