President Barack Obama begins his administration with one of the highest public approval records in modern time — second only to John F. Kennedy.
A new Gallup poll shows 68 percent of those surveyed approve of Obama’s job performance so far — a better initial score than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or even Ronald Reagan.
The numbers also mean Obama must meet high expectations from a public that is expecting results.
While the presidential campaign and President Barack Obama’s initial post-election formal statements have focused heavily on the economy, national security arguably is where the new administration has the greatest independent authority — and faces the most significant challenges, directly involving life and death decisions.
It was a distinct privilege for this political scientist — indeed this American — to be in Washington D.C. this week for the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama. In an age of persistent and pervasive change, this one instinctively feels most welcome — and much warranted.
In a swift, bold move, President Barack Obama put an end to former President George W. Bush’s war on the Constitution and freedom, ending his predecessor’s so-called "war on terror" and signaling to the world that, from now on, the United States will abide by the rule of law.
A prison at Guantanamo Bay would have made sense if it had been run as a normal prisoner of war camp, subject to the Geneva Conventions and international inspection. Instead, it doubled as an interrogation center subject to its own arbitrary rules. The intense secrecy only gave credence to tales of prisoner abuse, founded or unfounded, and this in turn was compounded by the Bush administration’s plans for one-sided trials.
Now the hard part begins.
Following the promise must be the delivery and that will be daunting.
There is the banking crisis and the housing crisis and the auto crisis and the job crisis and the credit crisis and the panic crisis and the energy crisis and the global warming crisis and the myriad of overseas crises including two wars, all of them separate but linked. Welcome to the Oval Office, Mr. President.
After delivering a startlingly change-oriented inaugural address, President Barack Obama is finding out that change is possible but it is not easy.
Obama’s 2,396-word, new-era-of-responsibility speech, in the presence of 1.8 million mesmerized Americans and heard via television and the Internet by millions around the world, was a firm, fierce indictment of the policies of the past eight years.
In his first full day as President, Barack Obama went to work dismantling former President George W. Bush’s policies and imprint upon the federal government.
A freeze on enforcing the tidal wave of pending regulations signed by Bush in his final days in office, a meeting with Pentagon officials to start work on withdrawal from the Iraq war, closing the controversial prison at Guantanimo, freezing White House pay and new restrictions on lobbying were among Obama’s initial moves.
And more will come in the coming days, weeks and months.
Can we get back to normal now? Can we get down to addressing the myriad of problems that plague us? Can our feet touch the ground and our minds grasp reality?
Being in Washington this past week has been like living in a dream world, where everyone’s excited, happy, rich, starry-eyed, star-studded and fancy free. This is nothing like the real United States where stocks have lost trillions of dollars in value, credit is ridiculously tight, unemployment is at record highs, houses are being ripped out from under defaulting owners and jobs do not exist.
Inaugurations are extraordinary events. They are as much for the people as for the new president, which is as it should be. We the people want to be involved, and not just because we are desperate for entertainment in the dead of winter.
When you stop to think about it, most of us will go through life without ever being inaugurated for anything, let alone president of the United States.