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January 23rd, 2009
11:59 PM ET

A great start, many questions

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more from David Gergen on AC360° at 10pm ET.

David Gergen | Bio
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Political Analyst

In his first three working days in office, Barack Obama has seized the reins of presidential power in smooth, almost flawless fashion. Whether that will be enough to conquer the forces arrayed against him, however, remains very much open to question.

On the economy, his most urgent challenge, he has followed up quickly on transition planning by bringing in bipartisan leaders of Congress today and will soon hold a special meeting with Congressional Republicans alone. One of the first mistakes of some past presidents has been to dismiss the concerns of the opposition. Because Obama has gone far beyond tradition, GOP leaders left the White House this morning endorsing his call to have a stimulus bill by the President’s Day recess in February.

Even so, chances remain high that the President’s economic plans will hit serious snags in Congress and even if passed, may not work. Democrats in the House, where partisanship has been rancorous, seem little inclined to seek a truly bipartisan stimulus bill, as Obama has wanted. And while some Senate Democrats are trying to re-craft the House bill to make it more pleasing to Republicans, others like Dick Durbin are now airily saying that it makes little difference how many Republicans sign on. (Perhaps they are taking a cue from Obama himself, who reportedly made it clear to the GOP at the White House today that he was in charge of negotiations because “I won”.) If partisan attitudes take hold on both sides, Obama can kiss off his hopes of getting dozens of Republicans on board in the House and more than 20 Republicans in the Senate – and in turn, the bipartisanship he needs on TARP, Detroit, and many other bills to come will be progressively tougher.

An even larger concern is whether the stimulus package will truly work but instead, as columnists Paul Krugman and David Brooks worry about in the New York Times today, will be too slow and too filled with pork, leading to scandals down the road. The Obama team promised Congressional leaders today that 75 percent of the bill would be pumped into the economy within two years and that they would impose strict oversight. We shall see. So far, one of the biggest questions hanging over the new administration is its managerial capacity. A typical comment in D.C.: They have wondrous all-stars on board, but where are the managers? And where are the CEOs who know how to make things happen in the business world? Insiders will be watching closely as this economic saga unfolds.

Meanwhile, Obama has also gotten off to a near textbook start in foreign policy. In quick succession, he is unwinding the Bush policies and approaches that have drawn intense criticism both at home and abroad: Iraq, Guantanamo, torture, the Middle East, and the centrality of the State Department more generally. By fulfilling his campaign promises so quickly, Obama is increasing public confidence in his international leadership – something that could have a spill-over effect in bolstering confidence in his economic plans, as well.

For critics of the Bush years – and that includes many mainstream foreign policy players - yesterday was as close to perfect as one can imagine. Not only did the President reverse policies on Guantanamo but he did so carefully by setting up a six-month review to ensure that the process of shutting it down and settling the future of detainees does not unleash a bunch of red-hot terrorists (example: the former Gitmo detainee who has emerged as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen).

Moreover, the President and Vice President both went to the State Department on the first day that Hillary Clinton was there as Secretary of State, signaling to Foreign Service officers, demoralized by budget cuts and marginalization in recent years, that they will be central to his international policies in coming years. As one who worked briefly at State during the Clinton years, I can personally attest that this kind of attention will be a huge shot in the arm among career officers.

Then, too, Obama and Clinton announced yesterday the appointment of two superior diplomats as special envoys: George Mitchell to the Middle East, Richard Holbrooke to Afghanistan and Pakistan. How good are they? Well, each of them has been a serious candidate to be Secretary of State in his own right. Had Hillary Clinton been sworn in as President this week, it is highly likely that Holbrooke would have been her choice as SecState. Mitchell and Holbrooke were responsible for two of Bill Clinton’s biggest successes, the first in negotiating peace in Northern Ireland, the other in negotiating a settlement in Bosnia. Remember that George W. Bush didn’t pay much attention to the Middle East at first and always rejected the idea of a special envoy there. Obama has jumped in feet first in his first 72 hours on the job.

Still, the question remains: will these early moves by Obama actually start to put out the fires in these parts of the world? We won’t know for a long time – and until he makes some very tough calls that could go awry. Will the Clinton-Mitchell team pressure Israel to make major concessions, as Israeli conservatives now fear, and if so, will Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria call off their terror tactics? Can anyone put all the genies back in the bottle? No one knows.

