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Archive for Sunday, December 14, 2008

Obama facing heady challenges that are growing only worse

December 14, 2008

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— President-elect Barack Obama, relatively young and inexperienced, is facing a rapidly growing list of monumental challenges as he prepares to take the reins of a nation in turmoil.

“I do not underestimate the enormity of the task that lies ahead,” Obama said after his historic election a little more than a month ago.

It was a sobering assessment at the time, but the country’s problems have only worsened since then. Now, Obama sounds dire, particularly as he talks about the economy: “We’re in an emergency.”

He spoke during a week in which Congress killed a bailout of the failing auto industry, the government reported that jobless claims spiked to their highest levels in more than a quarter-century, and the Treasury Department said the nation registered a record federal budget deficit for November.

With woes foreign and domestic on more fronts than even Franklin Delano Roosevelt encountered when he took office in the midst of the Great Depression, Obama will be sworn in as the country’s 44th president in January.

His leadership will be tested immediately and in many ways. His performance from the outset could well set the tone for his presidency.

Not only is Obama saddled with lingering wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that he is inheriting from President George W. Bush, but he also must deal with:

• a deepening recession in the U.S. and a spreading global economic crisis.

• an automotive industry on the brink of collapse and soaring national debt.

• increasing unemployment and its ripple effects.

• the threat of terrorism amid a historic transfer of power.

At the same time, Obama may be drawn into an unfolding political scandal over Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s alleged efforts to trade the president-elect’s former Senate seat for personal gain. The ongoing federal investigation could ensnare some of his top advisers and taint the self-styled reformer who has tried to steer clear of notorious Chicago politics.

The president-elect says he’s “absolutely confident” his aides did not try to cut deals with Blagojevich, but at the very least, the scandal is a distraction for a leader facing the magnitude of problems on Obama’s plate.

Obama also has promised an ambitious foreign and domestic policy agenda that includes withdrawing most U.S. combat troops from Iraq, cleaning up government, overhauling the health care system, fighting global warming and developing alternative energy sources.

Some priorities may fall to the wayside or be done piecemeal. But, so far, he has signaled an intent to move forward on much if not all of those plans. The question is how quickly he can accomplish his goals, while simultaneously confronting the growing list of major problems.

“There’s a lot of ground giving under him. It’s a terrific challenge,” said Fred Greenstein, a Princeton University professor emeritus of politics and a presidential historian.

“From one perspective, it’s as if he’s about to take over the captain’s job on a sinking ship. From the other perspective, he could be on a glide path to Mount Rushmore if he does a combination of morale building and energizing people while dealing with the economic distress by producing some constructive changes in the society and in the economy.

“The striking thing is he doesn’t seem scared,” Greenstein added.

Indeed, Obama exudes confidence. He has surrounded himself with people in his incoming White House and Cabinet who have decades more experience than him in government, as well as foreign and domestic policy. They include big names such as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Larry Summers, Tom Daschle and Robert Gates, longtime Washington insiders.

Comments

Patriot2 6 years ago

"And if the President does it, it's not illegal!"

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

Just look at the way the O'dude stood up against corruption in his own home city. Oh, wait, he didn't. He just went along & voted "present" to avoid getting on the wrong side of the Chicago Democratic machine.

beatrice 6 years ago

yep snap, Obama is such a terrible and corrupt individual who clawed his way out of a cesspool of political corruption, and he still beat your guy by a landslide. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Quit your nonstop whining already. Geez.

John Hamm 6 years ago

Hey beatrice! Remember "Watergate?"Illinois and Chicago politics will come back to haunt your man.One really has to wonder about why his aides are so hush-hush on the matter.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

It was the cover-up, not the original crime that felled Nixon. The O'dude should have watch "All the President's Men".

camper 6 years ago

Snap. The book was good too. The problem with corruption is that even honest folk are drawn in. If you refuse to grease someones palm or give em' a bribe, your are guilty by association if the thief ever gets caught in the future....simply if you knew him/her.If you went to Illinois and proposed opening a business, there is a good chance that you will be offered into a bribery scheme or having to supply cash under the table. Does this make you a crook?The fact is, many of these politicians are really just mobsters and they are certainly tied to organized crime. I truly believe the FBI needs to divert some of the "war on drugs" money to start going after these imbeciles. A few ficticious businessman with a wiretap going into the County Commision office will do the trick, believe me, and they will need to start building new prisons to hoard these swine.So far, Obama is associated with these thugs because he had to swim in the same tank with them....as did a minority of honest Illinois politicians. I'm with you on acknowledging the obvious corruption, but I am not sure Obama is tied in. In fact I believe he is absolved judging from the wiretaps and the fact that his choice withdrew (probably because she made it known she was offered a bribe). Obama has also made statement that he will release information about his staff's contact with the Govenor's office. Because his seat is being filled, he had to make some contact with them and it is not his fault that the unfortunate authority was a crooked funny looking foul mouthed scum with a terrible haircut, mobster, and profiteer.Furthermore, though I am an Independent (though lean Democrat), I don't care which party you come from, if you are taking money under the table, you are a crook and have failed the trust the public has placed in you to uphold the law.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

"Quit your nonstop whining already. Geez."How long did it take for the Democrats to stop whining after the 2000 and 2004 elections?Oh, wait, they never did. They're still at it.

BigAl 6 years ago

Thanks to Bushco and the corrupt right wing media, Obama is being handed a mess. I definitely miss the days when our biggest problem was Clinton and a bj in the Whitehouse. It is time for a lot of you right wingers to get out of the way while serious people try and dig us out of this mess.

AjiDeGallina 6 years ago

I feel bad for President Elect Obama.He has been left a miserable mess from the most failed and hated president in American History.I doubt even he can clean up the garbage Bush left in 4 years.

beatrice 6 years ago

snap, 2000 was a different kettle of fish -- when else did the Supreme Court decide an election? Any whining after 2004 was with regard to the continuation of Bush's policies. It was clear what Bush was up to because he was already doing it. Obama hasn't even stepped into office and all you can do is cry. Sad. I just had no idea you were such a lover of W. Yep, you and what, about 8 other Americans?

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