His inaugural address set the right tone. It was somber and sober to fit the mood of our times.
The president's popularity is enormous as he begins to tackle our economic, financial, health care and foreign policy problems.
It is good to see a new mood appear in Washington, D.C., around the country and around the world.
But we need to temper our enthusiasm with a dose of reality now that the inaugural activities are over and Obama moves to the art of governing a troubled country.
His honeymoon period will probably be longer than most presidents have experienced but the first crisis he faces will most likely shake some of the unrealistic hopes many people are expressing at the moment.
We all wish Obama well and hope that he can solve half of what we think he can solve but the problems are daunting.
The economic crisis looms large. Jobs are being lost at a staggering rate. Many household name businesses are failing and going out of business. The stock market has lost not billions but trillions in value. People are still losing their homes to foreclosure.
Microsoft is laying off workers for the first time in its history. General Electric has lost more than 60% of its value. Many of our largest banks are still in business because of gigantic amounts our taxpayer dollars being pumped into them. Greed and corruption are everywhere to be seen from the Ponzi scheme of Madoff to the bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch executives as they were losing billions of dollars. The list goes on with the struggling auto industry to the lack of consumer confidence.
Obama has his work cut out for him on solving our dire economic and financial problems. He will be spending the majority of his time on this issue. If Americans keep getting worse economic news and the unemployment rate soars to double digits the popularity of Obama will certainly go down.
Overseas, the mood is much like in the United States. There is much enthusiasm for our new president and many across the globe wish him well. The closing of Guantanamo will win him even more respect from leaders and average citizens across the planet.
However, as is the case in our domestic economic, ills the world's problems do not go away or lessen because of the enthusiasm we are sharing for a new president.
The Israelis and Palestinian problem remains as tense as ever. Appointing former Senator George Mitchell as a special envoy for the Middle East was an excellent choice.
Iraq will also be a chaotic country as Obama draws down American troops over the next 16 months. Iran will not stop its nuclear program because we have a new president and most people in North Korea probably don't even know we have a new president. They will most likely be a major problem in Asia during Obama's first term.
AIDS will still ravage parts of Africa and other parts of the world. Afghanistan needs to be stabilized and many Americans and our allies will be upset when they hear Obama ask for more American and NATO troops to stabilize the country.
Trade problems will still flare up with our European and Asian allies. Protectionism will raise its head and Obama will have to fight for free and fair trade.
America's health care system is in crisis. It is really outrageous that so many people are not covered by health care and a stay in the hospital can wipe out many of our savings accounts.
How will Obama fight for universal health care with such a large federal deficit looming?
How will Obama get a handle on finding the right economic stimulus package that will actually stimulate the economy? Giving each of us a $500 or $1000 check probably won't do the trick.
There are massive problems to solve at home and abroad. Obama has the goodwill of the country and the world which is wonderful to see and read about. There is a new mood--hopefully it will last for awhile-of bi-partisanship between the parties. There is a view--expressed by Senator McCain and others of putting the country first and working with the new president.
It is great to see such enthusiasm for Obama. It is good to see a new mood of hope.
But let's not be unrealistic about our problems--they are many and they are large.
Let's not put too much pressure on the new president to solve all of our problems soon.
As he said in his inaugural address: "Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America. They will be met."
So, let's continue to show our enthusiasm and hope but let's also temper it with reality and not expect quick answers to all of our problems in the first few days of his presidency.