Great Expectations: Obama Will Have to Deliver [VIDEO]
November 6th, 2008
"The road ahead will be long," Obama warned. "We may not get there in one year or even one term."
Over and over, Barack Obama told voters if they stuck with him "we will change this country and change the world." They did, and now their expectations for him to deliver are firmly planted on his shoulders. Many supporters greeted his victory with euphoria.
But campaign rhetoric soon collides with the gritty duties of governing, and hard realities stand in Obama's way.
The youthful president-elect appears to know this. His victory speech emphasized humility far more than his fabled confidence, with remarks heavily leavened by references to the difficulties before the nation.
He declared "change has come to America" and closed with his "yes we can" campaign slogan, but not before speaking of the certainty of setbacks. "The road ahead will be long," Obama warned. "We may not get there in one year or even one term."
Atop Obama's challenge list is the global and domestic turmoil that he inherits. None of it is his own making, but it will shape his presidency before he lifts one finger.
The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Two wars in unstable, hostile lands. Other foreign hot spots such as Pakistan and Congo, nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran. A warming planet.
Then there are high health care and energy costs, sunken home values, wiped-out retirement and investment accounts. A federal deficit that is exploding as the nation throws money at its economic problems, sure to crimp Obama's ability to spend his way to solutions.
Once the changeover happens, those who believed his "change we can believe in" slogan will want things to move quickly.
How might he go about it?
As a lawmaker, he has displayed a knack for working with Republicans on a handful of favorite issues. Further, the much-vaunted technological side of Obama's campaign means he could appeal directly to voters around recalcitrant lawmakers, using e-mail, text messages, Facebook and other tools.
Still, Obama's honeymoon with the public — both anxious and hopeful — could be fragile.
"I came down here to make a prayer ... that we'll be able to change the nation and the world," said Hollis Gentry.
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