Opinion

The Great Debate

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?

Comments
20 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Instant reactions are just that…it will be interesting to see if Obama can organize his government team as well as he organized his election team. Maybe he will be a leader..but maybe he is just a good communicator. Only time will tell, but his challenges are almost as great as those of Roosevelt and it took WWII to solve our economic and military problems…

The Democrats have all of the pieces, but they don’t have real leaders in the House or Senate, but neither did the Republicans.

Lets all pray…together, since it will take more power than we have…

Bill Rothschild, author of Risktaker, Caretaker, Surgeon and Undertaker the four faces of strategic leadership.

 

As person that has lived in foriegn countries for number of years and has served in the american military, I am again proud to be an american. I had lost that pride in recent years.

John

Posted by john wibel | Report as abusive
 

As a post baby-boomer American, I am both proud of the USA and concerned that the idealism that helped to elect Obama may turn to disenchantment as the size and scope of the problems that face our nation and the world becomes clear.
Democracies work best when the masses participate. That said, the masses have not always seen the wisdom of compromise as a part of governance.

Posted by Victor Sequeira | Report as abusive
 

did Obama organize his team…or was Obama organized by a team,, and sold by the media…Will the DNC be his puppet master.

Posted by old ewok | Report as abusive
 

It is true that Obama is taking office during one of the most challenging times in American history and many question his ability to govern. Although government is a very important part of the solution, it cannot be forgotten that it is only one part of that solution. The American people are the other part. The American economy will muscle its way out of this recession through the innovation, drive, and spirit of the American entrepenuers and work force; not through government bail-outs and stimilus packages. What America needs now is a leader who can ignite our passion for innovation, reform, and unity. Throughout history when times have gotten tough it was the American people who put in their own blood, sweat, and tears to pull America back on track. All Americans ever needed was hope and motivation. I believe that this election has illustrated the desires of many Americans to leave the feelings of fear, abandonment, and hopelessness behind us and look forward to a new era filled with the hope and motivation that we will need to work together and pull America out of this recession. The election of Barrack Obama offers a new sense of hope that will in turn motivate America. It is this motivation that offers the solution we are looking for.

Posted by Charles Townsend | Report as abusive
 

‘the only thing new in this world,is the history you don’t know”………Harry Truman. The body “politic” is what it is, the first African-American President is not an enviable position to be, I think I would prefer to be the 3rd or 4th, he has an un-enviable position to be…………… the world is watching…..waiting………and ever critical!
And, no or yes, he may or may not be up to the task!

Posted by jane noble | Report as abusive
 

American have cast for an change in America history. Is this change for a better or worse? Only history will tell. People who give great speech does not always come with action. Do not listen what his or her say but clearly pay attention on actions were taken.

Posted by jon doe | Report as abusive
 

Obama in just 3 years propelled himself from being an obscure young local politico into a leader of the world.Such a short span worked for him very well by providing a clean slate to the masses who could lay their hopes their aspirations and their identities on him without
actually knowing and understanding his capacity,his strength and his insight into the complexities of this world as it is.The situation which propelled him may yet become his unravelling.His public service record is relevant in just furthering his cause and what else is unknown.Does he have what it takes to make good that hope and so called change which he managed to build by the rhetoric (and the vested interest that financed it)in this cynical and self serving world?Being the President is incidental being a statesman requires selflessness and forbearance.For it is the statesman who makes history and is able to set things right however insignificant that right may be in the course of time.

Posted by Sanjeev Chadha | Report as abusive
 

Isn’t it a bit too late to be asking the questions people are now putting forth about Obama’s ability to lead our country? Shouldn’t this have been a consideration many months ago?

 

Good luck to President-elect Obama.

 

America chose a lottery ticket in a time of great uncertainty. Again the intelligence of the average American can be questioned by the world. Yet, the world did not even know this gentlemen and they wanted him to win. It seems more racial than for the greater good.

Being from Illinois I know quite well the question of Obama’s accomplishments. Sadly I also know the answer. The truth is that his accomplishments are more fluff than substance.
Since the Democrats have took over the state it is on the brink of bankruptcy.

The city of Chicago is also run by Democrats and also is in dire shape. We have the highest sales tax in the country. The tripling, quadrupling, etc of property taxes from taking old homes or warehouses and making them into condos has still not balanced the budget.

The Democrats have run congress for 4 years and the last two have been horrendous.

I hope hope Obama turns out to me than a person who takes a good picture and tells a good story. Sadly, I think his blind supporters will learn the truth and we will all pay.

