- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2008



Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. That is a common phrase which undoubtedly should be applied to the incoming Obama administration’s handling of Bush policies. Despite Democratic rantings of “failed leadership,” there is plenty worth salvaging.

President Bush set precedent by appointing the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history. Mr. Obama represents the diversity of America, and we’re confident that his Cabinet and administration appointments will continue the diversity fostered by Mr. Bush. Of course, diversity doesn’t just include skin color and gender, but ideology, and Mr. Obama has promised bipartisanship in that regard. We hope so.

Mr. Bush’s first act in office was to close the widening achievement gap between black and white students — a mandate that skin color should not be an impediment to learning. No matter the few missteps that came with the No Child Left Behind Act, it has worked. Great strides have been made. As the nation’s education report card indicates: “Math scores for 4th and 8th graders and the reading scores for 4th graders are at historic highs and the biggest gains were made by African American and Hispanic students.” The next step for Congress and the president-elect is to expand NCLB to high school students and reauthorize what is currently on the table. Combined with school choice, through charters and vouchers, the path to education reform must continue.

Another success story is Mr. Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which includes a portfolio of programs — such as HIV/AIDS relief, the Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, Fatherhood and Marriage Initiatives and teen abstinence programs. Mr. Obama is not a supporter of the D.C. Scholarship Program, which offers vouchers to low-income families, and he has been vague about abstinence education and how he will realign faith-base initiatives. These programs are not only widely popular with conservatives (Democrats and Republicans included), but highly successful for all who have been the beneficiaries — and our country is better for it. While we respect presidential discretion, it is our recommendation that Mr. Obama find common ground to maintain these programs.

And then there are judges. We acknowledge that Messrs. Bush and Obama are diametrically ideological opposites on this matter. And while we would be flabbergasted that a President Obama would appoint conservative judges to the bench, we do implore that he respect the spirit of the Constitution and resist the urge to appoint judges and justices who seek to legislate from the bench. Mr. Bush has made stellar appointments to the Supreme Court in Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. We can only hope the Obama administration would recognize and respect, not reinvent, the role of our justices.

Finally, as politicians tend to, Mr. Obama has frequently joined his cohorts in criticizing Mr. Bush. As The Washington Times’ Ben Feller observed in Thursday’s editions: “During the campaign, Obama relentlessly blistered the Bush administration for what he called failed, tired policies that have harmed the country.” Instead of name-calling and finger-pointing, we recommend forward-thinking solutions wrapped in presidential respect.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to hold his first post-election press conference Friday, and he will meet with Mr. Bush on Monday. We would hope, rhetoric and “bath water” aside, the “baby” will remain an integral part of the president-elect’s new agenda.

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