I'm still formulating my thoughts about the election itself, and what I think it means, and how I feel about it. But I don't want to get out of the habit of posting to this blog when I think it's relevant just because that's still in the queue.
First of all: if there's anything about the American electoral process that you, my faithful readers (all 50 or so of you :-D ) would like explained, please comment here, and I'll be happy to go into it.
Now, to what I really wanted to talk about.
Among the many articles about the upcoming presidential transition, there was a brief note about what Obama will not be doing.
He won't be intruding himself on the upcoming Global Economic Summit. He's not even currently planning to be in Washington that week, although he hasn't ruled it out, in order to meet outside the summit with various leaders on an informal basis.
Now, I imagine many of you are thinking, "What?! He needs to be there. Someone sane has to represent America at that meeting! That's what we elected him for!"
But Barack Obama, smart, smart man that he is, recognizes that one of the things that makes the United States great, one of the things that helped prove to the whole world that a federal, democratic republic could actually work, is that we have respectful, orderly, cooperative transitions of power. And that during that transition, we still only have one president, and it isn't the new guy.
Until 15 December, Senator Barack Hussein Obama II is the President-Designate. Between 15 December and 20 January, he's the President-Elect.
Which means that until 20 January, Obama is, for the purposes of that summit and host of other ongoing executive-branch issues, just another guy. The President, for good or ill, is still George Walker Bush, and the summit, and whatever comes of the summit, is still entirely his business.
Obama recognizes--because while he does an adequate show of modesty, he does know that he's a rockstar superhero--that he could easily undermine Bush simply by being present. He's already more popular (in part because he hasn't had a chance to do anything yet, but also because he's articulate and thoughtful) than the Lame Duck in Chief. He's probably smarter. And since whatever is decided will ultimately fall on Obama's shoulders, it could be argued that he should have some say in it.
But Obama knows, first of all, that the classy thing to do is to let Bush finish his term as unmolested as possible given the needs of transition. And, from a more calculating, political standpoint, that to undermine Bush in any way would be to invite, 4 or 8 years down the road, his own successor to do the same to him.
So, once again, he's taking the high road. While I sincerely hope that we don't wind up regretting his lack of input into the summit, I think that's the right thing to do.
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