And then again, there are the growing questions about how well the Obama administration can manage itself. From afar, the lines of authority among the White House, Clinton, Mitchell and Holbrooke seem very tangled. Who will manage all these heavyweights who have minds and egos of their own? His staff says that Obama can do it, but isn’t that what they say about managing his economic team, too?

So, even as he wins deserved praise for his smooth start as President, more questions than answers are swirling around Barack Obama. He seems to understand them and, still a surprise, he also seems to remain totally confident about the future. We have all started a crucial journey.

soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Shelley Pace

    Help us, CNN, to understand the banking ballout...and how about an alternative. We (the taxpayers) are going to underwrite giving more and more money to huge corporate banks who have badly handled their customers' money and made poor decisions, right? Isn't this sending good money after bad? Could we skip Bank of America, Citibank, Chase, et al, and give the money instead to hundreds (even thousands) of community banks who have been good stewards of our money and aren't part of the problem? Could we help community banks buy the assets of failing corporate banks...bust up the debts and loans into manageable chunks? You just know community banks would be more likely to infuse their capital into local businesses, and provide customer service to their customers (refinance, work out payment plans). We need to put banking back into the hands of banking professionals who use good judgment and make responsible and realistic loans to people, with payments they can afford to make. Let's forget "top down" stimulus and try "bottom up" for a change.

    We're in real need of understanding this financial crisis' impact on every-day, "real world" situations. So... I can't believe all the uproar over new turf for The Mall. At least this bit of spending will put some people to work...you've got the turf growers who will get a sale, the landscaping companies who get the job will hire crew to plant the turf, equipment might need to be purchased (if they can get a bank loan) or leased. Hey, it's not a long-term job, but we shouldn't discount short-term jobs for people who need them. I'd rather see money spent on blue-collar service jobs rather than putting more into the hands of white-collar money-changers who will continue to mis-manage it. And you know the price of that executive's rug....that much money alone could have paid the salaries of several people with families to feed and mortgages to pay.

    January 24, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  2. Claudette

    This is 3 days of heaven. President Obama worked for America! We have been without real leadership for years and the look at the mess. I have slept well knowing President Obama is at the helm. I do not know why he was willing to take this job after Bush and Cheney did so much damage to America, maybe it was Airforce One or possibly just a good man. Wow what a change already, someone watching over our country. Democrat's and Republican's support his stimulus and nominees. We have spoken for President Obama's ideas.

    January 24, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  3. JR

    Change and Hope are only slogans and cannot solve our nations problems. Obama and big government will only add to these problems!

    January 24, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  4. Steve Curtis

    How about creating an economic stimulus package that provides either direct $$ to all housholds who are renting and allows everyone with a residential loan the opportunity to modify their loan to a very low interest 40 year fixed rate?

    January 24, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  5. Peter Atkins

    I have just one question and I have not heard mention from Barrack. I am wondering if he will Free Leonard Peltier. I am wondering if he will avoid the issue like previous presidents.

    Peter Atkins
    Ontario Canada
    Member of the Mohawk Nation

    January 24, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  6. Mike Tyson

    I dont have a clue about anything. But its all gravy.

    January 24, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  7. Mike in NYC

    Gergen's pieces invariably leave me unsatisfied, in the same way that a typical Time or Newsweek analysis does. Spread the praise and blame around as "fairly" as possible, but always stay within accepted boundaries.

    He's also a faithful practitioner of a recently enacted rule - be as effusive as you can, and then some, in lavishing praise on Our Great Leader. Really, David, do you and other Establishment types really expect politically savvy people to believe that BO is making all these decisions himself? I'd be willing to bet a fair amount of money that most of his appointments and policy initiatives were decided by "consensus" a long time ago.

    January 24, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  8. svp

    I agree with David's assessment. Obama in his heart of hearts truly wants to be like a Reagan or a Lincoln, in his desire to some how transform America into a different nation while capitalizing on the fervor and sentiments of the changing immigrant demographics in this country, where Whites have become a minority majority. Unlike previous President's, this country has given Obama challenges in almost every issue, the largest of which is the economy. If the economy does not improve with his spending plans by 2010 in a definitive manner, then it will be hard for him to gain credibility on his plans.

    His win in this election is a true testament to how most minorities and immigrants voted for him in record numbers and for most of the generation Y folks, he is the new symbol, as for the most part their experiences and lack of understanding of history is paramount. Most people who vote are moved by the surface and not as much anything significantly intellectual as in an election cycle, it is more about the power of a mesage. Hillary, although was visionary in her own right, came across as too focussed on specifics and Obama had nothing but rhetoric while reading a bunch of books, and for the most part playing it safe.

