Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama Pre-Presidency

Even when he was in law school, some classmates saw Barack Obama as "presidential" (or pre-presidential). His entire adult life has been geared in that direction: his community service work, his teaching constitutional law, his daring run against a strong incumbent after being beaten in one political race, his sponsorship of bills in certain key areas, and--most of all--his practiced eloquence and composure.

But why did he choose to pursue the presidency so hard now at the wee age of 48 rather than wait his appropriate turn four or eight or sixteen or more years from now? It is because he aspires not just to being president, but to being a GREAT president--one who faces and overcomes historic challenges, as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt did.

Now, in another few weeks, he will be elected president, and a few short months after that he will take office. To greet him the U.S. faces a series of historic challenges.

(1) The U.S. is involved in two wars--one intractable in Iraq and one spiraling downhill in Afghanistan. (The "War on Drugs" and the "War on Terror" are fictitious political charades; hopefully Obama will decommission those "wars" and start to heal some of their hideous sociological consequences.)

(2) The U.S. will also be facing the greatest financial (and potentially broad economic) disaster since the Great Depression, and federal tax code and deficit challenges of tremendous proportions.

(3) Approaches to energy dependence and global climate change have been politically stifled until they, too, are now at crisis turning points.

(4) Weak education efforts and anti-scientism must be reversed urgently or else the U.S. will lose its world-leadership role in science and engineering, and related technology and business adventurism.

(5) Pig-headed and bullying "cowboy" diplomacy of the past eight years has ruined the U.S.'s international reputation and ability to wield a moral sword, as well as economic and political ones.

These are exciting times. We have a brilliant, charismatic young man about to take the White House--one who has the tools and aspirations to be a GREAT president--and his presidential plate is full of historic challenges.