The easy part of the journey has ended for Barack Obama. Charisma and potential may carry you as a candidate and a president-elect, but actually serving as president requires a lot more.Even as someone who has been critical of Obama from the day he announced his candidacy, I desperately hope that our new president can deliver on the hype. This nation needs a leader and Obama clearly has the charisma required to unite people. Whether he has the ideas and the ability to execute them remains to be seen.

Other than the adulation of millions, Obama takes over the presidency with little on his resume and almost no practical experience. Despite these shortcomings, he has made every right move so far, surrounding himself with a diverse cabinet and eschewing the normal policy of only listening to those who agree with him.

Even to those of us astounded that a man could be elected president more for the ideals he represents than the ideas he actually has must admit that Obama has done many things right since being elected. Aside from the garish and wasteful inauguration spectacle, Obama handled the transition deftly making it clear he would take office ready to tackle our substantial problems.

Like many, I would prefer a president who truly came from outside the political arena. Real change would be easier to enact if you owed no favors to the system. A political outsider would not be as beholden to the current way of doings things as someone even mildly connected to the current machine.

That said, Obama has shown a surprising willingness to do things differently. His cabinet appointments fell far short of the left-wing team his most liberal supporters wanted and his willingness to hear all ideas has shown that he will not be a puppet for his party's most extreme members.

Our new president has also resisted the temptation to focus on showy, but non-critical issues. Abortion, the environment and other social issues must be dealt with, but the economy must come first. Obama must not waste any of his political capital on anything that does not improve our nation's economy.

Fixing the economy, keeping us safe from our many enemies and finding a viable way to get out of Iraq without leaving that nation in chaos remain the key problems that must be solved. Since being elected, Obama has kept the focus on those issues and has been unwilling to be distracted by worthy causes that are better dealt with down the line.

I disagree with Obama's approach to fixing the economy, but applaud his clear vision and willingness to take action. Business and individual tax cuts would be my preference, but our new leader has assembled a team of financial moderates with a decisive plan.

Whether he fixes the economy quickly or not, Obama must remain on track and keep his attention on the issues that impact us most deeply. If he continues to listen to voices that disagree with him and avoid radicals on both sides, than perhaps Obama has a chance to fulfill the promise so many have pinned their hopes on.

Daniel B. Kline's work appears in more than 100 papers weekly. When he is not writing Kline serves as general manager of Time Machine Hobby New England's largest hobby and toy store, www.timemachinehobby.com. He can be reached at dan@notastep.com or you can see his archive at dbkline.com.

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