★ Change We Can Believe In?

You'll never hear me argue that George W. Bush was a great president. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that despite public outcries to the contrary, many of his policies were logical responses to bad situations. President Barack Obama seems to recognize that fact, which is why his foreign policy during his first month in office has been less about following in his unpopular predecessor's footsteps. In fact, it's only when Obama has deviated from Bush's foreign policy that he has run into trouble and emboldened those eager to test America's resolve. A review of the Guantanamo Bay military prison conducted by the Pentagon and ordered by President Barack Obama has determined that the treatment of detainees does in fact meet the requirements of the Geneva Convention. At the same time, the Obama administration ruled on Feb. 21 that detainees being held at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan do not have rights under the United States Constitution and therefore cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. Additionally, Obama's Secretary of State and former rival Hillary Clinton boldly declared that human rights in China were secondary to economic relations, and that issues like Tibet and Taiwan wouldn't receive substantial attention in the coming years. And the man who once famously said, "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence" has given the order to send 17,000 extra U.S. military personnel into Afghanistan. That doesn't sound much like the man who fiery liberal voters elected last fall.

But that's not to say that Obama is a Bush clone. After all, I doubt that Bush would have responded to Iranian President Ahmadinejad's demand of an apology for past wrongs against Iran with the hearty "Yes I can!" that President Obama did. Obama wrote a letter to the Iranian government offering his sincerest apologies - an empty gesture that was met by an Iranian declaration that the U.S.'s newfound willingness to talk was a sign of weakness. Nor would Bush likely have allowed for Vladimir Putin's Russia to seize control of supply transportation to and from Afghanistan following Kyrgyzstan's decision to evict U.S. forces from the Manas Air Force Base. And it's hard to see George W. Bush congratulating new Venezuelan President-for-Life Hugo Chavez on overcoming those pesky democratic institutions that so often stand in the way of one man's attainment of real power. Obama was quick to pick up the phone and make that call.

Despite spending years decrying Bush's supposed shredding of the Constitution, liberals have not taken issue with Obama's continuance of the same policies. It raises an important question: what did this country vote for last Nov. 4? Did we vote for a belief structure, or did we vote for Barack Obama, who may shift his beliefs at will and even adopt the unpopular policies of his predecessor and face no reprisals? Sadly, we seem to have elected the latter. Our leaders should not receive a free pass, nor should we follow their words merely because they came from their lips. I happen to agree with President Obama's decision to continue some of George Bush's policies, but I'm a dirty Republican and a conservative to boot. If I were a liberal who voted for Obama, I would be outraged by the President's refusal to deliver the change he promised.

If you travel to Russia or China, you can view the mummified corpses of Lenin and Mao. But in America, such displays are reserved for the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In this country, we enshrine our ideals. Let's follow them, then, and expect the same of our leaders. Barack Obama has many ideas for this country, and it is important that we judge those ideas on their own merit. But it seems that for now most liberals are willing to adapt their belief structure to Obama' policies rather than ask that his policies adapt to their belief structure. That's a dangerous road, and in our present crisis, it's one we must walk with the utmost care.