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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. Theo

    It amazes me that in such a monumentally important week, all the mainstream media can only focus on the negative or spreading pessimism. We all heard a message of optimism, hope and inspiration this week, and a call for us to "put aside childish things", unite and work together to restore this country and our world. Why can't the media report on the fact that the inauguration pumped $2 Billion into the Washington area economy these last few weeks – a clear indication that people will spend if they care enough. Why aren't we hearing about how the small businesses thrived, and what we can do in our local communities to spur the economy in a similar way. Why aren't we hearing more about what other Cabinet members were up to this week? Why not report on the infrastructure projects that can be started and how the Republican and Democrats are working with their constituencies to lift the spirits and economies for the people who have voted them into office? So much real news to talk about, and all we hear about is doubt, pessimism and petty scandals. Such a shame when one considers what we are all capable of doing and being when properly inspired...

    January 25, 2009 at 8:20 pm |
  2. Dan F. Graham

    Why can't the announcers on this station and other refer to the president as "president Oabama? Stop referring to him as Obama, he is the president whether you like it or not.

    Total disrespect of the man and office of the presidency!

    Dan F. Grahan

    January 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm |
  3. MLS

    This is black and white proof of the ignorance and hypocrisy of democrats and liberals. You've screamed about what Pres Bush did or did not do, but can't stand a little criticism of your so-called leader. God have mercy on us. You want patience, you got it, I and many others hope and pray you can live with yourselves.

    January 25, 2009 at 7:57 pm |
  4. Ratna, New York, NY

    Dear David,

    Bush's foreign policy approach created more sparks in terror, and he compensates with the Surge to balance this out. US involvement in support one-sided Eastern leaders leads to more hate, more terror attacks etc. At this point India is seen as a trader of policies of the west and selling out his eastern counter-part Pakistan.

    I truly have faith in the fact that Obama's approach in foreign policy will balance terror attacks down, retrieving US Army and lower Surge spending.

    A very interesting person to discuss my mentioned views is Michael Moore.

    January 25, 2009 at 7:38 pm |
  5. Scott Patterson

    Wow, I am surprised how naive Mr. Gergen has become! Obama's initial steps on Guatanomo are at best procrastination fluffed with words to pacify the mindless left. The same problems will exist after the "commission" studies the issue.

    His declarations on "torture" which really refer to the way we have interrogated people since WWII, will have an instant, and accumulating detrimental effect on our intelligence. Our enemies will simply use Obama's weakness as a period to re-group from the beating they have taken during the Bush years.

    But of course the Euro crowd will like us a little more....so it all kinda balances, right??

    January 25, 2009 at 7:03 pm |
  6. Steve Jones

    Your objective keen insight is a credit to CNN and politics in general. It is refreshing to hear your positions that are not tainted by a Republican or Democrat based ideology for the sake of being Democrat or Republican. May President Obama promote a similar approach to getting things done in the Capitol, and we will witness the true Change he based his campaign on. He has gotten off to a rousing start.

    January 25, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  7. Tracy Brown - Ontario Canada

    David: I enjoy your perspective tremendously and always look forward to hearing your perspective.

    I think it's important to make a clear distinction with regard to your remark, "more questions than answers seem to be swirling around Barack Obama", that these questions have much more to do with the extreme nature of the global economic crisis than they pertain to questions regarding his ability, intelligence, leadership skills and the quality of the team he has put together. Which is, perhaps your very point.

    It seems quite clear that Americans have elected a man of clear vision and purpose who has really hit the ground running in his first week in office. He has accomplished a great deal already in a very short space of time.

    Patience is ultimately required. A quick fix is, not possible. It took years to produce the financial disaster that is now unfolding. However, it seems to me that many of the economic plans that are being proposed have such wonderful long term benefit on so many fronts that having the resolve to stay the course is imperative.

    In addition, the new website, "recovery", that allows people to track the money that's being spent is a fantastic idea. Truly, he is changing the relationship between the people and his office in a way that is transparent and provides a real and direct voice to the people.

    I wish we had that type of leadership here.

