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Presidential Honeymoons and 2009


 

Israel’s commitment of ground troops in Gaza brings the crisis to a new and surely more dangerous level. Its rejection of calls for a ceasefire and Hamas’s resistance to halting rocket attacks into southern Israel mean Barack Obama will already have a major foreign policy crisis on his hands by the time he assumes office. Add to this the stimulus package and the bipartisan support Obama needs to deal with the deepening economic recession, and it is clear the new president will face the most difficult start since FDR took the oath of office in 1932.

On the domestic level, there are two political crises emerging that admittedly pale in comparison with the international and economic issues, but are nonetheless distracting and annoying to the Democratic president. Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, embattled as he is, has appointed Roland Burris as the remplacement for Obama’s senate seat. However, the Democrats are threatening to boycott Burris’ appointment because of the Illinois governor’s troubles. Meanwhile, Democrat Al Franken is about 50 votes ahead in Minnesota over the Republican incumbent and Republicans are threatening to prevent Franken from occupying his seat until all legal recourses have been exhausted.

Elsewhere, fighting in Iraq and Afganistan remains fierce. India and Pakistan have once again emerged as a significant international flashpoint for major confrontation. Al Qaeda is still a definite threat to America and its allies. Elections will also take place in Iran, India and Israel this year with certain repercussions on US foreign policy. Expectations about healthcare and global warming will not go away. And questions over bailouts and their effectiveness for the financial world and the car industry will continue to be on the carpet.

This is the world Obama will inherit on January 20. The promises and the rhetoric of his extraordinary campaign will now come face to face with the harsh reality of government. The presidential transition period, longer than in most democracies, has featured by some spectacular and impressive appointments. Even Republicans have applauded some choices. But all this is business as usual when it comes to Washington politics and presidential politics. The American public expected something more and something different from their choice for president. The expectation level now ascribed to the incoming Obama administration is sky-high.

Americans will want their new president to show leadership early. The dynamic in the Mideast will have to change dramatically if the Obama presidency is to be significant in dealing with peace and security; the economy, if it is the object of a major stimulus effort, will be expected to show clear signs of progress by mid year; and Obama will have to display a new style of leadership after years of alienation with the political class. This is the reality of 2009 and what Barack Obama must deal with. It is also why I believe the honeymoon normally afforded to a new president will be shorter than usual.


 

Presidential Honeymoons and 2009

  1. “Israel’s commitment of ground troops in Gaza brings the crisis to a new and surely more dangerous level. ”

    Depends on what you mean by dangerous. If Israelis are successful and deal significant blow to Hamas then world is a safer, and better, place.

    I think a lot of this ‘look how hard Obama has it, whatever will he do’ is just one way for the Obama apologists to have outlet for their disappointment when he crashes and burns, which he inevitably will.

    Who was the last president that didn’t face a difficult situation in Middle East and India/Pakistan? Obama does have some challenges to face for sure but that’s the nature of the job.

    And you forgot Richardson resignation. Has any incoming President been involved in so many scandals before he even took office?

    • You are right about tough situations for other presidents .
      What other scandal?
      Blago is not his ,no matter how hard some try.
      John may have a point about dangerous.
      My fear is another 2006 where Israel did not really succeed with hezbollah gaining in power and that just leads to more violence .

    • Which scandal is Obama ‘involved’ in?

      • i have no idea. Even Richardson has nothing to do with Obama except being named by him . i think jwl does not like Obama,so he may be making it up .Who knows?

  2. Isreal is such a good friend of America, isn’t it? All those loyal years of American support and how do they show their appreciation? To cloud Obama’s inauguration with terrorism, while claiming that they are doing something that is ‘in the interests of the global community’. Which global community is that? The ‘Friends of Isreal’ global community? I think all the global community is hoping for a prosperous change of the guard in America so that the money stays stable. But good old Israel, like a spoiled child in a family, acts out their drama to take centre stage.

  3. Rats : JWL said it for me. Not only would Obama be stupid if he even comments on this issue until he is crowned but he would be crazy as well. What we will see from Obie is the public wringing of hands and assorted pleas for a cease to violence specific to the area as well as general to the world. Once the Crown has been placed on his head I imagine the next step will Hillary off to the Rescue – I would love to be a fly on the wall for that meeting.

  4. Blagojevich has been so successful at making himself and his office look ridiculous that about a million people are now able to remember and maybe even spell his crazy name — that’s sort of like an accomplishment, right?

  5. I think John is right though- Obama’s honeymoon will indeed be short and I’m sure no matter what stances he takes, he will be heavily criticized and questioned. I’m sure John believes Obama will deal with all this very well, but I remain skeptical.

    Oh and JWL, dealing Hamas a blow will make the world a safer place is such a naive statement. I know you like to make this Israel good and Hamas bad. But seriously, you can’t really believe its that clean cut and Israel is the only victim here. Somehow I suspect Obama’s challenge will lie in balancing his public support for Israel and his own conscience….

    John, I agree with above statements- what scandals? I think he’s done a pretty good job of steering clear of the Richardson resignation and the Blago appointment. All in all, he’s going in pretty clean, but it won;t take long until mud is flung at him….

    • goog is just picking on jwl and his sensible view of Israel
      is goog just anti-israel.

      • I’m just anti-killing innocent school children. That’s all.

        • Sounds like the usual left wing gabble . Rockets came from the school.Hamas uses these kids as bait.

          • Right on Joe . Goog is probably part of the pro Hamas lobby .

          • So that justifies it? So let me get this, say a known terrorist group blows up a building in downtown Chicago, then holes up in an elementary school down the block. The US govt should bomb the school to get the terrorists???? Looks like same Right-wing bs as usual- Israel can do no wrong, Palestine has no right to exist, and all Arab should be wiped off the face of the earth.

  6. I agree with Goog. If Hamas is sending rockets from the school, you send in a tactical team and try to take them out. I understand this puts your soldiers at risk and it is much safer to throw a bomb at the school. But there are children in that school. You take the risk and try to disarm and limit civilian casualities.

    • Karlwhatever,I cannot agree with you . This is a war . Not much time to react when they are shooting your way .

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