The Curious Case of Barack Obama

What is it with this guy? Barack Obama’s first 100 days have to rank among the most active in over 70 years.

He promised a stimulus package and signed one two weeks ago; he promised mortgage relief and delivered; and while Secretary Geithner may have been short on details as far as relief for the financial sector is concerned, he still delivered the beginnings of a more comprehensive package. In the meantime, Obama announced the closing of Gitmo and, just today, he elaborated on his Iraq strategy. Obama’s visit to Canada clearly illustrated a new era in American diplomacy and his address to Congress this Tuesday further outlined his commitment to four major policy areas—energy, health care, climate change, and education. And he’s got a plan for all of it to boot. Still, the fight over the budget remains.

Republicans are opposing Obama on all his initiatives. Par for the course, but short-sighted. The budget battle will be bruising, with record spending and record deficits framing the debate. Even the logic behind Obama’s pledge to eventually cut the deficit by half will be challenged. Spending on the Obama priorities will change America in a way not seen since the 1930’s. The health care issues Obama raised in the campaign will mostly be dealt with; climate change will once again be part of government policy-making; and America will be on a new course with its foreign relations. But much of the country’s debt will remain in foreign hands. This is why a constructive debate is vital and also why this blog has argued for a Republican opposition that goes beyond giving in to the “no” reflex or heeding the rantings of Rush Limbaugh.

The ‘curious ‘ side of Obama is that he is doing his best to respect the essence of his electoral mandate. He is reaching out and trying to change the political climate. Respect, humility and dedication to long term goals is the mantra for Obama’s wider vision for America, one where inclusion and unity become essential to achieving goals. The honeymoon may still be on for awhile but we all know it will someday fade. What is so heartening in all of this is that we have a new man in the White House who is doing things differently and restoring nobility to the task of politics. Some of the naysayers are still stuck in the polarized, confrontational politics of the past four decades. That Obama has transcended those politics is what makes him such a curious figure.

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