    January 25, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  8. debbieqd

    Thank you, David. You always seem to have your hand on the pulse of American sentiment. It is SO hard to maintain patience with these Republican obstructionists but, I sincerely hope President Obama does not give up trying to work together.

    January 25, 2009 at 6:06 pm |
  9. tony

    When will we hear what most Americans are waiting to hear,What will the Governments response be to America's 2nd Katrina. The Mortgage Crisis. We heard for a long time that this is what led to this great economic crisis and again Government is slow to respond and then its response seems inadequate (sound familiar).. We don't have people on rooftops we have them being kicked out of their homes. The government must stop foreclosures now if that means buying every mortgage about to foreclose then do it. All these great programs announced to assist mean little if none of the lenders are doing them nor does it address the damage that was done to the credit report so the people wont qualify anyway. How long before these so called experts understand that first you must stop the housing catastrophy. By buying the mortgages you inject money into the banks, which in turn stops the declining value , establish consumer confidence promote jobs. It would also show the rest of the world our leadership and reestablish confidence globally. Since the mortgage crisis was blamed for this why are we using stimulus incentives for everything but. Mr President maybe you ought to recruit a few real experts from those of us who know how to stretch a buck, make do on little , look and listen and understand that whats being proposed may be good for the long run, but how much longer is our government going to have another failed response.

    January 25, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  10. Bill Sanford

    I watched CNN this afternoon run what could only be described as a "Commercial for Obama"... and the election is already over.

    The clip was presented as "News"

    I doubt there is much that is newsworthy here in Gergen's piece.

    January 25, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  11. Charles

    JC in Los Angeles-that was very well said.

    January 25, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  12. KAREN

    Lets give OBAMA a chance insted of slaming him hes gona be fair and tell the truth thats what we need thats why we voted for the man are goverment soon well be for the people,unlike the past goverment system,who wore for the richest,and lied and covered things up ,hopefully on day theyll answer for all theyve done.

    January 25, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  13. Steve from Somerset

    David,

    You pointed out in your excellent book, Eyewitness to Power, that a substantial number of people from the Nixon Administration went on to become Secretaries of State, Secretaries of Defense, Treasury Secretaries, White House Chiefs of Staff, etc. in subsequent Administrations.

    I fear that unless those who committed violations of our laws and Constitution (wiretapping, denial of due process, torture, etc) may themselves become leaders in some future Administration.

    For this reason, I think it is vital that President Obama should instruct the Justice Department to investigate the wrongdoing of the Bush Administration and indict whoever needs to be indicted.

    Any response from you on this question on CNN or other venues would be appreciated.

    January 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  14. Kae Webster

    Ok here are my two cents ... We have some serious issues to deal with so here are my hopes ..1) members of congress and the senate recognize this and check their egos and personal interests at the door .2) We all , every last one of us take our elected officials to task for putting up road blocks they work for us after all and should be representing our greater interests .3) To all those out there still bitter about the results ..get over it and fast we need constructive opinions and goodwill if we are going to get anything done ..become an asset to the collective !
    Oh no I've said to much ..I haven't said enough ....

    January 25, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  15. vince

    hi dave i think barack should give joe biden to keep close watch on putin visa v georgia ukiane hi anderson vince cork ireland

    January 25, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  16. OKUMU-RINGA P.A.

    Anderson Coopers,your coverage is very good and I watch the programmes regularly on CNN International. President Barack Obama has done well so far, thanks to the Power Of God Almighty. The four days of his Presidency has given hope the the American people and the rest of the World.

    I am from East Africa, had my education in the USA ,1st as an AFSI, exchange student at Buchtell High shcool in Akron Ohio, lived in the family of an African American, 1969/1970 and had University Education in USA.

    I would like to write a book on the election of Barack Obama as the 1st African-American President and would like to talk to the President before I do it, how would you advise me ? When you next have an assignment of travell to East Africa, let me know so that I may meet you and talk about my book project. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you can. If i get to travell to the USA one of these day I will contact you.

    January 25, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  17. OKUMU-RINGA P.A.

    David, some us who worked and prayed for Barack Obama to become [POTUSA] are not surprised by the the smooth and flowless manner in which the campagn process and the victory of 11/04/2008 was achieved.
    I am writing a book on the electoral process,I need a publisher, please advise. Congratulations [BO/POTUSA]

    January 25, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  18. Ray Fisher

    President Obama's greatest challenge is the mood of the nation toward his recovery program. The days of instant gratification are over as is the Era of Irresponsibility which we have enjoyed and exploited for many years spanning several administrations. We must face facts that we have only ourselves to blame yet our new President dare not risk another "Malaise Speech" as when President Carter dared speak the truth and was abandoned by our nation. Our best course of action is to rebuild our nation upon a cash foundation shunning the convienence and juvenile tendencies of our sinful credit callousness. President Obama cannot speak the truth for fear of political suicide yet it doesn't negate the facts that to recover we must first admit we have a problem. Then we can embark upon the slow road to recovery yet it musn't be a fast road else we risk another economic meltdown. The slow but reliable method to a firm economic foundation is simply to save our money and borrow off its capital thereby ending the free-spending ways of our past. We needn't concern ourselves with the future if we allow the past to recur!!!

    January 25, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  19. Jerry

    It seems the crucial questions is:

    Are they team players or loose cannons.

    January 25, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  20. ashok choudhury

    Ohh, too many questions too soon . A little wait and watch will rather be good. For analysts. For Obama. For America.
    Expect the good start to unfold many things really better.
    Obama's sincerity of purpose, positive outlook and honest try may work more than what is expected now. Just he needs a little time before being 'judged'.

    January 25, 2009 at 9:57 am |
  21. Jim Douglas

    Hillary Clinton is a jackass, just like her husband. Obama won't do any better than anyone else, He's not the messiah like all this misbeguided folks think he is, plain and simple

    January 25, 2009 at 9:38 am |
  22. SAWASKI

    IF OBAMA GONE SEND A MONEY PACKAGE HE NEEDS TO SEND 4 OR 5 OF THEM PRISONS IS GETTIN OVERCROWDED CRIME RATE IS UP

    January 25, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  23. Patrick Kalala

    Can the media devote some time to discuss about the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo? Nearly 6,000,000 million people have lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict. Larent Nkunda has been arrested as far as what is being reporeted; however, many questions need to be answered.

    Why is he going to Kigali instead of Kinshasa, or the Hague?
    How can the Congo be sure that Rwanda won't let him loose later on, soon as diplomatic relations are no longer good?
    Isn't this a way of giving a break to a war criminal?

    Why haven't they arrested Bosco Ntangada also, knowing that there is an outstanding ICC warrant for his arrest?
    Does this mean that Congolese should "thank you" the Rwandan army?
    For how long is the Rwandan army going to stay on the Congolese territory?

    January 25, 2009 at 8:40 am |
  24. Saginaw

    The best thing President Obama has done in the first three days is to piss off the Pope.

    Personally, I hope this is followed up by a popular movement to end diplomatic relations with the Holy See after 25 erroneous years. President Reagan was responsible both for that violation of church and state separation, AND the gelding of funds for Family Planning Clinics – information about options tarred as necessarilty pro-abortion.

    January 25, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  25. Betty

    It is indeed a historical moment in time. Still let's not forget how President Obama first started out. He went to school. He studied. He went to College. He studied. He was not afraid of obstacles. He was not afraid to take the chance. Challenges only make him stronger and more determined. So lets push forward with education. Yes, saying we can be anything we want to be sounds good, but lets not forget what it takes to be that person in that position. Educate, educate, educate.

    January 25, 2009 at 4:43 am |
  26. Doug

    While I generally agree with you, I also think you missed a larger point.

    Yes, Obama faces serious challenges. Yes, he will make mistakes. Yes, there will be opposition.

    People are tired of petty partisan quarrels that lead to nothing.

    As long as Obama continues to strive for success, continues to be optimistic, continues to adapt to new facts, continues to be civil and respectful – in short, as long as Obama puts country ahead of party, policy, campaign promises, and personal interest, he will have strong support from the American people.

    Republicans and Democrats in Congress better start putting country first by getting things done.

    January 25, 2009 at 2:57 am |
  27. bob whitford

    It's been really only 2 days, the 1st one doesn't count ..
    and we've already seen change.

    Wait until Obama's administration gets the phones and computers working, and hits its stride.

    It's been 8 years since we've had competent leadership.
    We're about to see outstanding leadership.

    January 25, 2009 at 2:04 am |
  28. KIm

    Razzle,Dazzle Obama !

    January 25, 2009 at 1:33 am |
  29. J.V.Hodgson

    Frankly David I believe your assessment is correct and that he has made a fine start.
    I have one objection to your well constructed article. Before Obama was elected the Punditry including yourself were questioning whether he was tough enough to be President. Then when he says "I won" to his republican colleagues, who are proposing unacceptable changes relevant to the Tax portion, he is putting himself at risk. No way he had to do it sometime, and that was as good a reason as any. Also he did see he would meet the republican caucus next week so I see it all as stick and carrot which is the right order. I challenge republicans to try and filibuster on this... the Voter will crucify them and so will Obama, and the democrats.
    The Holbrooke , Mitchell appointments send one of the best messages re the future direction of American international policy I have heard in a long time. Too long!!
    The government should sue Merrill and its CEO re the bonus issue $3/4bn is 7% of thier 4th quarter loss. How can you pay bonusesn when the company might be going bust!! They should be forced to pay them back.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    January 25, 2009 at 1:08 am |
  30. Kristina

    I get that Obama has been in office a few days. However, there are immediate problems set to occur for public school districts all over this country. If he does not act now, it will be too late to help. Most states are feeling the economic times like every other American. The need to balance the budget is becoming the focus. The states are quickly seeing the fastest way to save money is to not give it to the public schools. I am a teacher in Arizona, and every week it seems the district leaders are sending out e-mails about massive cuts. I searched on-line, and these cuts our occuring nation-wide. The latest figures the state has sent to my district shows that we will be receiving $5.5 million less for next school year. The talk is going to half day kindergarten and a four day school week. Not to mention an increase in class sizes and the termination of staff. 85% of a schools budget goes to staff. If my district is already $5.5 million in the hole before the first day of school next year, where does that put student learning? How does eliminating the education from the generation that could learn from our mistakes, and really help fix this problem make any sense?

    January 25, 2009 at 12:45 am |
  31. Pipoyo

    Habeas corpus set them free and they will be dropped where they were picked up or their country origine. In the other hand, those who are hidden and supported OBL will be killed if they prevent justice to do its course and to quote a blogger, " no prisoners this time"

    Somehow, at the end Congress must end this war too if Al Queda is no longer a threat to US and its allied.

    President Obama will end the War in Iraq because there were no WMD, and no link of Saddan to 9/11. He must settle the issue of statehood in the Land of Palestine so Jew and arab extremist can settle for peace, unity, tolerance and forgiveness and that issue is the center of jihadist violence mouvement in the muslim world. He must also develop democracy, freedom of religion, market economic in the middle east to fight poverty, disease ,ect in order to ease the mind of many in the region . The only loser in this conflict is the people of Christian faith. Ooops!, forget Vatican.

    No question, the economic situation is more important in the mind of American than for a 250 muslin/arad supporters caught in the line of fire and were lucky to be alive on top of torturing them to seek whereabout of OBL and its supporters.

    Many died in 9/11, and somehow they deserved justice , President Obama.

    --------------------------–

    January 25, 2009 at 12:34 am |
  32. Jim,California

    David,
    The Question on the stimulas plan is Who is going to get it? the Rich who squander the money or the poor who have learned how to use what little they have wisely. The Government has given Billions to the Banks with no accountabillity- I'm one of the poor- unemployed for 2 years I can pay off all my debts & pay my bills ahead for 4 years with $20,000.00 & I could account for every penny spent. The last " Stimulas " package last year I got nothing, nada, zilch zero because I didn't make enough money in 2007 yet I have paid taxes since I entered the work force in 1983.

