What, Me Worry?NOVEMBER 15, 2008
- Guantanamo Bay
- (Randall Mikkelsen-Pool/Getty Images)
- Rudy's Barbershop
- New Langston Hughes Poems Discovered
- Coming to America
- Weekend Soundtrack: "Shattered" by the Rolling Stones
More From Benjamin Adair
It's the second weekend after the election, and you still might be reeling from the results. But we're guessing a lot of you are feeling pretty darn good. Sure there's the economy, the war, the foreclosure crisis, global warming - but those are all the problems of the last presidency, right? Now that there's a new president, everything's going to get whipped into shape. Isn't that the way it's going to go? Well, before you go giving up that Profound Sense of Worry that many of you have been living with for oh-so-long, before you start actually believing that every little thing's really going to be all right, let us remind you, every silver lining has at least one dark cloud. Weekend America's Ben Adair has found a few.
This has been an historic election for America. The nation's first African-American president, a sweeping endorsement for change. And a recent Pew poll found that while 11 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the America's been headed, 64 percent remain confident that we can solve the problems ahead of us. Yes, we can, the sentiment seems be.
But even some critics of the Bush administration say, not so fast with the optimisim. Now is not the time to stop worrying.
"Let me be the dark cloud on the Obama horizon," says Ben Wizner. He's a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. He's very concerned about closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay - that it may be done in the wrong way.
"One of the things that we've been hearing a lot, even in recent days, is that closing Guantanamo would be massively complicated because what do you do with all of these terrorists, who can't be prosecuted but also who can't be released?" Wizner asks. "And there have even been policies floated that perhaps we need a new national security court system, some new authority to detain dangerous terrorists without prosecuting them."
How we deal with terrorism suspects is one of the toughest questions facing the incoming administration. Civil liberites advocates like Wizner argue that our justice system is perfectly suited, as is, for dealing with the criminals at Guantanamo.
His worry is that as "Close Guantanamo" goes from campaign slogan to policy, that this argument some suspects are too dangerous, despite the evidence, or that some evidence is too secret, will become a parting gift to George W. Bush.
"If the final legacy of Guantanamo is that the prison is closed, but what that prison represents is enshrined in American law, we'll be in a worse place than we were before."
Here's another for you.
You'd think a guy like John White who runs a company called the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, you'd think he'd be sleeping well at night, right?
"Well, I'm sleeping better because it's like Happy New Year, with Obama. Finally our long national nightmare is over," White says. "And you wake up with a great sense of hope. But also with a sense of great risk and great danger."
It's true that Obama has proposed, for example, a massive upgrade to our entire energy grid. He talks concretely about energy independence. It's true that Al Gore is in the running for a new cabinet level position, something along the lines of Energy Czar.
John White says, forget energy, forget environmentalism, we are not taking any of this seriously enough.
"I don't think we have yet put these crises in the context of national security, which is where I think they belong. I think our dependence on oil, combined with the threat of climate change, is a singular threat to our nation's security. Think about solar plants like building Liberty ships. We're in a race against time."
The first betrayal is always the hardest. And for Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, the biggest worry as candidate Obama becomes president, is which of his promises will end up unfulfilled. Some undoubtedly will be left aside, or broken. The question is how many, when, and what difference they will make.
- Music Bridge:
- A Manha Na Praia
- Artist: The Alps
- CD: III (Type)