Sunday, December 28, 2008

Never have hopes been higher – and never has the job been tougher

Whatever one thinks of Barack Obama one would have to concede that the challenges he faces are almost unprecedented:

Never has an incoming President been confronted by as daunting an array of problems as the untried former Senator from Illinois.

Others have been put to stern test. Abraham Lincoln faced looming civil war when he took office in March 1861. In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt had to drag the country out of the Great Depression, an economic crisis worse even than the one Obama must deal with now. But for the 44th President, 2009 will be the year of multi-tasking. The unfinished business of two wars, and a dislocating economic downturn, are only the first items on his agenda. Around the globe, especially in the Middle East and South Asia, other crises simmer.

Hardly less pressing is the need to tackle the ever more glaring inadequacies of the United States's health and education systems, and at last to set about reducing the country's ruinous and unsustainable addiction to imported oil. But even these vast domestic challenges pale beside the global challenges – among them global warming, and the gulf between the world's rich and poor, that the economic downturn will only widen. In each case, action is essential, and soon.

But, as Rupert Cornwell points out in an excellent article in today's Independent, the American people appear to have great faith that he can pull this off.
A Washington Post poll before Christmas found almost 70 per cent of Americans to be "optimistic" about Obama's policies over the next 12 months.
As Cornwall points out, one of his greatest challenges - ending the virulent anti-Americanism which has swept the globe thanks to the unilateral swaggering of the neo-cons - has already largely been achieved simply by the very fact of Obama's election.

Few US presidents start their time in office with such a groundswell of international support. Indeed, world leaders are going out of their way to pledge that they will do all that they can to assist him.

Having watched this guy flawlessly run his campaign and then equally flawlessly fashion his transition team, I have every hope that Obama is equal to the many challenges ahead.

However, he is not superman, nor, as many Europeans would like, will he ever cease to put American interests before our own.

But he at least starts with the right priorities and, from what we have so far heard, the right ideas for addressing the myriad of problems that impact on all of our lives whether we be Americans or not.

At this point we can ask for no more and should simply thank God that we don't have a President McCain continuing the same failed policies which led us to this morass in the first place.

Click title for Cornwell's article.

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