Sunday, December 28, 2008

Department of: How Is This Still Going

Shortly after the election, local Republican activist and regular Post Dispatch op-ed contributor Z. Dwight Billingsly penned a short diatribe that had as much pop as a flat soda and the thoughtfulness of a child's bowl of spaghetti careening through mid-air on its way to an unpleasant meeting with the fridge.

Somehow, that particular story has managed to top the list of the most emailed stories on a regular basis since its publication. 

Titled "A Plan to Survive the Obama Years", Billingsly spends several hundred words trying to reiterate the McCain campaign's attack plan, with even less coherence or credibility than the failed presidential bid managed to eek out. It's as if he just yells a bit louder, the American people-or at least those that happen to read his column-will suddenly....what? Rescind their vote?

The crux of his argument is that President-elect Barack Obama lacks executive experience. Followed by the assertion that for the next four years the executive branch will resemble nothing more than some sort of farce as the Ship of State-manned by a bunch of amateurs-careens into the shoals. 

What never ceases to amaze me, of course, is that had Sen. McCain succeeded in his quest, Republicans would also have elected a man with no executive experience. That point alone should have caused most people to tune out the noise, but if you go further, its easy to see how completely Billingsly's points have been refuted.

Almost without exception, Obama's choices for important positions-Cabinet level, department heads and executive staff-have been lauded specifically for their professionalism and experience. The decision to keep on Defense Secretary Gates to handle the withdrawal from Iraq alone should have been enough to prove that Obama will follow through on his promise to run a professional, no-nonsense administration. 

Republicans should be doubly pleased that it is exactly this focus on practicality and professionalism has caused some consternation amongst those on the Left who thought an Obama administration would be a direct ideological refutation of the Bush administration.

However, the Obama administration appears to be have even more important goals than ideological satisfaction, that of returning honor and professionalism to government and a reassertion of American moral authority in the world. Beyond the ideological bent of the Bush administration, their efforts demoralized and politicized vast swaths of the government. 

In a way, however that was merely the collateral damage of an administration determined to rend any form of legal restrain on those who occupy the White House. Whether it be dumping rules that protect workers, or authorizing the torture of captives.

To return to an era in which merit and professionalism are prized, where the United States leads the world by its example, and where the rule of law is more than an empty promise, that would be the greatest rebuke to the Bush administration and their churlish sycophants.

- Murphy

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