    So, the Country gave Obama what he wanted, the Presidency, as this is what his destiny is and has been aching for this long, meticulously planning his every move. Now, it is his time to deliver to the people who gave him a chance (than constantly asking everyone to sacrifice and pitch in) and saw light in his message. Let's see if he will improve something or sweep himself/revel in Bush's mistakes/unpopularity until 2012.

    January 24, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  9. Georgie

    I've notice that our new No Experience President has set a High Value on having High Level Experienced People in the Crucial Positions. Interesting! Sad Thing is President Obama already has made mistakes because of His Own Personal & Political Lack of Experience. This Will Be A Long 4 Years!

    January 24, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  10. James Bosheya

    We acknowledge president Obama good job so far. But he has not given the nation a program or a tactical or detail plan that will specifically solve the immediate housing problem or create 500,000 emergency jobs within his 100 or 120 days in office. The goal of Obama administration at this time is to consult people outside his cabinet that does have answers that will end house foreclosures problem and create 500,000 emergency jobs within the next 100 or 120 days. I am sure I can be of great help in this regard with guarantee. The amount needed is only 1% of 360 billion of his stimulus plan to solve the house foreclosures and create 500,000 jobs to kick start the economic again.

    January 24, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  11. Theresa

    Love your program Anderson but why are you still referring to Barack Obama as MR – shouldn't you now be saying PRESIDENT?

    January 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  12. Zachary

    David,

    Well done. I'm glad we still have those that still insist on reporting the actual news and when putting their personal and professional opinions into the light, are doing so in a respectful manner. We must move on from these times when people seem to only look at the headlines and ignore the details. Mistakes are inevitable, and the ability to recognize and act towards resolution are what we need. President Obama may be popular, but he is not perfect, and I know that he realizes that as well. That is why I voted for him, and will continue to support him as our nations top executive.

    January 24, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  13. peggy

    Have not read any blogs that suggest that a very
    good bailout would be the forever faltering Social Security Fund; which has been mishandled in the past....Also a change in the age for retirement age. I understand that it has been extended. In these times we are in a bailout and a lowering of the retirement age to 55 does not seem unreasonable.
    Also a forgiveness of student loans for older..past forty=five.. students who have had to redo their lives due to unemployment.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  14. Matt Walsh

    Come on, Gergen, give me a break.. Smooth, flawless. Are you kidding me?? The first action he took as president was to see to it that rights were extended to terrorist prisoners. It's a shame that a bunch of blood thirsty, murdering savages took precedent over the American people. We deserve better than that. Also, I think we are up to 5 or 6 executive orders in 5 days. The last 5 presidents issued a total of 2.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  15. carson

    Well david, i agree with u at all.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  16. Deb

    Brenda...about that 16,500 you get each month. Would you consider a short term loan of 3,500 to me? I could pay off my car and not worry about the excessive interest I still owe. I could use the carpayment money to double up my land payments in north eastern Oklahoma. I am purchasing the land from an individual who isn't going to foreclose on my mortgage. He "gets it" and understands hard times. I would be willing to work out reasonable interst on the loan, and in the event I am laid off soon, which is very likely, my unemploymnet payments to me will still be enough to cover all the bases for the time of the outstanding loan, make you a couple of extra bucks, keep gas in my chain saw long enough for new lodge poles to be cut for the new tipi I'll be moving into soon. I would go to the bank for a loan, after all they have plenty of my tax money now, but they want stellar credit and unreasonable interest rates, and well, who knows when they will be bought up by some even more unscrupulous lender. I think we all might be better off just helping each other out, and let the CEO's of this world waller in their own country club crap. So what d'ya say. Interested?

    January 24, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  17. jim Fallbrook CA

    Barack Hussein Obama got off to a terrible start. Already he is selecting Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary who hasn't paid his taxes. He is just another thug like his other close personal political friends William Ayers terrorist, Jeremiah Wright who Obama did call his close personal friend, Tony Rezco Convicted felon/slumlord and Louis Ferricon muslim hate preacher just to name a few. He definitely does not have any integrity. I believe he will release all the detainees at GITMO. His foreign policy will follow in the footsteps of Jimmy Carter. I am sure that National Security Expert Peter Bergen remembers Americans being held hostage by a terrorist country for 444 days. This is what we have to look forward to.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  18. robert2237

    kevina porch January 23rd, 2009 6:53 pm ET

    It’s so strange to see how many folks call themselves”Americans” yet cannot for the life of themselves, sit back & let ” OUR” President do his job. All I keep seeing and/or hearing : is constant criticism and what is the president gonna do about this & about that.

