Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things for Obama to consider

Obama isn't going to have an easy time of it. He knows that already, of course. Not only does he inherit the headaches left to him by the Bush and Clinton (and Bush and Reagan and Carter) administrations, he also gets to inherit the temptations—which are considerable, thanks to George Junior.
Giving up power is harder than it sounds. Obama's attorney general will have to craft new limits and new methods of accountability. This, in turn, may invite intense scrutiny of what happened in the immediate past. Both Congress and the public may demand to know about secret orders and opinions authorising torture, domestic spying or other forms of illegal activity. Obama and his advisers will have to decide whether political prudence and national security require them to conceal the previous administration's dirty little secrets.
And there are all those issues that nobody talked about during the campaign, one of which is eloquently explored by Michael Pollan in his letter to the President-Elect:
It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food. Food policy is not something American presidents have had to give much thought to, at least since the Nixon administration — the last time high food prices presented a serious political peril. Since then, federal policies to promote maximum production of the commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat and rice) from which most of our supermarket foods are derived have succeeded impressively in keeping prices low and food more or less off the national political agenda. But with a suddenness that has taken us all by surprise, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close. What this means is that you, like so many other leaders through history, will find yourself confronting the fact — so easy to overlook these past few years — that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention.
Yep, the man's got all kinds of fun ahead of him. I don't envy him one bit.

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