God Bless America!

Posted by Kosta | Report as abusive
 

P-E Obama has just kicked off his campaign boots and is pulling on the president’s helmet. We all know, it will not be as easy for Obama as it was for George Bush, who inhereted a fairly sound economy, an intact army and a bunch of happy allies. He even inherited a warning about the dangers of terrorism.

But Obama is a coolheaded man, and I think that is why a lot of people voted for him. McCain was hopping around like Elmar Fudd during the campaign, and that is very unsettling.

About JACK AND SUZY WELCH. Jack Welch is an old reaganite. His approach to business may be good for shareholder value, but his own business values are ancient, dating back to the 19th century. Welch is a nice guy, I even talked to him recently at a press conference, but his idea of corporate responsibility is rhetorical hooey and his idea of leadership is to threaten and bully people — no matter how much he sugarcoats that.

For Welch, the environment is one big garbage can, and the fact that people have to live in that garbage can is irrelevant. GE, in Pittsfield, shut down its factories (after Reagan came to power), left 13.000 people out of work, and the Housatonic River so polluted locals (like myswelf) were not able to use it anymore…. Country First, indeed! Welch epitomizes what is wrong with the laissez-faire form of free marketeering….. it ultimately makes managers and CEOs forget the reality of real people, and those same people forget to take responsibility for their actions, esp. those that caused human suffering.

The Jack Welch school of business negates sustainability. He says that good business brings benefits to all concerned, he praises the India boom, the China boom, forgetting that the gaps between rich and poor are growing and that that could easily have a highly destabilizing effect on those societies. It is the jaw-dropped faith in trickle-down… but what is landing on the people is often a few yellowish and smelly drops, like the PCB-filled waters of the Housatonic River or the rain that once fell on Bhopal.

A magazine in Switzerland rightly nicknamed him “Jurassic Jack”.

I believe his time is up. Our future, economic and political, requires a new generation of broad and compassionate thinkers. Individuals like Obama.

Posted by Talleyrand | Report as abusive
 

Time will tell if Obama is a good, bad or mediocre President. I understand the desire for protection from the uncertainties of today’s economic mess, but as a small business owner, I hope for a balance that nurtures entrepreneurs and helps the citizens.

Posted by Julie Gross | Report as abusive
 

congratulation for him , USA people already made a history

Posted by wander | Report as abusive
 

I am a human being and a loyal American citizen (voter) born in 1953 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
I worked for the Pensylvania Department of Public Welfare as a senior auditor for approx.20 years. I audited human service Programs in the Department and also in many of the State’s 67 Counties. I also audited “supposedly non-profit Corporations” providing contracted “Human Sevices”. I am a fiscal conservative and a moderate liberal Democrat. At one time I was a registered Republican.

It took me 14 years to attain a Business Degree from the Penn State University in Professional Accountancy and pass two parts of the CPA exam. Penn State is “land grant” University initiated by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Also,in the social climate of “post 1960″, “hippie years,I traveled extensively (hitchiking/car) in the Unites States(slept at Haight/Asbury in San Francisco. I also traveled extensively in Mexico, Canada the European Country’s of England, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Spain and the former “communist” Countries of Hungary and Yugoslavia. I would like to state that 99.9% percent of the people in these countries treated me with decency and respect. I paid for my travels through digging ditches as a construction laborer, warehouse work, truck driving, gas station operator,etc. I also signed up for the Selective Service Draft in 1971.

Sorry for the miscellaneous information but I “voted” for Barack Obama for the simple reasons below:

1.) He is relatively young (47) and is extremely smart as evidenced by his Academic History.
2.) He has absorbed “information about the American people” from state to state for over two years which includes the rich, middle and poor classes.
3.) He is steady and has managed his campaign with great skill against “very determined and qualified” opponnets.
4.) He is a “good and decent family man”.
5.) He understands the global complexities of the world through his own experiences with having a white mother, black father, “home grown” Kansas grandparents, living in Indonesia and the state of Hawaii (multi cultural).
6.) He will bring a quick and honorable end to the war in Iraq. I assume by telling the Iraq leaders that they must reconcile their difference and manage a relatively “rich oil producing” country on their own.
7.) He will continue the “ending” of racial, religous, and ethnic prejudices in the United States.
8.) He will examine the Federal Government’s budget line by line (his mind is capable of this) and make cuts in “waste”, such as inefficent agencies, “lazy federal workers”, eliminate Patronage jobs for those who do not know what they are managing, spend money on jobs to improve a “failing” Nationwide infra-structure”, cut “ineffective military” weapon systems” etc.
9.) Though he “had to make deals/brown nose” with Illinois established politcians, I am assuming based on the “lessons” he learned from a a two party political system that forces you “to give up some of your ideals/soul”, that he will inspire a new poltical system (hopefully) for the upcoming “new generation”, my 17 year old daughter included.
10.) He will initiate the formation of a National Health Care System” for all Americans. This will improve the lives of “the normal middle class”, by eliminating this worry/bankruptcy. Business is tired of managing health care plans and Blue Cross/Blue Shield and other insurance companies just process paper and collect payments and yet decides who can particpate in their Programs(pre-existing conditions”. Medicare and Medicaid already do this “somewhat efficiently”. My elderly mother has her medicare bills promptly processed and paid and it does do not exclude her from coverage because she had a stroke, heart attack, etc.
10.) I voted for President Obama because he is honest, positive and not yet tainted by Washington, and did not run a “negative personal attack campaign and chose a “Joe Biden” as Vice President.

In conclusion, I did not vote for Senator McCain for many of the reasons listed above. The Republican National Committee (Rove and Cheney) twisted and turned a decent, compassionate, Patriotic Senator from Arizona into the personfication of George W. Bush who they also “twisted” in a perverse way.

I always viewed Senator McCain as a wise, non-partisan senator who loved and respected all Americans until the end. I sincerely forgive Senator McCain for being misled by “the idiots” around him (RNC). In fact I looked at him at one time in this long campaign as the embodiment of my deceased father who landed on Omaha Beach, fought through Normandy and into Germany. He received three purple hearts (George Washington on the medals) and worked for the Navy as a civilian, attaining high management status and who was involved in the development of Polaris submarine and its nuclear missiles during the “Cold War”.

God Bless, Senator Mccain for enduring the torture of the “Hanoi Hilton” and his long years of “good” Public Service in the Senate. And I know he will assist President Obama in the future.

That’s all I have to say, America and the World will survive the current recession/financial system why, because an old “hippie” turned accountant, knows it will!

Posted by John Tamalavage | Report as abusive
 

Congratulations UsofA.
As an onlooker from outside (Germany) I will be watching the forthcoming developments very closely. The key question is:
Is the President-elect Obama really the wise personality to select the best people for the right posts? – Are those best people chosen able to fill their jobs? – Are they willing to?
There is not much time to correct the multiple issues both wihtin the UsofA and abroad.

Horst “wizkid” Weidemann

Posted by Horst "wizkid" Weidemann | Report as abusive
 

I am a hedge fund manager. What is Germany?

Posted by John Blodbrett | Report as abusive
 

Many of the questions asked above can be summarized into a single question: “Will Obama be a public servant who does what’s best for the American people?”

I’m curious that we’re asking this question now. Shouldn’t we have come to a conclusion on that mystery before casting a ballot?

I made up my mind before casting my ballot.

The future isn’t really a mystery if we use our heads and know a little something about the way governments work.

Don’t ask questions like, “will Obama do…” whatever.

Start asking questions like, “how will I continue to live in the most free and American way I can despite the restrictions on personal freedom that the government, as operated under Obama’s administration, will impose?”

~Adam J.

Posted by Adam J | Report as abusive
 

Some reasons why i did not vote for obama:
1. Dishonest about his past and his beliefs
2. Befriended and coddled radicals who hate America and played a subtle race card
3. Got rid of his ‘friends’ for political reasons- now he has to deal with the danger
4. Is directly / indirectly responsible for the housing crisis. Gave money, defended ACORN, received money from mortgage companies
5. Is vulnerable to black mail because of bad associations
6. As a person he is weak, carries a lot of emotional and psychological baggage
7. Did a perfect con job because he is Not what he claims to be.

 

FROM THE BLOG AUTHOR: Charles suggests that the election of Barack Obama offers a new sense of hope that will in turn motivate America. But Victor makes the point that the idealism that helped elect Obama may turn to disenchantment as the scope of the problems facing America becomes clear. Adam says personal freedoms will be restricted under an Obama administration.
There is no doubt that great challenges lie ahead and whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or Independent, the decisions made by the new White House and Congress will have an impact on your life. Let’s change the question to this: Do you think the year ahead for you personally will be better, the same, or worse under Obama and why?

Posted by Mario Di Simine | Report as abusive
 

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