Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Can Obama fill his own big shoes?

Wherever there is hope, there is the possibility of disappointment. The past eight years of President Bush has resulted in an impressively low presidential approval rating (about 31 percent) and a new height of public distrust for the government. The country is searching with heightened enthusiasm for a replacement and a quick fix to a wide array of problems.

The Democrats are closing in on their answer. The answer packages a young man with what some describe as a cult following that has propelled a no-name candidate past arguably the biggest household name in politics: Clinton.

Barack Obama has attached his candidacy and presidential hopes to an idea of renewed hope. His lofty campaign ideas describe some of the most smiled-upon political personas in American history, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

With sights set so high for a possible Obama presidency, the thoughts of the past eight years continue to ring loudly in the ears of Americans. However, what happens if Obama does not fulfill those promises. People must be reminded of just how lofty his goals are.

From defeating partisanship, fixing the health care system, ending the war in Iraq, pulling the economy out of a recession, and uniting a divided America, Obama’s not only promising he will hit a home run but he is pointing to where the ball is going to land before the pitch is even thrown.To heal the wounds that have ripped through the middle class, causing anger and mistrust will be difficult. John Edwards, during his latest presidential run brought up a valid criticism when he faulted Obama for an unwillingness to fight.

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times dubbed Obama “Obambi” during some of the earlier months of the campaign. Dowd knew that for Obama to fix the problems that he promised to correct he would have to confront such embedded Washington interests and that a simple everyone-should-get-along approach would not be enough.

Lately Obama has shown an ability that John Kerry in 2004 never demonstrated – the political backbone to defend his character in the face of attacks. The subtle comebacks and quips during the debates give the electorate hope that Obama will not simply accept the status-quo.

If Obama does succeed, and Jan 20, 2009 is the day America watches the candidate of hope become the 44th President of The United States, there will be an incredible excitement before the sobering experience of a president’s first one-hundred days in office.

Undoubtedly legislation will be placed on the desks of the members of Congress and debate will ensue. The Republicans, however, may – even though there power has considerably been weakened – put up a determined fight to make Obama a lame duck.

The Republican Party knows how to press pause on a democratic presidency and if the GOP were to lose two branches of government the animosity of the right may boil over.

Bills will be shot down, compromises ignored and parliamentary procedures abused in order to make the public view an Obama presidency as a failing one. These were the tactics that were used against a moderate Democrat like Bill Clinton throughout his entire tenure as commander in chief.

Budgets were overly haggled over, minor scandal after minor scandal was unearthed and investigated past the extent of the scandal and a demonization effort by the right was used to turn a public hostile towards the Clintons. These tactics are largely the reason that Hillary Clinton entered the presidential race with disapproval rating that approached 45 percent throughout the country.

While Obama’s charisma may in fact exceed the political genius of Bill Clinton, Obama will be leading a nation in unnaturally delicate times against a bitter party that he is doubtful to find corporative. History has shown that in politics, after a crisis or disappointment, the leader who promises the most, whether possible or not, is often elected.

If elected, however, the question comes down to whether or not Obama will be able to do what every presidential candidate promises to some extent during their election campaign, to create a mandate of the people to pressure Congress into enacting their political agenda into law.

Obama has promised to follow this method, to apply pressure to make change by uniting America through a message of hope towards a better tomorrow. However, if he goes down the path, even if just slightly, of president Bush and begins pressuring politicians in smoke-filled rooms to further his political agenda, his presidency is bound to be a failure.

If Obama promises greatness and can only produce a slightly-above-average presidency, will the change from his campaign promises to reality make his time in office a disappointment?

Michael Phillis is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]

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