Issue #69

Last Update October 31, 2010

Commentary January 2009   We have a new president, one who could have been a world-class CEO if he had chosen a different life. The less said about the previous president the better. The brilliance and steadiness with which Mr. Obama ran his campaign and the transition could fill a Harvard B-school textbook on effective management. Everyone knows that the tasks he has undertaken are almost insurmountable. He appears eager to get to work, and has laid a good foundation to begin on.

We will have to get used to having a mensch in the White House. We will also have to trust him to fulfill the promises he made to us, and not undermine him before he has a chance to succeed.

The interesting thing is that conservatives, specially economic as opposed to religious conservatives, realize the depths of our economic problems and are praying for him to succeed, even if they disagree with his policies. He is, in fact, their only hope, and they are not about to undermine him at this point.

The real question is whether the American electorate, and particularly the voters in solidly Republican Congressional districts, have a realistic view of the seriousness of the current economic situation. It is too much to expect that they will admit the economic policies they fervently backed for so long were a dismal failure, and that their core philosophies may have been wrong, or at least exaggerated. The best that can be hoped for is that they will prevail on their Representatives to forgo a scorched-earth policy with regard to the House, and that the Democratic majority is large enough (minus its Blue Dog contingent) to get stuff done. The somewhat more moderate Republicans in the Senate may be easier to deal with, but the lack of a filibuster-proof majority here means that there is at least a small chance that Republicans will be able to exercise a veto on bills that displease them.

President Obama has already begun to talk to Republicans directly. One commented that he has already talked more to Congressional Republicans than President Bush Jr. did in his whole eight years. Let's hope that the bitter divisiveness that has characterized Congress for the past twelve years can be overcome, and that civility of discourse can be restored.

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