The Obama challenge

November 5, 2008

obamaAmerica wakes up today to a new era in its political history. And as Barack Obama prepares to take office, he will have to wrestle with these facts of life: the economy is either in recession or teetering on the brink of one, and the U.S. is embroiled in two wars.

Across the Web, a plethora of voices are dissecting the campaign . In a BusinessWeek piece, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch makes his position clear, saying John McCain’s economic platform made better sense for business, and that business leaders could take away three lessons from the election: Have a clear, consistent vision; make few mistakes; and have friends in high places.

Over at the New York Times, an editorial concludes that Obama’s triumph was decisive because “he saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens.” It also points out some of the challenges facing the president-elect: “Tens of millions of Americans lack health insurance, including some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens — children of the working poor. Other Americans can barely pay for their insurance or are in danger of losing it along with their jobs. They must be protected.”

Across the Atlantic, interest in the election has also been high. British newspaper The Independent wonders whether Obama will be “a modern-day Franklin D Roosevelt, who pulled the US back up over the economic precipice, or will he be a disastrous copy of his predecessor, Herbert Hoover?”

And Edward Luce, writing for the Financial Times, says: “Faced with a mountain of domestic and global problems that would have taxed the leadership skills of America’s greatest presidents, Mr Obama will have to act swiftly to justify the faith his country’s voters have placed in him.”

In Asia, Kent Ewing says in the Asia Times Online that “it is once again cool to be an American living abroad,” giving voice to the anger many foreigners harbor against George W. Bush.

What’s your view? Beyond the history-making, President-elect Obama must still govern. Given the challenges of today, how will he do? Will he live up to expectations?

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