No Honeymoon for President-Elect Barack Obama

Photo from MSNBC
Photo from MSNBC

Or if there is one, it will be short.

The nearly universal consensus, amidst the rejoicing on Barack Obama’s landslide election victory as the 44th president of the U.S., is that he has his work cut out for him. With the American economy in shambles and wars under way in Iraq and Afghanistan, the continuing threat of terrorism and festering domestic issues like health care and energy, his plate will be full even before day 1.

Expectations are high around the world as well, as political leaders look to Obama to help forge a new “era of renewed partnership and a new multilateralism”, in the words of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy said that Obama’s election had raised “enormous hope”. Even our very own President Arroyo, whose congratulatory phone call Obama did not accept, expressed confidence that Obama will “strengthen regional cooperation” and address the concerns of Filipino World War II veterans. She was referring to the Veterans Equity Bill still pending before the U.S. legislature which seeks to increase the benefits accorded Filipino war veterans. There seems to be no constituency, near or far, which has not looked upon an Obama presidency for salvation.

There is therefore no time for the usual period of goodwill and tolerance accorded a transitioning administration, the traditional “first 100 days” where a new government is given the leeway to get its feet wet and lay a foundation for future successes. A Democratic Congress might cut him some slack but the public won’t. President Obama will be expected to deliver on his campaign promise to bring about change almost immediately, and if he stumbles, will be set upon mercilessly not only by his conservative foes but also those who pinned such high hopes on him.

As pointed out by the New York Times:

As a result, the shift from campaign trail rhetoric to halls-of-governance reality could prove turbulent. And Mr. Obama’s soaring speeches have created such a well of anticipation that there is a deep danger of letdown.

And he knows this. It’s no wonder that, as noted by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney in an interview on radio station DZBB, the president-elect, amidst the euphoria and jubilation of his supporters as he spoke in Chicago’s Grant Park, was reserved, even somber.

Added to the dangers he faces is the undercurrent of racism still prevalent in America. I’ve heard it expressed a number of times that Obama will probably be the target of many assassination attempts simply because of his color. Indeed, early attempts by fringe groups to murder him have been uncovered.

And the campaign, brutal through it may have been at times, was waged under an environment of controlled conflict. In this, Obama was cool and collected. Now comes the hard part, getting his act together under unforgiving, real-life conditions.

4 thoughts on “No Honeymoon for President-Elect Barack Obama”

  1. You’re right, no honeymoon for Obama. It will be action from the get go.

    And I think Obama will not disappoint. Its actually looking good already. The Dems are plotting a stimulus package of $300B more or less during the remaining days of the last Congress. With majority in both houses, a party mate president-elect with an ironclad mandate and a lameduck president, the Dems could nudge the Republicans into going along.

    Reports have it that an extension of unemployment benefits, a boost in food stamp funding and aid to states and municipalities are widely considered to be among the must-haves in the package along with infrastructure (for job creation). Its even probable they’ll cut check rebates for households. Hey, families need bailouts too. So there. (Spend now, tax later;-))

    Bush has promised a smooth transition and Obama will bring along some White House veterans of the Clinton years and probably some choice talents from the Republicans. Obama will not exactly grope his way coming in so there’s no reason for the honeymoon.

  2. President-elect Obama accepted congratulations from nine presidents and prime ministers Thursday, returning calls from world leaders who reached out after his presidential victory.

    In a report, Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the president-elect spoke to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

    Why didn’t he return the GMA’s call? Later on maybe?

  3. I agree with your assessment. He will live up to expectations. Just that mistakes are inevitable, specially during the first few months, and his candidacy has engendered so much hope (and hype) that anything less than a perfect batting average would be held against him.

  4. As regards his not taking GMA’s call, this is not a good sign. Obama not even sparing a few seconds to say hello to the leader of what is supposed to be the United States’ staunchest ally in this part of the world signals his displeasure at the current leadership. He doesn’t want to be associated with Arroyo, whose reputation even internationally has hit rock bottom. This is the second time Obama rebuffed GMA, the first being during the campaign. Let’s hope things improve once he settles into the Oval Office. He will realize GMA will soon be leaving and is close to being a lame-duck president. Filipino-Americans are too big a constituency to ignore and the country itself is of strategic importance, security-wise, in Southeast Asia. Obama knows this. Just that he finds it distasteful to be dealing with GMA.

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