I'm grateful for Barack Obama

My sappy Thanksgiving post got more serious as I watched the Mumbai tragedy unfold.


Joan Walsh
November 27, 2008 6:23PM (UTC)

I was getting ready to expand on the sappy Thanksgiving post I wrote on Open Salon last night when news began to unfold Wednesday about the Mumbai attacks. We don't know enough as I write for me to say anything intelligent about this, but I found myself counting my blessings again, in a more somber way, and including Barack Obama and Joe Biden among them.

It now seems particularly ridiculous that Republicans tried to make an issue out of Biden's factual statement, during the campaign, that Obama would be "tested" by our adversaries early in his term. Of course he will, and maybe this set of attacks will be part of it, maybe it will be something brand-new after Jan. 20.

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I find myself particularly grateful for Obama's calm and his clear judgment as I think about future awful days like this one. I'm glad he got a jump on his economic team this week, and I'm relatively happy with the news about his foreign policy and defense team as it emerges, particularly Hillary Clinton at State and Susan Rice as U.N. ambassador. Frankly, I'm torn about reports that Obama will keep Robert Gates as secretary of Defense. Like all Iraq war opponents and Bush critics, I'd like a clean break with the past. On the other hand, Gates was an improvement on Donald Rumsfeld, and wasn't responsible for Abu Ghraib or Rumsfeld's retaliation against war skeptics and critics in Defense.

Watching these scenes from Mumbai, I am a little more sympathetic to arguments that Obama needs experience and stability at Defense as he takes charge. But just a little. It would be wrong to let an ugly terror attack, wherever it occurs, shake our values and our commitment to a sane foreign and defense policy. We tried that seven years ago and look where it got us.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'm grateful for your readership and support.


Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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