As most of the world knows, on Tuesday, January 20th, Barack Obama will be sworn in as our 44th and first Afro-American President and Joe Biden will be sworn in as our new Vice President. George Bush will presumably retire to his new home in Dallas, Texas, and Dick Cheney will apparently move back to his home near Casper, Wyoming.
Both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge that Mr. Obama, originally considered a long-shot to win, ran one of the most effective major political campaigns in recent memory. It's noteworthy that his nominee for Secretary of State, Senator Hillary Clinton, no doubt would have been the country's first female President had Mr. Obama not been a candidate, had he not run such a strong campaign, or if Mrs. Clinton had been able to manage a somewhat stronger campaign herself.
President Obama's presidency from the first day faces perhaps the most complex and difficult number of challenges of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932, having to lead the country out of the Great Depression and later with the horrors of World War II. The widely accepted biggest challenge for Mr. Obama, similar to Mr. Roosevelt, is, of course, to turn the U. S. economy around, especially by further stabilizing the financial markets, restoring confidence, and promoting measures in both the private and government sectors to create and preserve millions of needed jobs. It will be a great challenge for several major reasons, including the facts that we are facing a mountain of national debt, a huge federal budget deficit, deep economic recessions in almost all our main trading partners, and retrenching by the majority of our largest companies, hinding employment gains and important corporate investment spending.
The long list of other big challenges include dealing with our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world-wide war on terror, the violent conflict between Israel and Hamas, supported by Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon, serious tensions between India and Pakistan, the needs to reform and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, securing a greater degree of energy independence, and finding bipartisan solutions to the weaknesses in our present healthcare system. That's just a partial listing. The challenges are reflective of the simple fact that as a country we're in a tight jam without enough money and resources to cover serious needs. To get out of this predicament we will no doubt need to tighten our belts quite a bit more and make sacrifices that will have at least a temporary adverse impact on our quality of life.
Popular political commentator Bill O'Reilly recently stated boldly that President Obama will be reelected in four years if he only is able to get the economy turned satisfactorily around and the country suffers no terrorist attacks. While those would be judged as major achievements, I doubt that would be sufficient for reelection, and I'm fairly certain Mr. Obama is not concerned or even thinking about that at this stage. He has an incredible amount of difficult work to do and most probably he will take it one day, one week, one month, one year at a time.
Fortunately, he is a very bright and articulate politician, who has assembled, for the most part, a very experienced and strong team of advisors and cabinet members. We can be thankful for that. Hopefully he will deserve and obtain broad bipartisan support from the Congress, the media, and the great majority of the American people. While he has has been frequently branded by the far right and many other conservatives as a leftist, socialist and a typical liberal, I'm increasingly confident that he will govern as a very pragmatic moderate centrist on most issues, even though when it comes to healthcare, for example, he will likely, as is well known, be governing somewhat left of center.
It will take some time to turn the economy around, perhaps as long as 12-18 months, and to make good progress on many of his other big challenges, but I'm cautiously optimistic that he will be reasonably successful overall. Especially during the first several months, he will help himself and the country by scheduling weekly press conferences in which he explains what he is doing and why, and is very open to questions from the press corps. Meanwhile, the business sector, the state, county and city governments, and we as individuals need to do what we can within our own control to move ourselves in a positive direction and help Mr. Obama and his administration to succeed, thereby benefiting us all.