Saturday, January 17, 2009

Who is Obama?

President Elect Obama will be President in three days. America’s hopes and expectations lie in the Senator.

We know the community organizer; we know the candidate who ran for President for two years; we know the gifted orator, but we do not know the man or the person. It is much too early to beatify Obama.

Is he the social activist who used the left wing of the Democratic Party to jumpstart his political career?

Is he a closet pragmatist, as shown by his appointments in defense, foreign policy, and the economy?

We don’t know.

On January 20, 2009 the Senator will be inaugurated our President. Is he decisive? His career has been spent dodging controversial votes. No more voting present on difficult issues; no more resigning early from the Senate to avoid votes; no more standing still like the sphinx; no more smiles like the Cheshire cat or Gioconda; no more deferring tough international issues to the current President; no more photo ops.

Candidate Obama clearly talks the talk, but will President Obama walk the walk?

He will learn that criticism is easy for a candidate, but the viable options as President are limited.

The time to duck issues is over.

He must act and decide – decisively and firmly. The White House is not the place for deep introspection.

He will learn why Presidents visibly age in office.

So who is Obama?

He may drape himself in the mantle of Lincoln, but he is no more Lincoln than he is FDR or JFK. If he succeeds, he will be known to history as Obama with the name pronounced with reverence. If he fails, he will be known to history as Obama, as in “Obama – the failed Presidency.”

Obama, the skillful candidate was a sitting Senator when he ran, but his campaign was that of an outsider.

Will he be the outsider who finally brings a fresh perspective, comity and bipartisanship to Washington? Or is simply a consummate insider?

He ran on a platform of change (Don't they all?), but is he for change?

His appointments, starting with Vice President Elect Biden, are those of an insider with the core appointees being from the Clinton Administration.

We know Obama loves personal spectacles, but is there a backbone behind the soaring rhetoric?

How will he respond when he loses the adoration of Americans, as he most assuredly will because our expectations are unrealistic?

How will he respond when his long honeymoon (and it will be long) ends?

What is the life span of Obamamania?

How will he respond when his words and those of Vice President Biden are parsed by a no-longer fawning media?

How will he respond to a reenergized GOP and substantial mid-year losses?

Which campaign promise will Obama break first (as all Presidents do)?

Will it be tax credits for new employees?

Will the earmark king block future earmarks?

Will it be opposition to coal and nuclear?

Will it be effectively closing down Gitmo?

When will he pull out of Iraq?

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