President-elect Barack Obama rode a wave of hope and excitement into the White House and hopes for the success of his administration are high. In an interview on the CBS News program 60 Minutes, Mr. Obama had an opportunity Nov. 16 to speak to the nation and offer a glimpse into his thinking and early priorities.
National security and the lagging economy were major topics of discussion and the president-elect stressed the need to be bold and practical. He reiterated his promise not to be driven by ideology, but to seek things that work for the American people. With the country in the worst economic straits since the Great Depression, the new president has wisely tried to advocate a unified effort to solve the problems that the country faces.
Unlike previous presidents, he has not declared that he has a mandate or that it’s time for his party to push through a one-sided agenda over national interests. President-elect Obama has approached his task with the sober-mindedness of a leader whose country faces major problems. He admitted to 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Croft that after meeting with other presidents, there is a sense that all of the American leaders understand there is “a certain loneliness to the job.”
The job ahead is a big one but as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said Nov. 9 at Mosque Maryam, Almighty God has given Mr. Obama the wherewithal to handle the enormous task on his shoulders. The Minister noted that God never imposes on a person a duty beyond the person’s scope.
The job ahead for Mr. Obama is huge. Asked by the interviewer if he ever asked himself, “What did I get myself into?” Mr. Obama responded, “I feel right now that I am doing what I should be doing. That gives me a certain sense of calm. I will say that the challenges that we are confronting are enormous. And they’re multiple. And so there are times during the course of a given day where you think, ‘Where do I start?’ ”
“Number one, although there are some parallels to the problems that we’re seeing now and what we saw in the ’30s, no period is exactly the same. For us to simply recreate what existed back in the ’30s in the 21st century, I think would be missing the boat. We’ve got to come up with solutions that are true to our times and true to this moment,” said Mr. Obama.
“But what I don’t want to do is get bottled up in a lot of ideology and is this conservative or liberal. My interest is finding something that works. And whether it’s coming from FDR (Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) or its coming from (Republican President) Ronald Reagan, if the idea is right for the times then we’re going to apply it. And things that don’t work we’re going to get rid of.”
Mr. Obama appears determined to move forward with his vision for a better America, noting that the public doesn’t expect miracles, but it does expect a hard working, honest leader, who will look out for all Americans and just the rich.
While significant numbers of the public are behind the president-elect there are still those who would oppose him driven by racial hatred, envy, fear or inordinate self-interest. Government is the art of who gets what and powerful forces want to keep benefiting from federal largesse and federal policy. These forces and special interest groups and their allies don’t want wholesale change. They will tolerate minor change so long as it does not affect their interests in a major way.
But for America to survive there must be a willingness to do something different and to rise above narrow interests for the greater good. The new president seems willing to lead in a new direction, but will legislators and forces inside and outside government follow his lead?
The Minister advised the Congress and even the opposition to give Mr. Obama the space to deal with the problems of a nation at a divine crossroads. God has given Mr. Obama to America as a mercy, and president-elect should not be hindered from doing his job, said Min. Farrakhan.
The far right-wing has continued its attacks on Mr. Obama and some media outlets have vowed to hold the president accountable. It’s fine to hold Mr. Obama accountable to the interests of the American people and his promises. But he should not be held to a different standard than previous presidents. It’s interesting that the media is interested in accountability, when it helped drive the country to war based on the lies of President George W. Bush. The media largely never sought to hold Mr. Bush accountable and thousands of American lives have been lost. What happened to media accountability and the press as the watchdog in a healthy democracy?
We see the natural disasters, the West Coast fires and the economic distress that has gripped the country. The financial industry has already requested and gotten a bailout. The automakers are next in line for a government handout. Millions are unemployed and hundreds of thousands of mortgages have been foreclosed. Global leaders have pledged joint efforts to curb an economic crisis that originated in America but has reverberated around the world.
Mr. Obama faces tremendous challenges and we pray for his success and the safety of him and his family. We also hope that no obstacles will be placed in his path, less those obstacles and the opposition doom a nation.