He's had to re-take his oath (to placate the Fox News crowd who would be happy to say that 2000 and 2004 weren't a stolen and a dodgy election respectively. BUT would try to claim that the performative speech act of the Oath taking on Tuesday was what J.L. Austin might have termed 'an unhappy performative' - though to be fair, the Fox News crowd don't tend to be au fait with either Austin or Jürgen Habermas).
- To ensure while it is in the process of being closed that the Geneva Conventions are followed
- Suspend military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees
- To close the CIA's secret prisons around the world
- To stop use of torture
- Not to undertake illegal surveillance
- Wants troop withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months
- Wants a diplomatic relationship with Iran for talks without preconditions
- To lead bi- and multi-lateral disarmament for a 'nuclear-free world'
- To disallow the seal of ex-President's papers in perpetuity a la Bush
- To expedite the making public of official documents
- Wants to make the Israel / Palestine conflict top priority
- Wants to address immediately bailout funds and economic recovery plans
- Instituted a pay freeze for White House staff earning over $100,000 a year
- Is trying to distance the administration from the lure of lobbyists
- And might get a 'super encrypted' Blackberry after all!
Some of these are steps that will require congressional oversight and validation to become enacted, some are executive powers to be executed, most will have to be watched over to ensure they are not later reinstated when it becomes expedient or desireable (or if not when, then when it becomes expedient or desireable for someone - i.e., the who factor...). These are not absolute victories - but of course what ever is? We always must remain vigilant against the rolling back of gains and a regressive Draconianism reasserts itself. But these are the kinds of CHANGE(s) we HOPE(d) for from Obama - long may it continue!
PS: President Obama's first proclamation was for a day of Renewal and Reconciliation does that mean that we could be due a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as in South Africa? That would help with dealing with 9/11 and the Bush Administration and with race relations in the US. Perhaps - who knows...
The Dallas Morning News reports (excerpted):
From Ewen MacAskill in Washington - The Guardian, Thursday 22 January 2009: