Bill Steigerwald Bill Steigerwald, 11/8/2008 [Archive]

Yes You Can Try -- Opinion

Mr. Obama, bring on the change.

Bring on that new dawn of American leadership you say is at hand.

Bring on your soaring rhetoric, your mandate from the media, your party's near veto-proof legislative majority.

Get down to Washington in January and use your political superpowers to begin solving what you say are 'the greatest challenges of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril and the greatest financial crisis in a century.'

Yes you can try.

We your people understand, as you have said, that the road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep and we may not get to wherever very liberal place you're taking us to as a nation in one year or -- rather conveniently for you -- even in one term.

But we know you and your cronies from the hard-left side of Chicago are already working on where you'll find themoney to pay for that generous to-do list of neo-New Deal stuff you've been promising your adoring fans for the last two years.

There's a recession on, but yes you can try.

Meanwhile, if you truly want to make America a better place and change the cruddy way things have been done in Washington for the last 60 years by both major political parties, here are a couple of daring ideas to get you warmed up and let you prove that you're more than just talk:

First, you should fulfill your old promise to get us out of Iraq ASAP. And you should do the same with the war in Afghanistan, an even more hopeless quagmire. Despite the hawkish hallucinations you had during the election campaign of winning the war in Afghanistan and capturing bin Laden, Afghanistan also does not deserve to have another American drop of blood or dollar spent on it.

While you're at it, and if you're serious about bringing real change, try ratcheting down the bloated warfare state that Republicans and Democrats have built and abused for their political ends.

First, tell the thugs of the world we'll leave them alone if they don't threaten our national security or harbor al-Qaida summer camps, but if they mess with us we'll quickly kick their butts.

Then slash the defense budget at least 40 percent. For starters, and to save scores of annual billions, close 75 percent of our overseas military bases -- we have more than 820 installations in at least 39 countries. That includes 56,000 people in Germany, 33,122 in Japan and 10,000 in Italy -- three rich nations that can and should be providing for their own defenses.

Good luck. But yes you can try.

On the homefront, there's another hugely important change you could quickly bring America: Call off the federal government's bipartisan war on drugs.

You could get on TV some Tuesday night and tell your fellow Americans the truth most of them have known for decades: The dirty drug war waged by government on its own people has failed by every measure.

Then reassert your forgotten call for America to start treating all drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue. Then give your presidential blessing to the decision by Massachusetts voters last week to approve the country's first marijuana decriminalization initiative.

Then make marijuana as legal as beer. Then pardon all nonviolent drug offenders. Then decommission the DEA. Then, using your best oratorical skills, declare a great victory in America's never-ending war against too much government and too little personal freedom.

You might be impeached within 24 hours. But yes you can try.

Bill Steigerwald is a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. E-mail Bill at© Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, All Rights Reserved.

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