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For Obama, The honeymoon’s Over

by Archives November 11, 2008

The easy part is over. Barack Obama succeeded in transforming his mantra from “Yes We Can” into “Yes We Did.” After an endless campaign, in one giant sigh of relief, Americans made history.
Now comes the hard part.
Let’s set aside Obama’s campaign promises for a while. For now, there are crises that need dealing with. Facing him is a plethora of issues threatening America and the world, many of which having the potential to wholly consume a president’s time taken all on their own.
At the top of Obama’s agenda is the financial crisis. His current plan focuses on helping those worst affected: the middle-class. But while his goal is laudable, it remains uncertain however whether the President and Congress can have much impact on the inherent structural problems in the global financial system. If there’s money to be made, even imaginary money, can regulation really constrain the bloodlust of CEOs and speculators? New laws simply mean new loopholes.
Then there’s Iraq. In a New York Times op-ed piece published in July 2008, Obama wrote that on his first day in office, he would order the military to end the war. This goal would be accomplished by steadily withdrawing all combat troops within 16 months. With all the news generated by the economy, it’s easy to forget that Obama’s candidacy was launched on the basis of his opposition to the war. His final decision regarding this issue is crucial, as it will be the litmus test that proves whether he can keep his word or not. Ending the Iraq War will save the United States vast amounts of money, build credibility abroad and save thousands of Iraqis from a terrible fate, but Obama will have to navigate between a too-slow withdrawal which alienates his base, and a knee-jerk retreat that increases violence throughout the country.
Once these current crises have been tempered, the President-elect will need to tackle climate change. Reconciling the scientific community with a once-hostile White House. Obama’s ambitious energy plan targets both America’s growing carbon dioxide emissions and its energy shortage, but will also reform a lax culture of conservation, which is just as crucial. His proposed solution have involved investing heavily into green infrastructure and renewable sources of energy. Dubbed the Apollo Program’s modern equivalent, the plan’s goals are nothing less than slashing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and eliminating America’s dependence on Middle East oil in 10 short years. However, since Obama has four, perhaps eight years maximum in which to enact his plan, he will be forced to leap onto some more measurable goals if he wants to remain credible.
To make matters worse, underwriting all these huge policy initiatives is a wounded, angry Republican party. Though thoroughly trounced in last week’s election, the GOP is going to make sure they throw every obstacle into President Obama’s path.
Only after solving the above can Obama turn his attention to the issues on which he built the majority of his campaign: America’s failing health care system, its aging population, immigration policy, education, the budget deficit, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Americans asked for leadership, vision, integrity, courage and yes, hope. “Yes we can” Barack Obama. The question now is “Can you as well?”

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