Plotting Bush's Undoing

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, November 10, 2008; 12:48 PM

It looks like the Obama White House won't be wasting any time when it comes to rolling back the Bush agenda.

Ceci Connolly and R. Jeffrey Smith write in Sunday's Washington Post: "Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.

"A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. The team is now consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize those they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive, said a top transition official who was not permitted to speak on the record about the inner workings of the transition.

"In some instances, Obama would be quickly delivering on promises he made during his two-year campaign, while in others he would be embracing Clinton-era policies upended by President Bush during his eight years in office.

"'The kind of regulations they are looking at' are those imposed by Bush for 'overtly political' reasons, in pursuit of what Democrats say was a partisan Republican agenda, said Dan Mendelson, a former associate administrator for health in the Clinton administration's Office of Management and Budget. The list of executive orders targeted by Obama's team could well get longer in the coming days, as Bush's appointees rush to enact a number of last-minute policies in an effort to extend his legacy."

Here's John Podesta, Obama's transition chief, on Fox News Sunday: "There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we'll see the president do that. . . .

"I think that he feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set."

Podesta in particular scolded Bush for last-minute administration maneuvers, such as planning to sell oil and gas leases in pristine wilderness areas in eastern Utah. "They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah that they're going to try to do right as they -- walking out the door. I think that's a mistake."

Closing Guantanamo

Marisa Taylor and Michael Doyle wrote on Friday for McClatchy Newspapers: "From expansive executive privilege to hard-line tactics in the war on terrorism, Obama must decide what he'll undo and what he'll embrace."

Among the thorniest issues: "How does he close the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba? He's pledged to shutter it, but how quickly can he do so when it holds some detainees whom no administration would want to release?

"Obama has declared coercive interrogation methods such as waterboarding unconstitutional and illegal, but will his Justice Department investigate or prosecute Bush administration officials who ordered or condoned such techniques?

"Will the new administration press to learn the full extent of the Bush administration's electronic eavesdropping and data-mining activities, and will it curtail or halt some of them?"


CONTINUED     1                 >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company