A friend stopped by my desk on his way home and asked what the news was. How’s President Obama doing on his first day?
I had to point him to the intertoobz. Obama did so much on his first day in office that I couldn’t keep up. Luckily, Joan Walsh has a snapshot for us:
By noon on his first day in office, Obama had called the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to talk about next steps for peace; asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to halt Guantánamo trials and circulated a draft executive order to close the prison within the year; and attended a prayer service that included the first-ever sermon by a woman minister and the prayers of a Muslim imam.
In the afternoon he signed two executive orders and three presidential memoranda, tightening ethics rules for his staff, strengthening the Freedom of Information Act and giving the public greater access to presidential records. “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” he said as he signed the documents. Then he watched Vice President Joe Biden swear in his senior staff, and stayed to shake hands or embrace every one of them. After that he met with senior economic advisors and top military staff to discuss plans for the economy and Iraq; later, he hosted an open house for the American people, a new symbol of his commitment to access and transparency.
All of this, and retaking the Oath of Office, too.
As for those wondering if the abuses of power so recently enjoyed by the Bush regime will continue, I think we have got our answer:
It’s encouraging, then, to know who’ll be sitting in John Yoo’s office for the foreseeable future.
A Georgetown source forwards over an email from that school’s administration, reporting that Professor Marty Lederman’s class will be canceled — because he’s joining the Obama administration.
Lederman, another former Clinton Office of Legal Counsel lawyer, is perhaps the most prominent of several high-profile opponents of the Bush Administration’s executive power claims joining Obama, a mark that he intends not just to change but to aggressively reverse Bush’s moves on subjects like torture. With hires like Barron, Johnen, and Lederman, Obama is not just going back to Democratic lawyers: These are anti-Bush lawyers.
Damn straight. Lederman has been a leading opponent of Bush’s torture policies, and the legal reasoning behind them. He’s even suggested that the former administration officials committed crimes in this area. Now, thankfully, Lederman is headed to the OLC.
And what an OLC it will be. The Lederman announcement came shortly after David Barron was named Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the OLC. Barron has been a staunch opponent of Bush’s executive-branch power-grabs and war-time legal arguments.
Both Barron and Lederman will, of course, join Dawn Johnsen, who’ll head the OLC, and whose record on these issues is sterling.
President Obama’s not going to be 100% perfect. No one ever is. But it looks like I’m going to have to struggle hard to come up with more than quibbles with the job he’s doing, and when I have the low-hanging fruit of right-wing idiocy to pluck, it’s hard to muster the energy for more than a rousing shout of “Huzzah, an adult in office at last!“
Update: You can thank Obama for hitting the ground at Mach Three here.