By Fr. George Welzbacher
March 8, 2009
SOME of the recent statements issued by the Obama Administration are worthy, I think, of applause.
ITEM: President Obama's speech last week to the Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In that speech Mr. Obama acknowledged that our forces in Iraq have "SUCCEEDED BEYOND ANY EXPECTATION." Indeed, just a year or so ago Senate Majority leader Harry Reid was proclaiming: "This war is lost." And Senator Hillary Clinton was dismissing General Petraeus' cautious optimism about the potential for success of "the Surge" as "demanding more than a willing suspension of disbelief." Mr. Obama himself during last summer's political campaign summed up his "take" on the situation (after his one quick trip to Iraq) with the words: "So far, I think we have not seen the kind of political reconciliation that's going to bring about long-term stability in Iraq." Mr. Obama's latest judgment on the subject thus represents a startling reversal. So far as I am concerned, a highly welcome change.
Also worthy of applause, in the judgment of many, myself included, is President Obama's announced decision to follow the advice of Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, "two of our finest Generals" and the advice of our outgoing ambassador to Iraq, the brilliant Arabist and tough negotiator Ryan Crocker, to maintain inside Iraq some 35,000 to 50,000 American troops in order to continue to train Iraqi forces and to conduct "targeted" counter-terrorism missions. The swift and total evacuation of American forces from Iraq, Mr. Obama's earlier proposal, would have placed our hard-won achievements in that country in serious jeopardy.
But I, for one, was most impressed by President Obama's words of praise for the actual achievements, and not simply for the heroic efforts, of the Marines and the rest of our armed forces in Iraq: "We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein's regime-and you got the job done. We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a Sovereign govemment-and you got the job done. And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life-that is your achievement; that is the prospect that you have made possible." Well said, President Obama! And implicit in your tribute to our troops and to their achievement is the vindication of the policy that they were sent to carry out, the policy pursued by your very lonely, very courageous, and blessedly stubborn predecessor, George W. Bush. Mr. Bush puts me in mind of another courageous president, Harry Truman, who ended his presidency with his ratings in the cellar but in retrospect is regarded today as a highly effective and, in the judgment of many, an important contributor towards making America what it is today: The defender of freedom throughout the world.
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With the Dow-Jones at an appalling 6763 at the close of last Monday's trading-representing a loss of MORE THAN HALF of the value that the Market enjoyed in 2007, when the Dow at one point topped 14,000--quite clearly the freefall that began after Mr. Obama's election and has continued since his inauguration as President may still have some distance to go. One analysis of the basic "reason why" appeared in the lead editorial of the Wall Street Journal for Tuesday, March 3rd. From that editorial may I share with you the editorial's core. I offer it here simply as food for thought about a calamity that puts us all in danger. I am NOT formally endorsing the editorial's thesis. Think about it, if you will, and make your own judgment.
* * * * *Editorial
The Wall Street Journal
March 3, 2009
...The market has notably plunged since Mr. Obama introduced his budget last week, and that should be no surprise. The document was a declaration of hostility toward capitalists across the economy. Health-care stocks have dived on fears of new government mandates and price controls. Private lenders to students have been told they're no longer wanted. Anyone who uses carbon energy [ie., energy derived from coal, natural gas or oil] has been warned to expect a huge tax increase from cap and trade. [Better set up that windmill and install those solar panels!]. And every risk-taker and investor now knows that another tax increase will slam the economy in 2011, unless Mr. Obama lets Speaker Nancy Pelosi impose one even earlier.
Meanwhile, Congress demands more bank LENDING even as it assails lenders and threatens to let judges rewrite mortgage contracts. The powers in Congress-unrebuked by Mr. Obama-are ridiculing andpunishing the very capitalists who are essential to a sustainable recovery. The result has been a capital strike, and the return of the fear from last year that we could face a far deeper downturn. This is no way to nurture a wounded economy back to health.... [Emphasis added.].