Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Mess Left Behind


by William Rivers Pitt


    They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

    - F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Sooner or later, heaving buckets of blame onto George W. Bush for what we as a nation are being forced to endure will become a facile excuse; at some point, the whole kit and caboodle will be the sole property of President Barack Obama, whether he likes it or not and be damned to excuses. Already, his administration has taken enough dramatic measures to ensure that, should something go wrong, a fair share of censure will and rightly should be placed on the present and not the past.

    This has been one of those weeks, however, when everything happening bears the scars and stains of the despicable, cowardly and criminally insane actions of the Bush administration. This has been one of those weeks where it seems for all the world as if Bush left a flaming bag of dog poop on the White House porch before fleeing into the night, and President Obama had no choice but to stomp on it and get covered in crud. This has just been one of those weeks.

    President Obama spoke before the UN General Assembly on Wednesday after making significant progress in two key areas of foreign policy: he secured concessions from Russia regarding sanctions on Iran and won support from both Moscow and Beijing for a resolution to curb nuclear proliferation. In his address, however, one could not help but notice how forcefully the president emphasized the demonstrable fact that he is not George W. Bush, and that the country he leads is not the same one that had run roughshod over the international community over the last eight years.

    "During his address to the General Assembly," reported The New York Times on Thursday, "Mr. Obama sought to present a kinder, gentler America willing to make nice with the world. He suggested that the United States would no longer follow the go-it-alone policies that many United Nations members complained isolated the Bush administration from the organization. 'We have re-engaged the United Nations,' Mr. Obama said, to cheers from world leaders and delegates in the cavernous hall. 'We have paid our bills' - a direct reference to the former administration's practice of withholding some payment due the world body while it pressed for changes there."

    The simple fact that an American president had to stand before that world body and apologize, to all intents and purposes, for the last American president is a stinging humiliation for this country, but the sad fact is that it had to be done.

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