The American Horizon

Dillon Zhou

Throughout the Presidential Race of ’08, many observers have praised our current president for his charismatic character and role as the savior of the American people – thus building a very rosy picture of Mr. Obama’s potential, while paying little attention to his otherwise tame record as a civil servant, for the American public to consume. Indeed, he has been the darling of the media since the announcement of his candidacy in February 2007. All spectators have been charmed by his idealism, enthralled by his powerful oratory, and seduced by his promises for a bright future for America. Now that Mr. Obama has become the 44th President of the United States of America, there are extraordinary expectations put on his shoulders in terms of how he manages the problems that we face at home and abroad; both areas of concern seems to entail its own chasm of troubles that make Mr. Obama’s duty as President a Herculean one.

The domestic front is just one single problem: the economy. The recent shock and metaphoric cardiac arrest experience – by the way of a financial meltdown in September, 2008 – has gone a long way in destroying public confidence in the foundations of economy and those who manage its well being. Doom and gloom are the words of Wall Street and all other exchanges across the globe – as the scale and depth of the “Global Economic Crisis” remains a subject of wonderment and analysis. The American people’s homes remain in dire risk for many, while others risk falling into the default status with the mounting costs in everyday goods and commodities. Credit has become a scarcity since the downfall of most American investment banks since the advent of the “Global Economic Crisis 2008.” The NASDAQ and Dow Jones have been in the toilet since September with an irregular pattern that reflects the mood in Main Street America. The American nation’s infrastructure has been officially deemed out of date in most respects when compared to Europe and the rest of the world. Perhaps most troubling of all is the matter of job loss during the last three months 2008 – with 7.2 percent of the US workforce unemployed according to official reports without considering all of the losses occurring under the counter. Not since 1945 have more jobs been lost in a single year. Lastly, there is the conundrum of renovating the source of momentum for the American economy (which will be addressed in one of the following segments).

The troubles in the foreign affairs department don’t offer an easier laundry list to tackle. The current military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq remain intractable in terms of a practical plan for ending US involvement – as the US sponsored governments remain unready for independent operations. The Taliban has been resurgent and expressing unprecedented bravado and daring due to inadequate Western troop levels in that region of the world. The collateral damage in international prestige is also another critical issue that Mr. Obama needs to fix. To do so, America needs to ensure the development of relatively sustainable governments in both countries – since they could pose a security threat with the passing of time in the shadow of Al Qaeda and Taliban footholds in the region. The prisoners of the “War on Terror” in the detention center in Guantanamo Bay may stand out as the most important issue for America’s redemption – though the “right and proper” answer remains an enigma to most analysts. Meanwhile the European Continent has its own problems, like the rise of the Russian Federation in European politics and the socioeconomic woes that plague the nations of the EU. Lastly, there are the matters of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nuclear nation of Iran and the rising Chinese dragon in the Far East. Troubles galore for Mr. Obama and his VP Joe Biden, the former chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Personally, I have always been skeptical about Mr. Obama’s chances for becoming President, much less making his first term any type of success. His slim lists of Presidential credentials are short and discouraging. But in the spirit of fairness, I think its necessary for Obama critics, like me, to grant a grace period to allow the newly elected President of the United States to demonstrate his qualities and progress on his campaign promises; the circumstances of the day make it impossible for anyone to take this office. However, this doesn’t mean that I will shrug my responsibilities as a journalist – as so many have already done in the euphoria of Mr. Obama’s successes – because it’s a matter of personal responsibility on my part to report all news stories related to the new President without bias and with critically objective eyes.

Based on the known facts, thus far, there are good reasons to be hopeful about a successful first term as well as doubtful about any notable progress on making good on the well-meaning campaign promises that have bombarded the airwaves during the two years of Mr. Obama’s Presidential campaign. As far as pros are concerned, there are four assets at Mr. Obama’s fingertips at the present: (1) his magical PR machine, (2) the seasoned members of his administration, (3) the tenuous Democratic majority in the House of Representative, and (4) the longer than most Presidential Honeymoon. On the other hand, there are many reasons to be doubtful: (1) Mr. Obama’s less than sterling track record as the Senator from Illinois, (2) Mr. Obama’s lack of notable lifetime achievements, (3) Mr. Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience, (4) Mr. Obama’s leadership skills with his “Team of Rivals” and Democrats from America’s recent past, and (5) the monumental odds stacked against any notable progress on both the domestic and foreign fronts.

I hope that President Obama will make a lasting imprint on history by being the first triumphant African-American President in the history of the American Republic; but I remain a misgiving critic and journalist based on the fact that few Presidents, if any, have been able to engineer a solution to the extreme challenges that our Commander-in-Chief faces today. History will not judge Barack Obama on the beauty or majesty of his oratory, but rather the observable and empirical achievements that he has yet to add to his already historical legacy.