Finally, an adult is running things in Washington D.C. President Obama, in two short days, has begun to transform American politics and our reputation abroad with a series of mature decisions that will shape his presidency and the landscape of American politics. Instead of pretending that things are rosy all around, Obama has told all Americans that the time for sacrifice is upon us. No shopping our way out of our troubles this time. No going it solo on the world stage. No “my way or the highway” mentality.

Consider the following:

1- Announcing serious reforms regarding lobbyist behavior and standards to better ensure that the “pay to play” system of government begins to end.

2-Freezing staffer salaries in a symbolic effort to show that his people will put public service above personal profit.

3-Opening the doors to government decision and policy making and restoring a semblance of transparency to government by repealing the Bush FOIA restraints.

4-Starting the process of closing Gitmo, thus assuring the world that America is back on track vis-a-vis respecting the rule of law, both domestically and internationally.

5-Ending the practice of torture against captured foes.

6-Directing diplomacy and focused attention to be the hallmarks of our international relations.

7-Declaring that assistance to the Middle East will no longer be one-sided towards Israel, provided that the regional players all step to the table together.

And this is all in just two days. Granted, some of these things are more symbolic than substantive, but for the beginning of an administration, symbolism can mean plenty, especially when it begins to transform into reality. More than anything, Obama is telling us all that things are going to be done differently than they have been done in the past. And while many of these early signs are directed outwardly towards our international friends and foes alike, they are as important as any domestic proclamations that he could be making. The problems that face America are also the problems that are facing the world, and many can only be solved through partnerships with other nations. Partnerships…not strong-arm policies that use might without right.

From the economy to the environment to a more peaceful world, Obama can’t hope to succeed alone…indeed, going it alone has put America into one big, ugly hole. We need friends across the globe…real friends, not friends of convenience. By addressing some of the worst aggreviences of the past 8 years, Obama signals that a new day is here. Let’s hope that other nations understand this for what it is-an opportunity for progress-and that they grab hold of the potential for real change.

I admit to being less than pleased with the Obama’s initial beginnings following  his election and up to the inauguration. I’ve noted before that it might be unrealistic to expect much change with an administration staffed with career politicians. But I also noted that so long as Obama drove the ship, experienced deck hands might not be all so bad. Clearly, some of these “old timers” are taking to heart the notion that the old way of business is as dead as the telegraph.

Still, it’s only been two days. So much time remains for things to derail. But some of the hope that bouyed me through the general election, and then started to wane as we waited for the changing of the guard to become official, is returning. I don’t expect miracles (as many seemingly do), I expect progress. And for my money, these first two days of the Obama presidency have shown more promise than the last administration showed for nearly a decade.

(cross posted at Bring It On!)