Thursday, December 25, 2008

President-Elect Obama

Welcome aboard. We have been preparing ourselves over the last month and a half for the fact that our new president is going to be Barack Obama. Now that we have him, what have we got?

Mr. Obama is now enjoying the euphoria and optimistic anticipation which normally ensues after the election of a new president. The small Democratic majority in the Senate and House gives him room to work. I remind you, however, the President Carter had a substantial majority in the Senate and Congress, and the Democrats proved that they could squabble among themselves as effectively as with the Republicans. There are differences, however. The Republican party has successfully taken over seats in Congress and the Senate that had previously been held by conservative Democrats. The Democrats may not be as fractured as before when conservative Democrats were a larger part of their caucus.

The question I want to pose, is what should we expect of our new President? Here are some thoughts:

- The experience issue is vastly overrated. In 1860 the country elected a president who had been a one term congressman and a member of the Illinois legislature. He turned out all right. The fact is that there is very little a person can do to be "qualified" for the presidency other than actually do the job. There is none other like it. Obama is extremely bright. Do you understand how capable and brilliant a person must be to be elected Editor in Chief of the Harvard Law Review? His language is measured and reflective. I believe he has the raw material to be a good president.

- Do not be overly concerned about campaign rhetoric. My father used the say that when a politician gets on the train, he gets off the platform. Most presidencies are marked by issues and events that have little to do with the issues that dominate the campaign. Obama himself has been quoted as saying that presidencies are controlled by ninety per cent circumstances and ten per cent agenda. The job takes the man to strange places. Examples: Who would have expected that a China baiting, Communist hating senator from California would ultimately open the door for stronger economic and political relations between the United States and China (and we are still feeling many positive effects of that dramatic move). Who would expect that a Texas senator who filibustered against Civil Rights legislation on several occasions would bring about a sea change in racial relations when he became president our country? And then what about 9/11? Nobody contemplated the event or the way its has changed our country or the presidency of W. Obama has already been confronted with an economic crisis of epic proportions. We do not know what Mr. Obama will be called upon to do. We must hope that Obama he has the character, wisdom and ability to do the job.
- I hope that he will not succumb to the tendency of the Democrats towards protectionism. We are living in a world economy. Tom Friedman eloquently made the point when he coined the phrase that the world is flat. Our borders are becoming less and less important. We cannot afford to back off from our position as the world leader in that flat economy.
If you have a wish list for our new President Elect, let me hear from you. Have a Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think this is a good assessment of Obama, and (per your example), the experience factor is somewhat of a moot point. I'd be willing to bet that Mr. Obama is as bright of an individual to hold this office as we have ever had...and his engagement and depth of knowledge in regard to numerous issues is evident and comforting. This alone does not gurantee success, but I think it is a good start!