Today, reality sets in. Washington D.C. in no longer a celebratory center, it’s back to being the nation’s political hub — beginning with executive orders that will undoubtedly stir the fires of discontent among the new president’s loyal opposition.
That’s to be expected. President Barack Obama has taken over after eight years of policies he directly opposes, during a time of economic crisis that demands quick action. Ready or not, change is coming — sometimes, as is the case today, with the stroke of a pen; other times with the full power of legislative lawmaking.
Up until a couple of years ago, the majority of Republicans on Capitol Hill lined up in lockstep behind their president, making a joke of congressional oversight duties, and they paid dearly it. In 2006 they lost control over Congress, and last year they lost everything.
That lesson is not likely to be lost on the Democrats, who are naturally more unruly anyway. Even when President Obama was only President-elect, Nancy Pelosi and others were raising questions and objections to Obama’s proposals. Clearly the Dems won’t roll over, and that’s a good thing. The nation needs an assertive Congress to keep the checks-and-balances system in place.
Obviously, the deepening recession is at the top of the Obama agenda, but other pressing issues need be wrapped up in his economic recovery efforts. The nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, and our dependence on oil is killing the environment — the nation need to create new jobs and reshape our energy policy at the same time. Moreover, health care — a leading cause of personal bankruptcies — must not be placed on a back burner while other economic issues are addressed.
Internationally, Obama has nowhere to go but up. Iraq is a quagmire, Afghanistan has been neglected and the entire Middle East is in desperate need for reasonable diplomacy. Obama appears to have his priorities straight, promising the responsible withdrawal from Iraq, more effective fighting in Afghanistan and the well-prepared Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Progress toward sustained peace won’t be easy, but Obama is well equipped to lead us out of the last eight years.
Given such perilous circumstances, Obama has the chance to be a superb president. In crises, opportunities abound. From here on out,
Obama must prove himself. The celebration is over; the work begins. Godspeed, President Obama, if ever we needed greatness, it’s now. Here’s hoping you will deliver.