Millions of people will this afternoon stop what they are doing and watch President Obama’s inauguration. Whilst there is a real sense of history being made today, let’s not forget we should celebrate the end of eight disastrous years of the Bush Administration.
Bush’s supporters have been out in force recently trying to attack his critics. One, the columnist Bruce Anderson in the Independent newspaper argues that on many issues Bush will be proved “vindicated”. They argue that, in trying to belittle him, critics such as me “merely reveal their own littleness”.
Anderson is fundamentally wrong. Whether it be an illegal war in Iraq or Bush’s disastrous stance on climate change and the environment, Bush will be proved to have been catastrophically wrong. Moreover, the days of Bush’s cronies in the oil industry getting freebies, back-handers and ludicrous tax-breaks are hopefully over.
It remains to be seen what Obama can and will do. The burden of expectancy is huge and is likely to disappoint. As the New York Times puts it today: “He will eventually have to choose between competing advice and priorities, risking the disappointment or anger of constituencies that for the moment can still see in him what they hope to see.”
So we wait to see whether Obama the President will somehow live up to the rhetoric and hype of the Presidential candidate. But we must also celebrate the end of Bush and also one final act of defiance at the week-end.
On the blog, both Steve and I have highlighted the case of Tim DeChristopher, who managed to successfully scupper the Bush Adminstration’s last gift to its oil buddies – some 100,000 acres offered to oil and gas companies near national parks in Utah. In total Tim bid for 12 parcels of land totalling 22,000 acres. Although Tim had no money, he bid $1.79 million.
The government agency selling the land, the Bureau of Land Management, threatened to sue him for bidding without cash in hand; and Tim raised the necessary $45,000 from supporters to make the first down payment.
Now a federal judge has suspended the sale of over 100,000. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by several environmental groups and suspends the sale of the land in Utah and came just hours before the oil companies would have got their hands on the leases.
The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District Court in Washington, ruled that the Interior Department had not done sufficient environmental analysis, particularly of how air quality might be degraded.
“Because of the threat of irreparable harm to public land if the leases are issued,” Judge Urbina wrote, “the balancing of equities also tips in favor” of the environmental groups.
“This order stops the Bush bulldozers in their tracks,” said Sandra Buccino, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defence Council, one of the groups to bring the suit. “This is a win for two reasons. It preserves the land in question and it forces the BLM to do a more thorough job in protecting nature … As a result of the judge’s decision this will be a mess left on Obama’s doorstep.”
So here is a small first test for Obama. Let’s hope he cleans the mess up by making the auction null and void, or even better extending the national park to cover those areas.