Optimism and Patience for Obama

18 January, 2009 at 1:28 pm (Barack Obama, Politics)

Yes, yes, I have had a lot of Obama-related posts lately…and frankly, they’ll probably go on until at least a day or two after the inauguration. (n.b.: we’re officially down to the 48-hour mark of time left with Bush. Wheeee!)

Anyway, today’s NY Times had an interesting article. It found that, not only do many people – Democrats and Republicans – want Obama to succeed as president, many are actually willing to have patience while he does the job. From the story:

Most Americans said they did not expect real progress in improving the economy, reforming the health care system or ending the war in Iraq — three of the central promises of Mr. Obama’s campaign — for at least two years. The poll found that two-thirds of respondents think the recession will last two years or longer.

Mr. Bush is leaving office with just 22 percent of Americans offering a favorable view of how he handled the eight years of his presidency, a record low, and firmly identified with the economic crisis Mr. Obama is inheriting. More than 80 percent of respondents said the nation was in worse shape today than it was five years ago.

By contrast, 79 percent were optimistic about the next four years under Mr. Obama, a level of good will for a new chief executive that exceeds that measured for any of the past five incoming presidents. And it cuts across party lines: 58 percent of the respondents who said they voted for Mr. Obama’s opponent in the general election, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said they were optimistic about the country in an Obama administration.

I think it is fascinating that people seem to be realistic about what lies ahead for the Obama administration, and for the nation. Granted, I’m young enough that I don’t really remember the general mood of the country during an inauguration pre-2000 (though I do remember watching Clinton being sworn in in ’93, but that’s another story), but it seems that the attitude during this transition is different. Could it be that Obama was realistic and truthful with the country during the campaign; that he actually talked to voters as adults, was honest with them, and ‘told it like it is’? And could it be that, in response, Americans are actually looking at the country’s situation at hand rationally; that despite the alleged “Messianic” way that Obama has been viewed, people do not expect immediate, miraculous results with the change of power?

Then again, it’s two days before the inauguration. I’m sure in six months, it will be business as usual and the patience will be wearing thin. But it’s nice to think that the American people are entering into this new administration with a realistic view of what is possible and what can be done. It’s a great way to start the next 4 (or 8!) years


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