    January 25, 2009 at 12:10 am |
  33. Clarence Albuquerque

    Obama can kiss off his hopes of getting dozens of Republicans on board in the House : if Obama has less living people to deal will the money required to support, educate and defend, the economic demands lessen. Abortion for whoever wants it (English speaking or not) makes the major problems vanish. Less immigrants; less healthcare, less spending;less undesired races, less racism... wow all with the swipe of a pen.

    January 25, 2009 at 12:09 am |
  34. Rick Medina,OH

    David,

    Great article, but I think it's a bit early to describe lines of authority as 'tangled.' Let's give these folks a chance to sharpen their pencils, get to know each other, and get their offices in order. I don't think we need to be extensively patient, but give them more than 3 days.

    Rick, OH

    January 24, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  35. Peggy Molloy

    Hello! Is there a reason that 60,000 people were ignored today in San Francisco? Can you explain the black out on a position that television networks do not approve of? Is your greatest fear that Sarah Palin might be right? Don't believe me, check it out at EWTN.com.

    January 24, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  36. ROBERT, ACTON MA

    David,

    The feds gave away 350 billion and lost it. They don't know where it went.

    Remember Enron? There were laws implemented to address such events.

    They need to take a business management approach to the TARP and the bailout.

    Tell them to get CONTROL over the process. The Obama economic team should follow the principles behind SOX, implement some accountability and planning behind the economic rescue. Get a set of objectives and measure performance.

    Just don't give away our money. I'll be writing a check on April 15th.

    January 24, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  37. Lynn

    I think the first 72 hours have been packed with action that has been well thought out. As always, I will listen you to David but not always agree. Thanks for always putting some things into perspective.

    January 24, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  38. Ed P

    So you are going to take a Partisan approach to looking at his first few days, and NOT a far reaching approach, and Looking at ALL of the potential consequences to his Actions and Words?

    This is the SAME type of Rhetoric Spewed when FDR, upon assuming office, Took us into the Great Depression, that lasted more than 10 years. Apparently you think that BHObama is smarter than FDR? Cause ALL of this spending will lead to ONE THING, Higher Taxes that the Middle and Lower classes CANNOT AFFORD right now.

    And do not try to argue that, "The Rich will have to pay their fair share", cause they ALREADY DO, paying 40% of ALL taxes when they Only number at 5-10% of the population.

    And you think that Closing Guantanamo is going to Engender the USA to those who want to see us Terminated? That is BLIND to the Realities of the Universe. They will view this a being WEAK.

    B.Hussein Obama has Failed in his first three days, and just wait for the RESULTS that will show the US to be much more vulnerable while being in a Deep Depression that will make the one of the 1930's Look like a game of "patty-cake"!

    January 24, 2009 at 8:38 pm |
  39. Sharon A

    It's really depressing when the media is so pessimistic regarding President Obama's actions....With the way his campaign was run, why not believe that he has a bigger plan in mind that is for the benefit of the Country. As a person that actually thinks before he acts, we should give him more credit....

    January 24, 2009 at 8:36 pm |
  40. james a byrd

    he is off to a good start! abortions,Guantanamo bay, what is he going to do with those psychopathic terrorist killers when they get out???they will prolly be very well taken care of..AT THE WHITE HOUSE! all i can say is good luck for the white christian man! because if ur black or a Muslim "terrorist" ur fine......

    January 24, 2009 at 8:32 pm |
  41. surscheler

    Instead of wasting time trying to figure out when the president is going to act on the financial bailout it is best to go out and actively do something to bail yourself of the financial mess. Deliver pizzas, start a business or do whatever it takes. That is what I am doing not sitting there waiting for someone to solve my life.

    If you want the easy/lazy way out then Obama could increase taxes or request a big donation from all the Hollywood bigwigs that showed up at the inauguration like Oprah, Bruce Springsteen etc. and use that money to advance the bailout for those most suffering. How much money is in the bailout for Pelosi's home state of California and Hollywood movie and recording business is what I would like to know. I don't expect Obama to be any better than Bush in solving the financial problem so I am not holding my breath. It is up to the regular folks like us to get us out of this mess and it will take time for everyone to get their house/home in order.

