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Mr. Obama goes to Washington

January 20, 2009
The Daily Mining Gazette

Today, the United States of America has a new president - Barack Obama. It is unfortunate that the most historically significant president in memory takes office at the most challenging time during our recent history.

We wish Obama well, for the obvious reason that if his presidency is a success, it will mean that our nation becomes more prosperous, secure and free.

But Obama faces challenges unlike those of any president in our history. No doubt some of his predecessors would have loved to become the leader of a nation in the condition we are today.

Still, there is no doubt that enormous, daunting problems face the new leader of our nation. The economy is a mess. National security remains a major concern, in terms of threats by both rogue nations and terrorist organizations. The linked worries of what to do about energy and the environment demand solutions. Federal spending simply must be brought under control. The health care dilemma is enough to, well, make one sick. Entitlement programs need to be reined in if our children are to have anything resembling a promising future.

It is enough to make most thoughtful Americans wonder why on earth anyone would want to be president. And it should be enough to convince the same people that true courage, innovation and leadership are essential in the White House.

Like many presidents-elect, Obama already has shifted his positions on some issues - if only slightly. That is because situations have changed since he was making promises on the campaign trail, and because, as a result of briefings from President Bush and others in government, Obama knows things he did not earlier this year.

Some of his promises clearly were made for political reasons. We trust that as president, Obama will make the distinction between what may appeal to some special-interest voters and what needs to be done for the good of the nation.

We hope fervently that Obama continues to mature in his leadership - as did Abraham Lincoln, who seems to be something of a role model for the incoming president. That great man was willing to throw political considerations to the wind if doing so was good for the nation. He was willing to engage in battles with leaders in his own political party, if necessary. He was willing to admit that he had been wrong, and to change course dramatically on important issues. He was able to weigh comments by advisers on both the scale of politics and that of patriotism - and to make the right choices.

Will Obama demonstrate the traits of a truly great president, or will the strains of office and politics overcome him? It is impossible to answer that question. Only time will tell.

Together with all thoughtful Americans, we wish him well.



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