On Saturday, America welcomed a new president, if not necessarily with open arms, at least without closed fists. George W. has been in office for two days, and the rhetoric has begin flying fast and furious. Today, he issued an executive order that prevents funding for international family-planning organizations that provide information about abortions. This is actually the latest in a long line of executive orders. In 1961, legislation was put into place to ban funding to international organizations that force abortions or use it as a form of population control (a la Communist China of today). In 1984, Ronald Reagan issued an executive order that expanded upon this, banning funding to organizations that provide information about abortions. In 1993, Bill Clinton issued an order of his own to override Reagan's order. George W.'s order, in turn, overrides Bill Clinton. I can guarantee that in the next 30 days or so, you will see even more of this; exec orders, proclamations, and Congressional bills and decrees that directly contradict the Clinton administration. Hold onto your hats (and your wallet).
My wife and I, while not exactly at opposite ends of the political spectrum, are divided on the George W. Bush administration. I did not really like Bill Clinton the man, and did not trust Bill Clinton the president. In November, I voted for George Bush, less as a dyed-in-the-wool Bush supporter than as a vote against Al Gore and his Clinton-inspired politics. I am somewhat ambivalent about most of Bush's cabinet (although I am glad Colin Powell is Sec of Defense). As a former Jersey resident, I know Christie Todd Whitman, and while I'm somewhat puzzled as to why she was picked for head of the EPA, I have confidence in her abilities. The rest of the cabinet are more or less interchangeable. A strong business background and fiscal and social conservatism is a given in a Bush cabinet.
There are only two people that I have serious concerns about. Call it naivete, but I don't know that much about the history of John Ashcroft. I am admittedly nervous about his anti-choice beliefs, but no more so that I was about Janet Reno's anti-Second Amendment stance. I hope that time and political acumen will temper his and George W's beleifs on this issue.
The nominee for Sec of the Interior, Ms. Norton, is another one that will polarize the Senate confirmation hearings. I need to do more research on her history, but what I have heard, she wants to drill for oil on Federal land. This in itself is not a bad thing. Before you call me a money-grabbing right-wing eco-Neanderthal, no one is advocating building a drill platform in the middle of Yosemite. Instead, Bush and Norton are looking to take some of the millions of acres of government-owned land in Alaska and offshore, land that is not a national park or historical landmark, and utilize it in an environmentally cautious fashion to meet the demand for fossil fuels. It's not going to be easy, and it's not going to be done overnight. However, we have to face the fact that we must become more self-sufficient in our use of petroleum and less dependent on Middle Eastern oil producing countries.
I plan on watching both of these individuals very carefully, and keeping a particular eye on George Bush, as well as my Senators and House reps. In the meantime, I am glad that we live in a country that allows civil and intelligent discourse of important issues. I thoroughly enjoyed the inaugurationon Saturday, and will be glad when the confirmation hearings are over. The past few months have been very contentious, and the past few years have been downright embarrassing. We need to get back to the business of our lives, and let the character and ethical conduct of our governing officials be accepted. So far, I have no issues with George Bush the man, and am looking forward to discovering more about George W. Bush the President.