Tuesday, January 20, 2009


His election to the presidency of the United States in November 2008, while marking a very historic moment in America, is surely not the climactic point in former Senator Barack Obama’s ascent to power. Today, before an estimated crowd of two million from all across America, and in the icy cold Washington weather, Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States – officially sealing the first African-American’s assumption to the highest office in the land.

After being administered the oath of office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Pres. Barack Obama delivered the inaugural address in his usual eloquent and measured oratorical skills that caught the nation’s attention and fired up his quest to the presidency.

While the theme of President Obama’s speech revolved around the need to return to the old values that shaped America as a nation of opportunity and power – such as hard work, honesty, courage, fair play, loyalty and patriotism – in confronting its new challenges, he sent a strong message against America’s enemies and in stressing his uncompromising stand of adhering to America’s ideals in protecting its security.

President Obama warned would be aggressors in no uncertain terms that they will not outlast America and will be defeated. At the same time he is leaving an open door for authoritarian regimes and expressed readiness to help them if they are ready to embrace and practice democratic ideals, such as Cuba, for example, with whom the U.S. has had strained relations for years since Fidel Castro came into power in 1959.

In what may be considered as a strong rebuff of George W. Bush’s policy on torture and other practices of questionable constitutionality in dealing with terrorists, such as the maintenance of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons, renditions, and surveillance of citizens’ personal communications, Obama declared as false the choice between safety and ideals in defending the nation’s security. Obama appears to be stressing here that the constitutional safeguards and protections will not be set aside for the sake of national security, in contrast with Bush and Cheney’s policies.

For all the fanfare and festivities that marked this historic inauguration, hard work and seemingly insurmountable challenges immediately await President Obama. Confronted with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a steady threat to the nation’s security, a spiraling economy, and a demanding foreign policy environment in the Middle East, Obama knows that he does not have the time to spare in confronting the pressing problems of the world’s most powerful nation.

It is to his credit and a testament to his readiness that President Obama and his team of savvy political advisers and strategists started laying the groundwork for a ready and working president come day one; his people coordinated one of the smoothest transitions to power in U.S. presidential history, his key economic and national security team have been assembled long before the inauguration, and his economic relief plan is already being worked out with congressional leaders.

Both America and the world await what type of leader President Obama will be. There is obviously great expectation as to what can be achieved, and as soon as Obama started rolling his sleeves there will surely be disappointments and there will be those who will start questioning their allegiance and support; there will be unpopular decisions that will be made, statements that will not be acceptable, priorities that will not get support, but if the presidential campaign, transition, and inauguration – accomplished with organization and high efficiency – coupled with Obama’s vision and a popular support are indications, there is hope that an Obama presidency might just turn out to be the leadership that America and the world need.

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