“Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job”
—Recent headline from The Onion newspaper
It may seem like Barack Obama has been president of the United States for weeks, if not months. And that may be a good thing. But the reality is that this Tuesday is when he will officially stand up and take the reins as President of the United States of America. Thank you.
According to polls, most people agree that George W. Bush was a pretty awful president. No argument from here. But, in an attempt to look for something positive to say… even after doing something good like protecting 330,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean by designating the areas as national monuments, W will never have to worry about which pose to strike for Mt. Rushmore. We can be glad his eight years are over.
When Barack Obama was asked last fall why, given the direction of the country’s economy and the growing mess in the Middle East, he would want the job of president, he responded that it was the best time to get the job. There was a lot of opportunity, he opined. Man, is there ever opportunity…
He is already acknowledging that things are probably more difficult than he had anticipated on almost every front.
The economy is worse than he thought. “As we learned this week, we are inheriting over a trillion-dollar deficit. Unheard of in recent history. This is a big problem, and it’s going to get worse. I want to be realistic here. Not everything that we talked about during the campaign are we going to be able to do on the pace we had hoped,” he said last weekend.
The Middle East is worse than he thought. “I think that Iran is going to be one of our biggest challenges,” the president-elect said Saturday, warning a nuclear-armed Iran “could potentially trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” He continued, “On day one, we have the best possible people who are going to be immediately engaged in the Middle East peace process as a whole.” And he also added that the recent Bush focus isn’t totally off the mark: ”I think that if you look not just at the Bush Administration, but also what happened under the Clinton Administration, you are seeing the general outlines of an approach.”
Guantanamo is more complicated than he had hoped. “It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize—and we are going to get it done—but part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom who may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication,” he said.
The party of the late 1990s and early 2000s is over. Hopefully you had some fun. Huge challenges now lie ahead for America. But Barack Obama appears to be smart, practical and unafraid. Unlike Harry Reid in the Senate, who was outsmarted by the impeached governor of Illinois, and Nancy Pelosi in the House, who too often looks like such an ideologue that she would prefer nothing ever get done if a Republican says it might be a good idea, Obama is meeting challenges with dignity and thought. He is finding a radical center and wants to lead the country, not just his political party. Again, thank you.
Here is what Obama said last Sunday: “But our general philosophy is we don’t have pride of authorship. If people have better ideas on certain provisions, if they say, you know, this is going to work better than that, then we welcome that. And so we’re going to have a collaborative, consultative process with Congress over the next few days.”
It is refreshing to hear that type of thinking.
By all accounts, the next few years look like they will not be easy. He has warned all of us of the need for sacrifice, not just the need to go shopping. We need an intelligent communicator leading this country in such times.
And so it is with great hope, excitement and joy we look forward to Tuesday’s historic inauguration of the next President of the United States.