    Your post is very very funny. For 8 years we have heard nothing but constant criticism but now that obama is in you think everyone should just keep their mouth shut. Although I did not support Obama I do hope he is successful I did not support Bush either but I do realize that Bush keep the country safe so he was a success. Obama we will see, but remember the far left did every thing to trash Bush, and most of what they said was out right lies, if you do a little research you will find that out for yourself. And yes I will give him criticism when requried. The main thing I think he has done wrong so far is tell people he will close Gitmo in 1 year. Bush was trying to figure out how to close it and still keep us save. So obama saying he is going to close it in one year is false. I have no problem with closing it but lets tell the truth about it. As for torrture well if you look at his order he really didn't change much. So good luck to him but tell us the truth.

    January 24, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  19. Brad

    President Obama's biggest initial problwm will be the partisanship of the House Democrats...and the Republicans (most of them) will be biding their time, looking for an opening. I fear that the lack of bipartisan leadership skills that has been consistently exhibited by Speaker Nancy Pelosi is going to let him down. President Obama may want to change things, but the House Democrats don't...not really. They have already demonstrated that. All they want to do is to be in charge. I hope that he doesn't get bogged down referreeing disputes between House Democrats and House Republicans. Nancy Pelosi is not up to it and that's not his job.

    I don't think that the Senate is going to be the real problem.

    January 24, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  20. Jennifer

    I would like to provide an example of how this financial crisis affects individuals who have been fiscally responsible. We have had no issues with paying our mortgage, yet we wanted to take advantage of the lowered mortgage interest rates and refinance. However, in lieu of the foreclosures and quick sales in our area, our home has depreciated >300K!!! Therefore, we are unable to refinance due to we now owe more than our home is worth.

    In addition, we are attempting to open a small business (which will provide at least 30 new jobs). Although we have excellent credit and show the necessary capital, yet we cannot get approved by the banks for the loan! OUR money can bail out the banks, but WE cannot benefit from their BAILOUT by getting a loan. I am not sure what they are doing with the taxpayer money, but they definitely are not loaning to the taxpayers.

    Jennifer from Florida

    January 24, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  21. m turner

    mr. president i have an idea. i work at a job were you have guys that have been on the job for 30 and 40 years. they want retire for differnet reasons. there are alot of jobs out there to be had if people would retire. give them incentive to retire. take away the penalty for taking retirement early. lower the social security age to about 55. social security want even be around when i'm old enough to get it, i'm 27. trust me our generation will come up with something just like yours came up with social security. if alot of older folks would retire we have more then enough jobs. one last thing please don't tax the hell out of the single man. everyone is talking about tax cuts for families but i'm single with no kids and suffering too. i need help too.

    January 24, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  22. Wendy

    What's up with obama telling the press room...I'm president...I can do anything I want.....susan malveaux reported yesterday on cnn....that's not a good attitude for a president to have....to me it sounds like a power play...why can't presidents act normal....they need to stop acting like power lords

    January 24, 2009 at 9:32 am |
  23. Junior

    First, David has good points in this peace of wrtting. Lets not forget that obama's presidency will not be perfect. there will be some downs but one thing we have to keep in mind is that he has the correct intentions for the country. Republicans and democrats " we as americans" did not vote for him mainly on our moral views but we did because we thought he was the best at gettting us where we need to be economically and foreign affairs. so, ppl judge him based on what he will or will not do in terms of the economy and the war on terror. I have confidence in MR Obama as a leader and I am sure we will be better off 5 yrs from now than we are today. lets support him cauz we need major change in this country. some of the decisions might be hard to make and some will not workout as we hope but one thing is for sure...we cannot leave things the way they are now and hope for better future.

    January 24, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  24. Ajede

    Obama is faced with multitudes of problems, a fact he acknowledges at every opportunity; he has also at every opportunity made it clear for Americans not to expect miracles. He has assigned experienced and intelligent people to key posts in readiness for tackling the issues. That there are not many CEO's amongst them is besides the point. The current economic mess and previous economic scandals (remember Enron?) are also to a large extent created by CEOs. Nobody knows the future, but a good or bad start plus other parameters yet unknown are a indicators of what the future will be.

