Published 10:58 pm Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Obama’s hope for the
future begins today
At noon today, the world will watch as Barack Obama takes the oath of office as America’s 44th president.
For the hopeful millions who are expected to descend on the National Mall and the many more who will witness the event on television, Obama is that singular personality who can unite Americans regardless of their race, religion or politics.
That his inauguration comes a day after the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is especially fitting. King, who died pursuing racial equality, but didn’t live long enough to see it, would have rejoiced over today’s monumental milestone. And like King, Obama faces staggering challenges as he takes the reins of office, and certainly racial equality is among Obama’s goals, though the country has come a long way since King’s day.
This new president, though, faces a variety of other issues that few presidents before him have had to immediately tackle.
Strengthening the economy is probably atop Obama’s to-do list. With in some cases unprecedented unemployment, instability of financial institutions, stock market doldrums and manufacturing stagnation, Obama is facing a crisis some economists say is the worst since the Great Depression.
To his credit, Obama jumped on this issue well before he took office. An initially skeptical Congress is now paving the way for the new president’s two-year, $825 billion economic recovery plan that would provide billions of dollars for renewable energy, lower taxes for all Americans but the wealthy, computerized medical records and modernized schools.
Economist are divided on whether the stimulus package will work or for how long, but as we’ve seen so far, the issues are complex and nothing is a sure bet.
Obama must also confront the continuing Iraq war, commit resources to fight terrorism in the Middle East, shore up diplomatic relations with other countries, figure out how to provide affordable health care for all Americans, and while he’s at it find cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and the common cold.
And lest we forget: The man is only human.
He’ll make mistakes, to be sure, but he’s gathered around him an exceptionally talented, broad-minded group of advisors we’re convinced he’ll rely on when warranted.
So good luck, Mr. President. This is your time.
Make the most of it.