Obama's challenges

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By The Staff

Given the situation President-elect Barack Obama is being handed, one might wonder if, in winning, he lost. It will be a difficult task to overcome the military and economic challenges he faces, and he has only four years to demonstrate that he’s up to the task before the voters judge his work.

Militarily, Obama has promised to systematically withdraw American troops from Iraq, but he’ll have to do it in a way that doesn’t destabilize the country or region. And any cost savings that brings will be diluted by the president-elect’s other promise — to beef up U.S. forces in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and go after Osama bin Laden. No matter how you cut it, success in the Middle East won’t be easy.

As for the economy, the lack of a stabilizing stock market lends itself to the idea that the $700 billion bailout, which Sen. Obama supported, is not only unpopular but may not work. Labor statistics came out last week saying that 200,000 jobs disappeared in October alone. Compare that to the 760,000 jobs lost from January through September and it’s not hard to see that, while the economy has been sinking all year, it’s getting worse in a hurry.

President Obama will have to act fast — and it appears he will. In a mid-October interview with Time magazine’s Joe Klein, Obama gave emphasis to “a government-propelled transition to an alternative-energy economy.”  That’s more than intriguing, it’s exciting, and Obama may be just the president to pull it off — if he can keep Washington from messing it up.

One of Obama’s advantages — something this nation hasn’t seen in decades — is the ability to mobilize people into action. That’s how he won election. If he calls upon the American people to be innovative, and ignites our already ingrained entrepreneurial spirit, to reshape our energy production and consumption, people will respond.

In other words, Obama could tap into the strength of the American character. Hard work, creativity and invention have always lifted us up — while an overdependence on oil has brought us down.

The U.S. could get a “twofer” out of such a policy. We could rebuild our economy AND wean ourselves off foreign oil, thereby reshaping both our domestic and foreign policies — not to mention helping to save the earth in the process.

Attacking our energy needs with creative and eco-friendly approaches makes sense in so many ways. If successful, Obama could lead this nation out of its crises and into a new era of peace and prosperity. And if that were to happen, Obama’s win would be an indisputable victory for us all.