    January 24, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  25. Isabel, RJ, Brazil

    The first week was very good!

    – Rules strict of transparency to the USA administration;
    – Freezing the salaries of its officials in the White House;
    – Banning the activities of lobbyists for officials of the Government;
    – End of the Guantanamo prison in a year;
    – Prohibition of torture and ill-treatment in interrogation and detention of prisoners;
    – White House 2.0 (Videocast weekly and blog, on the website of the White House).

    If the remaining weeks are at the same pace, there is hope for Americans (and for us neighbors).

    January 24, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  26. Pat Canada

    Just a thought, if all took just two minutes to remember the Past President's arrogant, rigid, my way or the highway, spend spend, war war, corporations not citizens brand of leadership, they would instantly realize the change that's come to America. I wish Canada had an Obama !

    January 24, 2009 at 8:58 am |
  27. Kaye

    I'm fond of CNN, your work is impressive, you're all on top of the latest & greatest, most of us respect the CNN-media which is why it was very disappointing to hear Mr. Anderson Cooper refer to our President as "Mr. Obama" (on 1/23/09) not once but twice. Let's remember he's not just an "elite" he's our "President"! Please show our President the respect he's entitled. Thank you.

    January 24, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  28. Ronald

    George Mitchell is an excellent choice for Middle East Envoy; he is half Lebanese, speaks fluent Arabic and understands the region far better that any other US diplomat. Add to this his proven record in Northern Ireland which was exceptional.

    January 24, 2009 at 7:14 am |
  29. Malcolm Reding

    The noted historian Arnold Toynbee wrote some years ago that the middle east was a tribal society whose tribes have been at each other throats for centuries and who will not stop as long as they have the means to fight. If you take away their guns and bombs, they will fight with sticks and stones. The only way the fighting will cease is when they have had a belly full the carnage. For the rest of the world to think they can impose peaceful solutions to this festering sore, is folly and we have more important things to do with our resources.

    January 24, 2009 at 6:33 am |
  30. Theo

    This is unbelievable! President Obama is actually full energy into trying to fix problems he inherited and starting from teh night of his inaugeration, the criticisms started!

    January 24, 2009 at 6:30 am |
  31. M.Harvie

    Mr. Gergen, your comments are always worth reading. However, if Obama is the man everybody says he is, intelligent, well organized, visionary, decisive, why all the questions about management and organization? Most of your questions are commonsense ones. Why is there a view that they are not obvious to the President and his advisers?

    It seems to me more and more that the 24/7 news cycle is one of the best of things, and, one of the worst of things. It creates the need for spinning out news with the attendant multitude of questions and angles which have no relevance. CNN is a prime example of this. Paralysis through analysis is what ensues with tangential, repetitious and irrelevant comments in an attempt to fill time. I am hopeful you will lead the charge towards more deep seated analysis and commentary, instead of the blather which comes out of most CNN programmes.

    January 24, 2009 at 5:06 am |
  32. Lyn from NYC

    David–

    I hope if anyone on Obama's team have any questions about how to handle anything in these early days they have enough sense to ask you! You make more sense, with no partisan posturing, than anyone else on TV, on any network. I learn something every time you're on. Thank you.

    January 24, 2009 at 2:35 am |
  33. Robert T.

    If President Obama would like to really stimulate the economy he might consider giving individuals a $500,000 tax deduction for 2009 and halt payroll tax deductions until you hit $500,000 in 2009. That puts the money in the hands of the people who will make new purchases and drive demand which will be guaranteed to create jobs. The people that will be paying for the bailouts might actually see the benefits of it where it counts the most, in their own homes, with their families. Providing refunds of $500 or $1,000 for people who need it to pay of existing debt is great but it does not stimulate the ecomomy. That money is already spent and does not create new purchases and new demand. I think a stimulus package should be more than just putting lipstick on a pig but a substantial increase in available cash to the consumers that drive the ecomony.

    January 24, 2009 at 2:35 am |
  34. Barbara

    I have the greatest respect in the world for David Gergen and these comments respect the same clear thinking and wisdom that I appreciate so much.

    Poor Obama as the fullest plate of any Pres. I have known in my 61 years on this earth. How he is manages so very well is unfathomable to me. I do wish pundits and political reporters wouldn't put him down as being ill-humored or whatever wording they use.

    He's busy trying to save the planet, kind of a huge job.

