You see any newly installed chief executives traditionally enjoy a period of time when the political parties, the public, the press, and the backroom power brokers cut them some slack and give them some time to get their feet wet. However, there is more than the usual amount of optimism behind the beginnings of the Obama years. This goes well beyond the slogans “Anything possible,” “Change we can believe in,” and “Yes, we can!” The Obama team is starting in office with almost across the board approval ratings and “Bon Mots” in the 66% to 75% range. This is almost unheard of given the divisiveness, length, and intensity of the campaigns just concluded.
In the roughly 77 days since his election in November, the public has been treated to a never before seen openness in the transition process. Despite his limited Illinois legislative record of so-called intense liberalism, Obama has made it perfectly clear that he intends to govern in DC from the center. The direness of the economic, financial, and monetary crises facing his administration from day one makes it clear that every option is on the table. We are looking at untested ground as far as what must be deployed in the gargantuan tasks of a turn around. Things are truly different this time. Costs will be staggering. He has emphasized that any fixes and stimuli will take time.
One of the first portents (or omens) traditionally comes in form of a “bounce” in the stock market indexes in the days/weeks following an inauguration. It is highly doubtful we shall see any significant rally for the Obama adminstration! The fundamentals behind traditional (or historic) bumps upward are just not there right now. Corporate balance sheets are plagued with high levels of questionable debt, future earnings are iffy at best because the driving forces behind the American consumers’ ability to spend are already tapped out, and a systemic trade imbalance vastly favors imports over exports. Nothing a new administration can (or will) do will change this. At best... the markets will move sideways. This is all the investing public can expect at this point... sorry.
The honeymoon period for a new administration is generally 100 days. Under normal times what direction any administration takes until the first of May becomes the basis for critique and evaluation. Given the severity, depth, and pervasiveness of the current maladies, the Obama team needs a honeymoon of TEN times that duration! This is a global crisis that was decades in the making! Obama is clearly a phenomenon, and he is assembling an exceptional team of the best and the brightest, but the public must be patient. Disappointments are born out of big (and unreasonable) expectations.
It is interesting how any opposition from the GOP is presently not shaping up to be a serious threat. The Grand Old Party is in disarray. It is re-TH*NK*NG how it has lost touch with its core principles and Obama (as both a lover and diligent student of Abraham Lincoln) is in tune with the original tenants of Republicanism. He will NEED the bipartisan support of the GOP for his agenda.
An Obama administration faces far more of a concerted undermining from the old guard establishment of his own party. We have already seen ruffled feathers from the stalwarts of the Dem ultra-liberals in their egotistical reactions to some of his appointments. Obama has only been a part of the DC beltway for a scant 3 years. He may be “the new kid on the block,” but never forget that his is the “1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue!”
I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.
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This story was published on january 19, 2009.