America is on the move again because its new President has firmly asserted his leadership with an astonishingly ambitious agenda over the first 100 days of his Presidency. President Barack Obama has placed a lot of big bets on the economy, as well as in the international arena, but the next 100 days are likely to be equally as challenging.
The White House remains in full campaign mode every minute. Events such as a swine flu epidemic are unpredictable. Distractions, such as an ill-advised fly-over photo shoot, can needlessly divert focus. It has been clear from the earliest days of his campaign that Barack Obama is all about focus and discipline.
President Obama once noted, in a written greeting to a twelve-year-old admirer, "Dream big dreams." He was obviously speaking from personal experience. President Obama gives a lot of thought to everything he does, including enacting an unprecedented economic stimulus package, while at the same time connecting it to initiatives in health care, education, energy and the environment. He knows that these are the pain points for all Americans. And President Obama has promises to keep.
It is no mystery why the President remains popular with the American people. His approval rating is above 60%, and more than 80% of all Americans say they like the President. The fact is, the President is likable, and even most of his opponents agree with that. President Obama is a cool operator who is seldom ruffled. More importantly, he is a great listener and he is willing to own up to his mistakes, such as the Daschle and Richardson nominations. President Obama knows that in the Internet era even one misstep can have disastrous consequences if it is not well managed.
President Obama is also strengthened by the near collapse of the Republican Party. Today about 21% of all Americans identify themselves as Republicans. And, as the defection of long time Republican moderate Senator Arlen Specter indicates, the party consists mainly of conservatives. The old Reagan coalition is gone. Instead, Republicans have become the party of no ideas and brickbats from Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. What happened to "a kinder, gentler nation?" No wonder this country is so polarized.
Meanwhile, the new American President has taken the world by storm. His trips to the G-20, France and Turkey were public relations successes, and signaled a new approach from Washington. The same can be said for his later visits to Mexico and the Caribbean.
So it's 100 days down and about 1360 days to go to the end of President Barack Obama's first term. Between now and then his challenges are enormous. Can the banking problem be solved? Will the stimulus package succeed? Will these humongous deficits lead to inflation? When will unemployment go down? Can GM and Chrysler survive? Can our troops safely disengage from Iraq? Will the U.S. troop buildup in Afghanistan be successful and what is the end game? What about Iran?
Senator Barack Obama ran as the candidate for change. And, just as President Obama has changed attitudes toward America throughout the world, today more African Americans are hopeful about their future than ever before.
The twelve-year-old admirer I mentioned earlier is my daughter. I am hopeful that President Barack Obama is successful in restoring the American economy and preserving this nation's security. You see, I also want my daughter to dream big dreams.
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