As President Barack Obama takes the oath of office to become our 44th President, I wonder as we all do what the next four years will bring. Here are some thoughts about the new President.
Great expectations: The country is in love with the thought of a charismatic new leader, his soaring rhetoric inspired and encouraged us and we expect a lot…probably too much.
Realistically, he will not be able to do all the things the voters expect of him, not in four years maybe not in eight. Much of presidential business is symbolic, it’s about tone…and more than anything else that’s what we need right now. We need someone to represent us before the world, to tell them “We’re back. We got off the track there for a while, forgot what made us great. We talked at you instead of with you. It didn’t work…you know it and we know it. America is open again under new management. We’re back.”
There used to be a honeymoon period with a new presidency, usually about 100 days. With the 24 hour cable news cycle and the current state of partisanship I don’t expect it to last that long with this president.
Take it to the people: One powerful ability Obama has in common with presidents Reagan and Clinton is the ability to speak to and move the public. Both Reagan and Clinton effectively bypassed congress when legislation was stalled over a political point and spoke to the country, asking Americans to call their Congressman or Senator and tell them to get on board. Obama has the same weapon in his arsenal and he shouldn’t hesitate to use it.
Take it to the world: I expect, after the new wears off a bit and the inevitable drop in the polls show the new president is a human after all that we’ll see a presidential tour of either South America, Africa, or Europe. When Americans see the huge crowds he will draw overseas they’ll remember “Hey, that’s our guy!” and the polls will climb again.
The country desperately needs new leadership, but this is not a good time to be president. We have to be realistic about how bad the situation is right now. We are in the worst financial condition most Americans have never seen, we are in two wars that are far from over and more expensive than we know. Our international prestige and influence have diminished, and our faith in ourselves is shaken. Barack Obama brings new hope for the future and a clean break with our recent past. For now that’s all he can do…and all he has to.