Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Robert Guttman Headshot

Barack Obama: America's 44th President

Posted: Updated:

"There is not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America -- there's the United States of America."
-- Obama speech at 2004 Democratic Convention

The election of Illinois Senator Barack Obama as America's 44th president is astounding, historical, implausible, improbable and completely without precedent in the history of the United States.

The gifted orator from Abraham Lincoln's home state put together an impressive victory in the November election, convincing a majority of Americans that he was the person who could lead us in these troubled economic times at home and with our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan abroad.

A year ago, the conventional wisdom in the country was that Senator Hillary Clinton was too strong for any other Democrat to defeat for the Democratic nomination for president.

Yet the first term United States Senator from Illinois took on the Clinton machine and won the Democratic nomination. Not only did he defeat Clinton but he showed his incredible ability to raise money -- mainly from the Internet -- that will forever change the way presidential candidates raise money in future elections.

At a time of uncertainty in the United States and abroad, the American voter showed that he is willing to take a gamble with a relatively unknown and untested person to become our new president. Obama, who will become the first African-American ever elected president of the United States, put together a winning combination of liberals, traditional blue collar Democrats and independent voters in order to reach the White House.

Apparently the American voter agreed with the new president when he stated several months before the Iowa caucus in November 2007, "I'm asking you to stand with me...I'm asking you to stop settling for what the cynics say we have to accept...In this moment, let us reach for what we know is possible. A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again."

And Americans who went to the polls in record numbers in November obviously decided to "stand with" Obama, the Senate's most junior member ranked 99th in seniority. The American voter took a leap of faith in electing a politician without years of experience on the national scene.

In fact, the new president was only a member of the Illinois State Senate when he spoke out against the Iraq War. His views against the administration's decision to invade Iraq won him respectability with the liberal Democratic activists he needed to win over during the primaries and caucuses. His opposition to the war in Iraq from the very beginning contrasted with Senator Clinton's vote to give the president authority to go to war.

Choosing Senator Joe Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who has called America's involvement in Iraq "one of our country's worst foreign policy mistakes," helped him in the general election campaign. Biden provided the gravitas -- the elder statesman -- that Obama needed to overcome his lack of years in the national limelight.

Biden also helped win Pennsylvania and other key states which led to him become America's new vice-president. He will be extremely helpful working with the new president on foreign policy issues.

While Obama's opposition to the war in Iraq helped him win the Democratic nomination for president, it was the declining economy that helped catapult him into the White House. Senator John McCain, the defeated Republican candidate for president, ran for the Oval Office stressing his skills in foreign policy. The senator from Arizona and former POW during the Vietnam War readily admitted to the America public that he knew very little about economics.

With the failure of financial institutions, the huge bailout by Congress and the terrible days on the New York Stock Exchange and global markets, the popularity of President George W. Bush sank below 20 percent, one of the worst approval ratings in American history since polling began.

With the American voters criticizing the lack of financial oversight by the federal government, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the liquidity and credit crisis and an overall crisis of confidence in the Bush Administration and Republicans, Americans voted in record numbers to "throw the rascals out."

Historically, in tough economic times voters have felt the Democrats have better solutions to their problems. The new president does not have much of an economic background but he convinced the American voter that he knew what they were going through during these hard times and could "feel their pain" more than his Republican opponent.

Voters said the economy was the key issue of concern in the presidential campaign and Obama was their pick by a two to one margin to be the best person to solve our economic and financial problems. Analyst comments were that it was the economy that put Obama into the White House. And, not unlike the First One Hundred Days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Obama administration will have to find answers and find them quickly to justify his election as our new president.

Obama will have to work closely with the new heavily controlled Democratic Congress to enact legislation to give the necessary regulatory powers to the federal government to try to make certain this type of economic meltdown will never happen again.

The new president who campaigned on "Change We Can Believe In" will now have to deliver and deliver quickly on how this change can correct the American economy that failed so badly in the last few months of the Bush Administration.

Along with the staggering goal of fixing our economy and ailing companies, the new president will also have to make good on his pledge to pull out American troops from Iraq without a complete collapse of the military and government in that war-torn nation.

President Obama will also have to follow through on his statements about shoring up America's and NATO's position in Afghanistan. He called for more U.S. troops to what he sees as the center of terrorism -- Afghanistan -- during the campaign.

And, he also promised universal health care to all Americans during his race for the White House. Where will the new president find the money and the will to bring about this promise he made to the American voter?

Not many presidents have come into office with so many major problems facing the country. Never in recent times has the U.S. economy, been in such peril. Never have we faced two wars and a war on terrorism at the same time.

President Obama and Vice-President Biden will have their hands full, to say the least. They have the good will and backing of the American people and of people around the world who are glad that America has a new president who is not named George W. Bush.

President Obama ran a remarkable, skillful and, in the end, a winning campaign. It is now time to put his talents to work running the American government. Let us hope our faith in him was not mistaken and he can rise to the situation as well as Frankin D. Roosevelt did during the Depression.

As President Obama has stated, it is time to put partisanship behind and rebuild America -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents -- all working together.

Yes, we can. Let us hope that this is more than just a campaign slogan!

Read more reaction from HuffPost bloggers to Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election

Register To Vote