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Beware of Obama Idolatry

As a cynical contrarian I admit being more than a little appalled by all the media hype and public adoration surrounding the inauguration of our new president. Make no mistake, I too want President Obama to succeed on every front. But when I hear the same old media pundits talk about a revolution that occurred on January 20 I get a little nauseous, because for years I have written about the need for genuine political revolution in the US .

Few Americans seemed to care that, as in the Obama campaign, enormous sums of money continued to be raised for lavish inauguration activities. Big dollars that came from the nation's richest individuals, families and corporate interests. Even fewer people seemed to care that so many people from the Bill Clinton administration have been selected for high positions in the Obama administration.

Having hope for our country is fine. After the devastating George W. Bush administration we certainly want to feel hope for our nation from a very different kind of president, one who is clearly smarter, more articulate, with far better leadership skills.

But what has always troubled me about Barack Obama is that he has always blended or packaged what is brilliantly marketed as new and different, change-focused goals with far less scrutinized old,-big-money oriented politics. The new Obama administration needs intense, objective but critical attention and evaluation by the media and all segments of the nation. Idolatry too easily leads to delusion.

If the nation's first African-American president becomes through many deeds one of our best presidents I could not be happier. All I ask for is that people examine clearly exactly what he does and accomplishes, that they not let self-delusion under the guise of hope cloud their appraisal of the new president and his administration.

After eight years of what I and many others think was the worst president in our history it is too easy to feel euphoria over a very, very different new president. We must not let happiness over getting rid of George W. Bush, however, block honest critiques of the new administration.

President Obama would make me and millions of other Americans a lot more satisfied if he saw the necessity for the good of our Constitution and nation of directing the Justice Department to aggressively pursue Bush administration officials for criminal acts, including, especially, George W. Bush. Respect for the office of the presidency should never be allowed to trump the rule of law that is supposed to apply to absolutely everyone.

To restore our economy the most critical need is to restore consumer confidence so that they resume normal discretionary spending. We must not ignore the fact that there is about three times as much cash sitting in bank and money market accounts than all the consumer debt in the nation. With over two-thirds of the American economy depending on consumer spending, every government action must be judged by the extent to which it produces more consumer spending, especially when those actions involve billions and trillions of borrowed dollars. The real intriguing question is whether all the public confidence in President Obama translates into greater consumer confidence and spending. So far it has not.

Time and honesty will tell the real story about President Obama. I wish him well and, yes, even me, the cynic and contrarian, hopes for the best outcomes.

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Joel S. Hirschhorn has succeeded as: a full professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison; a senior staffer, U.S. Congress (Office of Technology Assessment); head of an environmental consulting company; Director of Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, National Governors Association; now an author and consultant. Recent books are: Sprawl Kills - How Blandburbs Steal Your Time, Health and Money, and Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. He has published hundreds of articles in newspapers, magazines, journals and on many web magazine sites. He has given hundreds of talks at a wide range of conferences worldwide. He focuses on American culture, politics and government, and health issues.