    January 24, 2009 at 8:30 pm |
  42. Linda

    I am a Republican and I really proud of the good start President Obama is off to. What a breath of fresh air and competence.
    We are all in this together so we need him to succeed.

    January 24, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  43. ellington7

    What strikes me is the lack of faith which shrowds the heart of a supposed "faithful country". No president can wave a magic wand and make everything better, but the fact that we have someone who understands the problem, and is making honest, conserted efforts to remedy it should bring relief. For 8 years we watched as Bush excluded us, took away our rights, fanned the flames of hate around the world, and made us less safe at home, but now we have someone who's different. We have someone who I and millions of others think has our best interests at heart, so give him a chance will you!! You are a great writter Mr. Gergan, and very well informed on what's going on in our govt., but try to be alittle more optimistic and patient yourself, and stop trying to use key words and phrases to make us "less" patient and optimistic. We have too much crap to deal with, so don't be like faux news, but be like the journalist of old and be objective, but do it in a way as to not bring us down, but lift us up.

    January 24, 2009 at 8:11 pm |
  44. Rikki, Fargo, ND

    Mr. Gergen,

    President Obama has really hit the ground running. And it really it encouraging to me as well as others. And this may be a bit early to say this but to me it really feels like he is giving us the hope and working on the change that he promised during his campaign. I'm really excited to see how the next four years unfolds for our new president and our country!

    January 24, 2009 at 7:28 pm |
  45. fred

    Obama is a joke. His administration smells Shakespear.

    January 24, 2009 at 6:58 pm |
  46. Audrey

    Why not give small businesses a tax cut? They will invest in projects that have a return. Politically-minded lawmakers invest in projects that have a return at the ballot box. Since Obama claims to have so much faith in the people, why not give them a chance to get us out of this crisis? The cronies in DC (repubs and dems alike) are too wasteful and corrupt to be trusted with so much taxpayer money.

    January 24, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  47. Wim Th. ten Hagen ten Holder

    David,
    speaking of change, remember Obama with a paint roller in his hand
    on the morning before The Day? H.R.H.Prins Willem-Alexander of
    The Netherlands, soon to be King, said: I look forward to meet him,
    but I don't think we are high on his list." Wim, The Hague, Holland.

    January 24, 2009 at 6:39 pm |
  48. sgt soulia

    David,
    Thanks for a great post, our news feeds are a little limited here in Iraq so I use this format a lot to get the unvarnished opinions of people like you, and those who comment, to get a feel for the mood of America that I wouldn't otherwise get. I wanted to say that I have seen so many "nay-sayers", mostly talking heads, (on other nets) giving the President a hard time over trivial things like; what the first lady wore, the vagueness of his speech, or the fumble with the unnecessary oath. So thank you for remaining objective and laying out the situation rather than your yea or nay on Pres. Obamas efforts, you are dead right that it's going to be tough battle to move this economic and foreign affairs ball uphill again from where fmr. Pres Bush dropped it. Would be nice to hear more of the power players get behind the stimulous plan, or adding something positive to the discussion rather than just saying it won't work! Thanks again, Sgt Soulia, Iraq.

    January 24, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  49. Nadine Willis

    I do appreciate David Gergen's opinion and his cool hat!

    President Obama has worked hard since his election to prepare for this week. He seems to be genuinely interested in doing a good job and including as many voices as possible. He also seems to be someone who welcomes input. So, if anyone has a better Idea, just let him know.

    That's a changewe can live with.

    January 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  50. Brandi - bottom of the boot

    Hello David Gergen,

    i must agree with annie kate on this one. i dont expect the president to get everything right or to have all the answers at the moment the questions arise.

    he is still human, what i expect from him is to do his best with what he has to work with, and i entrust our newly elected president with that power. not blindly of course, but i believe he wants to be everything that people expect him to be, he doesnt want to let anyone down. this is a completely irrational desire, but if it keeps him ticking and it drives him to make the best decisions he can for the people, so be it.

    as always, it is a pleasure hearing from you and i am so glad you are still on ac360! i was so afraid we would not be seeing you anymore.

    January 24, 2009 at 5:46 pm |
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