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"Business as Usual Brinksmanship" Greets Obama Administration, Writes Prof. Kevin Howley

February 23, 2009

Kevin Howley 2008 hs.jpgFebruary 23, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — "So much for the afterglow," declares Kevin Howley, associate professor of communication at DePauw University. "Scarcely a month has gone by since Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, and all that talk about the progress we've made and the need for national unity in the face of adversity seems like ancient history," Dr. Howley writes in Indiana's Bloomington Alternative.

"When Obama made history on that frigid day in January, there was a palpable sense of possibility and promise," the professor notes. "Now, it seems, any prospect for consensus, collaboration and bipartisan leadership is gone with the wind. Partisan politics reasserted itself within days of the inauguration. The talk of the town in Washington turned on a dime from self-congratulation and genuine social progress to the 'business as usual' brinksmanship and political maneuvering that breeds gridlock and corruption."Barack Obama 2009 portrait sm.jpg

Howley says that while Republicans voted against the economic stimulus package, the new president committed missteps. "For instance, Obama undermined his credibility when he allowed key appointees to get by with 'waivers' to his much-heralded ethics reform measures, despite their problematic ties to lobbyists and industry insiders," the professor opines, who also worries the administration's plan to send more forces to Afghanistan is "likely to inflame anti-American sentiments and further destabilize the region ... For a leader with such a keen intellect, it is a terrible disappointment that Obama seems to miss the lessons of history -- or the writing on the wall for that matter. Nowhere is this more evident than in the administration's unnerving silence on the dire situation in Gaza. While the fighting has subsided, for the time being, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalates into a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions."

The column concludes, "now's the time for progressives to step up. The Republican's have tipped their hand -- and it's a lousy one at that. The GOP is betting everything on Obama flaming out in his first term. We can't let that happen, of course. But as author Michael Lux recently observed, 'We can't White House South.jpgafford to play small-ball,' either. Rather than retreat into what Lux describes as the 'culture of caution' that has crippled the Democratic Party for decades, we ought to push Obama and his Democratic majority to take up a bold, principled agenda: one committed to economic justice, the rule of law, and peace and security."

Access the complete op-ed at College News.org

Kevin Howley is the author of Community Media: People, Places, and Communication Technologies. He took the media to task in an Alternative column published two weeks ago.

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