Many of us - perhaps including the President himself - wish that the calendar could miraculously be turned to January 21. There is often criticism of America's extended electoral process as inviting debate of trivia and personal attacks to retain attention. The ten week stretch between the election and the inauguration is worse, carrying both political acrimony and international risk - particularly when the transition involves a change of parties in the White House. Like everything in this cycle, this time it is worse than normal.
On the one hand, President Obama is unable to accept that the country has elected enough Republicans at the presidential and legislative level to obliterate much of his legacy in short order. He would have won had he been allowed to run for a third term; the majority of Americans actually agree with his vision of more socialism domestically and less global leadership. Hillary ran a bad campaign. It all stems from our national history of racism. Whine. Whine. Whine.
As to the legacy obliteration, he is right.
- Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a doctor by training, has chaired the House Budget Committee and authored many unsuccessful "repeal and replace Obamacare" proposals. He will hit the ground running.
- EPA Director Scott Pruitt, the attorney general from Oklahoma, has brought seven suits against Obama's environmental policies and is a skeptic about the premise that sacrificing America's energy economy will do enough to significantly affect global warming - whatever its cause. He will hit the ground running.
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the senior senator from Alabama, and a strong opponent of immigration "amnesty", will be a strong friend of law enforcement.
- Homeland Security Secretary, retired Marine General John Kelly, who oversaw Guantanamo and the southern border, will build the (figurative) wall. He will have the backs of the Border Patrol. Companies will be penalized for employing illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants who commit crimes will be deported or incarcerated. Sanctuary cities will be shut down. Visas will be enforced. There will be an "America first" immigration policy.
But the biggest risk during the transition is international - where Obama has room to act, and where he is grabbing his last chance to implement his vision without Congressional approvals. The transition also offers an opportunity for foreign governments to exploit a moment of American weakness.
- By allowing the United Nations motion to censure Israel for building settlements in territory they have occupied since the 1967 War, President Obama has given away a "land for peace" negotiation position for establishing a "Two State" solution - in opposition to 50 years of American policy. (Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu claims that Obama initiated the resolution. Time will tell.) John Kerry's subsequent two hour petulant rant against Israel sets the floor from which Trump must rise.
- In an effort to sour relations with Russia as much as possible before he leaves office, Obama will impose sanctions on Russia for hacking and divulging e-mails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary's campaign chair. The Russians probably did it; it probably made a difference in the election - Hillary was falling before Comey re-opened her e-mail investigation. Sanctions provide a chance to de-legitimize Trump's election, and to take one last swipe at Vladimir Putin who has outfoxed Obama at every turn.
- Obama has informed Congress that he plans to release 19 of the 59 "worst of the worst" Bush-era prisoners remaining at Guantanamo, despite the fact that roughly a fifth of the prisoners which have been released to date have returned to the battlefield. If he cannot close the prison, he will do everything he can to minimize it - regardless of the consequences. .
President Obama and John Kerry are totally missing from the most important international development - the "spheres of influence" agreement between Russia, Iran, and Turkey which promises to significantly dampen the carnage in Syria. Fortunately, they need American (and Sunni Arab) money to stabilize and re-build the country, so Trump will be invited to participate once Obama is out of the way. Turn the clock.
Those are the "known knowns". What should cause us to hold our breath until January 21 are the "unknown unknowns" - North Korea; the Ukraine; the South China Sea. As the Democratic "scorched earth" types try to block Trump's cabinet, it is essential that General Jim Mattis at Defense and Rex Tillerson at State get confirmed as a top priority.
This week's video is Barack Obama's delusional exit interview with David Axelrod in which he claims that he could have won, had he been able to run again.
bill bowen - 12/30/16