President Barack Obama comes into the job with the second highest public approval rating in modern times — second only to John F. Kennedy.

He enjoys widespread acclaim, grudging appproval from Republicans and more hoopla than any President in memory.

Obama certainly has the intelligence, the charisma and the team to deliver on expectations but the question must be asked: Can anyone deliver on what is both expected and needed to deal with the daunting problems facing this nation?

I believe he can but only if the system that still controls Washington allows him to achieve his goals and only if politics doesn’t get in the way of pragmatism.

Those are two big "ifs" in a town where politics rules and the system rewards those who put their own interests ahead of what’s best for the nation.

Republicans are already gearing up for their role as the loyal opposition, demanding that their agendas be satisfied in exchange for support on the economic stimulus plan.

Lobbyists — the real power structure in Washington — are already exploiting loopholes built into the system to sneak earmarks and special interest legislation into the economic plan.

Already, Obama is learning how the system can hurt even the most ambitious and coureageous of plans. Just two days after he announced a timetable to close the scandal-ridden prisoner compound at Guantanamo Bay the Pentagon dropped a report saying prisoners released from the prison are up to their turbans in plotting new acts of violence against the United States.

Republicans are already rubbing their hands with glee and hoping the U.S. will be hit by another terrorist attack so they can point fingers and say "see…we told you this guy was soft on terrorism."

Such is the nature of how we elect and treat leaders of our nation.

We look and pray for a savior, a dynamic leader on a white horse to ride into Washington and slay the political dragons of power, corruption and greed.

Then we watch in mock surprise when the system fells our knight of hope and sends him crashing to earth.

Obama leads a crusade of hope into town but the odds favor the dragons.

Let’s hope he beats the odds. I’m betting he can.

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