    January 24, 2009 at 2:24 am |
  35. Tessa

    the world is watching and waitinf to se what obama will do in his time. im from jamaica and the caribbean is waiting to see how this mark in history will affect us?

    January 24, 2009 at 2:12 am |
  36. Matt

    We are still not able to fully take this man seriously enough to be tackling the day to day, increasinlgy important issues of the American people. We all agree that we voted him to be the youngest and the first African American to be the President of USA and thereby the leader of the free world. But how he will execute the toughest decesions and rightfully...it all remains to be seen. We are all watching things as if the stage is been captivated by a brilliant magician performing the most charming magic and we all seem to be under a spell, as if this a true fairy tale...its hard to contain this realty especially during one of these worst times and what we are used to the past eight years...All we can, is hope for the best and adjust to the good news that comes by as it comes by...and at this time we can wish him all the best so that he can deliver the best for the rest of us....

    January 24, 2009 at 1:47 am |
  37. kerry Adler

    David,

    how is this for a simple two step stimulus plan:

    1) Offer business, consumers and investors (venture funds, etc..) a Zero Capital Gain Exemption on any capital assets, equities, homes or other appreciating assets if purchased with a timeframe (i.e between Feb and October) in other words, if you get out and buy a capital asset during the exemption period then on resale you would be exempt from any capital gains tax. This get banks, equity and pension funds and more importantly consumer buying homes and businesses, investing in startups and stimulating the economy. obviously it will affect the tax base down the road when the IRS does not collect the capital gains it was expecting but this plan will create so many new jobs and ignite the economy that new payroll taxes created by the growth will offset the loss of the capital gains tax.

    option#2: give every american consumer over the age of 13 a pre-paid visa card with $1000 on it and an expiry date (90 days). This ensure that the stimulus will be used for groceries, gas, travel, restaurants and purchases (electronics, white goods, car down payments, etc). This insures that the stimulus funds get plowed right back into the economy in a short period of time and not taken by the consumer, tucked away as savings or squandered.

    Implementing both options simultaneously, drives a flurry of investments which avoid future capital tax and ensure the money is spent in a fashion which really would stimulate the economy and be able to be measure in real time based on timing of use of pre-paid visa card and use of the proceed based on existing tracking software built in to the Visa card charge processing center.

    its like hybrid food stamps with an expiry date. What a novel idea. perhaps the bean counters should run a simulation and came to the same conclusions i did. I call it the Kerry Theory for rapid and controlled stimulus with full accountability.

    your thoughts?

    Kerry

    January 24, 2009 at 1:45 am |
  38. LisaL - Canada

    time just disappeared, didn't it – from Sarah Palin's "wink wink" during the debate, to Bushes J. and Sr. departing on "the plane formerly known as Air Force One". is it actually less than a week since Obama was sworn in? twice? feels like it has been months.

    i am pleased that there was action taken to stop interrogation at Guantanamo, as well as a review of detainee's cases. if a person is willing to die as a martyr for their cause, i shudder to think at the level of "interrogation" that would be considered "enough" to break their spirit. where do you draw the line?

    and what about detainees who were innocent? i am sure there were NEVER any cases of incorrect assumptions, erroneous data-pattern analysis, or mistaken identity. if an innocent person can't or won't confess to something they are not guilty of, where is the limit on "crank it up a notch" until it's determined you really don't know, vs you just weren't willing to talk.

    i'm not saying safety and security should be put at risk. but a review of certain things under a new administration is probably not a bad idea.

    January 24, 2009 at 1:36 am |
  39. Mike Gilmore

    David
    Let's see, we haven't had a terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. So two of the first things (I thought he said he would be putting the economy first) was to close GITMO and totally ban "torture". I didn't like the idea of GITMO or the US using true torture. But in these times when your enemy doesn't even know what the Geniva Convention is, much less honor it, things had to be done and they produced the results.
    I see a terrorist attack on the US by 2010 that will make 9/11 look like a prank. The three liberals that now run this country will be responsible!

    January 24, 2009 at 1:31 am |
  40. marty misenheimer

    David, I always wait to hear what you have to say. I trust your wisdom on matters in DC. I am a big obama supporter, and I cannot imagine that ever changing. But I have always looked to your comments to get a true read on how he was doing in campaign, and now that we won, I will be continue to trust your wisdom.

