Jan 212009
Authors: Richard Pandorf U. of Cincinnati

(U-WIRE) – President Barack Obama’s two-year journey to the White House has finally come to a close, but the inauguration serves not only as the end of one journey but also as the start of another.

Obama’s inaugural address was somber and alluded to the problems that currently plague our nation, but he provided hope that if we all do our part, we will prevail. Personal responsibility was a key point of Obama’s address.

“I thought Obama presented himself as knowledgeable, determined and a capable leader,” said Russel Durst, head of the department of English and comparative literature at the University of Cincinnati. “He made clear he knows the requirements of the job but also understands his own limitations and the need for others to do their part.”

The idea of public service is not new to Obama’s plan, as he cited many times on the campaign trail ideas such as college students volunteering in their community in exchange for tuition assistance.

Durst is correct in saying Obama knows his limitations; I just hope others know his limitations, as well.

Upon reading comments on the Internet, I saw the word “legacy” tossed around a good deal, some going as far as to say his legacy is already set. Obama’s legacy has only begun.

A destitute economy, perils of warfare and a warming world all pose large threats to our country. Obama’s legacy will be written as he handles those issues, along with reforms to health care, education and a myriad of other situations that require serious attention.

While all of those issues are daunting, there is great cause for optimism.

The Obama administration seems to understand the road to recovery goes through the United States, as opposed to the rest of the world.

“It’s hard to think of another administration that, right out of the gate, came with a focus on domestic policy,” said Richard Harknett, a political science professor at UC.

This focus on domestic policy is, in large part, what got Obama elected. I understand the importance in foreign policy and feel it is a priority, but the majority of Americans feel at this point that domestic policy, particularly the economy, is front and center. Obama’s focus will need to be squarely on the economy, as expectations are enormous.

In the lifetimes of many of us, we have not seen an economic crisis of this magnitude. Two million people filed into Washington for the inauguration ceremony, many of whom likely have high, borderline unrealistic expectations of Obama.

“Four years ago, just over a majority of Americans said they thought they’d be better off four years from now,” said Eric Rademacher, director of Institute for Policy Research at UC. “Now, more than 70 percent of Americans say the same.”

It’s difficult to say that we will somehow be worse off four years from now, as we are already in a dire situation, but the expectations are off the charts. Many of these expectations derive from the failures of the previous administration, from which Obama has promised to make a break.

And he will need to make that break as quickly as possible. A president never outlines specific plans for his presidency during an inaugural address, but rumors have already circulated that Obama will close Guantanamo Bay, reverse an abortion policy that prohibits U.S. money from funding international family planning groups that promote abortion, and of course, withdraw troops from Iraq.

Domestic policy is still the ultimate point that Obama must break on from the previous administration.

Obama spoke in his inaugural address of creating jobs by building roads and bridges, reforming education and investing in clean energy technology, all of which would greatly benefit our economy.

I understand the excitement around Obama’s inauguration, but many have already gotten carried away.

Obama’s presence is electrifying, but the time for speeches and rhetoric has come to an end. The time has now come for Obama to build a legacy based on his actions as well as his words.

It has been said for months that Obama seems “presidential.” It is now time to find out if he truly is.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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