Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Poor Barack

Obama on Time Magazine coverSeriously, congratulations and all, Mr. Obama, but what a position to be in.

The victory was so complete, hopes are so high, the expectations are positively staggering. There is nowhere to go but down.

A couple of quick samples:

From the Associated Press:
Naming the staggering list of problems he inherits — two wars and "the worst financial crisis in a century," among them — Obama sought to restrain the soaring expectations of his supporters.

"We may not get there in one year or even in one term," he said. "But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there."

A tide of international goodwill came Obama's way on Wednesday morning, even as developments made clear how heavy a weight will soon be on his shoulders.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a congratulatory telegram saying there is "solid positive potential" for the election to improve strained relations between Washington and Moscow, if Obama engages in constructive dialogue.

Yet he appeared to be deliberately provocative hours after the election with sharp criticism of the U.S. and his announcement that Russia will deploy missiles near NATO member Poland in response to U.S. missile defense plans.

Reaction in Africa:
Many Africans fervently hope his victory will mean more U.S. support for local development and an improvement in living conditions for the majority on the world's poorest continent.

"We trust that you will also make it the mission of your presidency to combat the scourge of poverty and disease everywhere," former South African President Nelson Mandela said.

South African Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu likened Obama's victory to his country's triumph over apartheid and Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua said the result had "finally broken the greatest barrier of prejudice in human history."

Analysts have cautioned, however, that Obama may have little scope to bring tangible benefits to Africa, and that he does not have a strong track record of interest in the continent.

More international reaction:
Financial markets in Asia were higher Wednesday as traders were hopeful that Obama could successfully tackle the global economic crisis. But in Europe and later on Wall Street the main markets were down by at least 1 percent.


In an open letter to Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy offered "my warmest congratulations, and through me, those of the entire French people."

He said Obama's election raised in France, in Europe and around the world "an immense hope" and that the American people "had expressed with force their faith in progress and the future."

One CNN reader Toby Nevin wrote on a blog: "I stayed up through the night to watch from Paris. What a wonderful moment. It seems that the tide has turned from division and fear towards hope, responsibility and unity.

"Obama is a great leader for a United States of America that deserves him as a guide through these troubled times. Let us all remember our engagement to this spirit of positive change!"

There are, of course, many more moderate responses, noting the magnitude of the challenges Obama faces. And if he manages to rise to just some of the expectations, America will be well off.

And for the election-weary, the BBC offers this Not-the-election quiz. I managed not to be a total loser. Bet you can't do much better.

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Anonymous said...

I agree there's a lot on his shoulders and some might be disappointed if he doesn't live up to their expectations, but I have hope. He may not be able to change everything, but I believe he will change something.

Janet said...

I certainly hope so. But there aren't too many people who get through four years of politics and intense scrutiny looking fresh and clean. In any event, I sincerely hope his presidency is good for the American people.

Melanie Avila said...

Great post! It is a little nerve-wracking how much people think he will change the world. It's only a matter of days before they start talking in detail about his first 100 days - if they aren't already (I've been away from the computer today).

I am THRILLED and hopeful for the first time in eight years.

I got 6/10. :)

Janet said...

Melanie, I can relate. I'll confess to feeling that way a few years ago. Hopeful at an election change. As expected, my hopes weren't quite lived up to, but at least I don't have to carry the sense of shame I had before. (I am a firm believer that every party needs a time out after a couple of terms or so. Ten years max, or they stink to high heaven.)

6 out of 10? You are a genius.

Melanie Avila said...

Not a genius, I'm just on the computer a lot. ;)

We were talking last night, saying that the danger with having everything go to one party is the backlash if things don't go perfectly (according to whom, I'm not sure). Then we'll see another flip and nothing will get accomplished, again.

I think we more or less do what you've said - the ten year switch - whether it's intentional or not.


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