    January 24, 2009 at 1:15 am |
  41. James from TN

    Dems control all houses except the judiciary there's no reason he should not be able to get his agenda passed.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:26 am |
  42. Daniel

    I think Mr. President has started his job well, we should give him a chance to do his job for the country. It is not very easy to be the president of the United States, not only are being looked upon by the people here but people of the world they are all looking to the USA. I think its time for us as American to start respecting our president first. They all derseve the respect. All the political parties should unite behind the president no matter what he comes from.
    What matters to me is that when someone become the president of the USA give him the respect his deserve.
    May God bless the United States and may God bless our president.
    and may God protect our soldiers.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:20 am |
  43. alvie starkey

    Dear David, keep up the good work. your the only one that is listening to what the people are saying. I wish President Obama the best and do hope it all works out well. by the way the hat you wore was awesome........wolf and anderson should only be half as cool.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:08 am |
  44. Bruce Peterson

    As I sit and read these comments on Obama, Bush, and the republicans, I am amazed at attempts to rewrite history, and then defend Obama from attacks. George Bush was attacked by the liberlas from day one. He attempted to work with both parties, but dems did everything they could to get in the way. He attempted to evacuate NO before Katrina but dems in charge refused his offer. Then congress argued about how badly he reponded, and yet they did nothing for future hurricane relief.
    Now obama chnages his new directive on hiring lobbyists one day after making it, essentially saying he will follow it unless he doesn't. he is trying to shove a flawed economic plan down the throats of the republicans when he never asked any of them what they wanted until it is now time to vote. Let the bill be debated as is the American way, and let's have the opportunity to remove bad plans and strengthen good ones. Winning the election does not mean he gets to tell everyone what to do, no questions asked.
    plan is terrible, let him defend it. If he can't defend it, don't say we are nit picking him, we deserve to know.

    January 24, 2009 at 12:06 am |
  45. Nissanka Wickramasekera

    This young man as your President, married into this job with a litany of problems ranging from two wars, high unemployment in all fronts, unbelievable debt beyond belief even to the Red China and he is only trying to recover America and its people but as media, you are too harsh on him trying to find any mistake you can make a story for the day. When Bush went with his own agenda to create this chaos you are in today, no one made any effort to put him on the spot. As David said and I agree, in this short span as President, Mr. Barack Obama has done a remarkable job so far than any other president in your history. Therefore, guys/gals, in the media please back off and let him do his job, for he has done wonderfully well so far.
    Just my personal opinion and observation and hope everyone is the same page.
    Toronto

    January 23, 2009 at 11:57 pm |
  46. Karen

    President Obama is performing magnificently!!

    January 23, 2009 at 11:54 pm |
  47. Eric from BC

    David,
    Have learned over the past couple of years that your insights are thoughtful and contain reasoned, balanced opinions supported by facts. Look forward to your appearance on any part of the media coverage.... With regard to your new president my simple question is the gold standard - Who has better ideas than Barack? Maybe his ideas will not work. I am sure he doesn't know but neither does anyone else. These ideas are at least presented in as flawless a way as possible and may work. The job of Americains and indeed the rest of us in the world is to pick the side of enlightened, progressive, ethical leadership and then support it. There will be false starts and mistakes. Obama himself has stated that but for once in my short lifetime let's give hope a shot......

    January 23, 2009 at 11:47 pm |
  48. Suzanne

    David –
    Let's be careful not to mis-represent the "I won" sound bite. Regarding the $800 + billion economic life ring that's in the works, success requires bi-partisanship – even IF the dems have the votes to go it alone. Maybe even more so given the long road we're on to overcoming so many ills.

    SB

    January 23, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  49. Theresa

    While listening to Anderson Cooper my husband asked why does Anderson keep saying "Barack"...he also stated he doesn't recall Anderson referring to the former president as "George". All I can say, "is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks". Show respect Anderson address the President as such!!

    January 23, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  50. Mike, Syracuse NY

    David,
    Regarding the stimulus, there seems to be a lot of disagreement over what is needed and how it should be done (bottoms up or top down). I get the impression that we are in a 'bring me a different color rock' mode. If one thing fails, try somethiong else. Yet nothing seems to have a consensus that it will wrok. It seems less that there is partisan politics working, and more a legitimate difference of opinion.

    I agree with you on lines of authority. If the chain of command isn't perfectly clear to everyone, it will breal down and fail. All these czars and special positions seem to greatly overlap cabinet responsibilities. How does that work? On top of that you have Biden who claims the role of chief advisor.

    January 23, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
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