Sunday, December 21, 2008

One month to go before the Obama administration takes over

And I hope it goes by quickly.

The wreckage left behind by the Bush years is really something to behold.

Blinded by partisanship, conservatives and GOPers can't really gauge the depth of the disgust of average Americans with the Bush legacy.

It turned out to be a perfect storm of incompetence and ideology. Bush will be remembered for a string of words like Katrina, torture, Iraq, 9/11, bailout, housing bubble, Terry Schiavo, WMDs, Tora Tora, Abu Ghraib and more, with little if any positive feelings associated with any of those.

Indeed, if it wasn't for the exemplary leadership of Gates and Petraeus in their respective spheres and the devotion and talent of many thousands of soldiers and civil servants at lower levels who salvaged something resembling success out of the ill-advised Iraq adventure, we would be in an even worse way.

As it is, President Obama will have no honeymoon as he works full-bore to rescue the economy frmo dire straights while recasting our foreign policy in more sensibl directions.

I, for one, don't see how sinking $10 billion a month or more into Iraq can't have a negative effect on the economy back home. Is it a major cause, no, but that represents several hundred billion dollars of money that wasn't available for dealing with our domestic issues. The nonmonetary costs have been even steeper.

I'm hopeful that the team that Obama has put in place (in record time, by the way) will be able to head off the worst, but I fear that the "better" outcome will still not be anything we'll look back with any fondess.

In particular I'm afraid that the newspaper industry will not survive the coming 12 months. My paper is less vulnerable thatn most, but everyone is at risk. Quite a few major cities may find themselves without a daily newspaper.

There's a need for news gatherers no matter what the fate of the dead-tree media is. The question is who pays for the news gatherers once the dead-tree media expires. I don't think most people undertsand how much that the electronic media, bot old and new, leeches off the print media for stories and information. I've had more than one television reporter admit to me in conversation that they get most of their stort ideas from the newspapers. Very few of the online news sites do any orginal reporting, most also rely on print media and merely aggrgate those stories. At the end of the day there has to be someone attending the meetings, r eading the reports, interviewing sources and walking the beat to generate the news. Otherwise we're left with just press releases and pundits.

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