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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Frederick's Up and Coming

J. Burke Miller Bio

Welcome to day 1, Mr. President

January 21, 2009 – Day 1 of 100: As the streets of DC are swept and the platforms, seats and stages are all broken down; as the black tie affairs come to an end and the millions of out-of-towners head back to their homes, Washingtonians will head back to their jobs after the long, celebratory weekend. As most return to the Washington jobs they left on Friday, President Barack Obama and his modern-day Team of Rivals begin new ones tasked with fixing our country's seemingly downward path.

With all of the excitement generated around the election and the Inauguration, it is sobering to consider the laundry list of problems that the new administration will inherit: two wars, a fledgling economy, heightened tension in Gaza, a disappearing act by American industry, a bitterly partisan nation, and more. Now, it is not that I am skeptical of President Obama's message of "hope" but I am admittedly unnerved by the electorate's expectations of an immediate delivery of the promised "change."

Prior to President Obama's Inaugural Address, I was sure that he needed to use his captivity of the world's attention to temper expectations by saying, "If our plans fall short, that does not mean we did not all succeed." Instead, President Obama used his first few moments as #44 to continuously reaffirm the world's nearly impossibly high expectations. My first thought: "What is he thinking?!"

Although the first 100 days of a new administration will not provide a permanent brand of successful or unsuccessful, they will certainly set the tone for the remainder of the term.

Will early successes provide Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel with the clout necessary to easily accumulate support on Capitol Hill? Will the administration be able to follow through on promises made concerning Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay to a level that allows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to rebuild America's reputation abroad? Will reversals of Bush policies like the Mexico City abortion policy immediately eliminate the necessary bipartisan goodwill needed to truly unite Washington under a banner of "progress?"

Evidence from Obama's campaign and from his transition team suggests that the new administration will continue to use calculated actions to expeditiously dispose of road blocks en route to a better America. Still, it seems as though the American people expect the new administration to judiciously answer each of these questions without faltering – even once.

I am nervous as to how the world will react the first time President Obama comes up short because with such expectations, this is not a "shoot for the moon and even if you fall short you land among the stars" moment. It may only take one blemish to ruin the impeccable record that so many Obama skeptics have been so weary of trusting and these are the dangers of such records in a business where perception is reality.

One source of criticism that is often over-looked is President Obama's faithful supporters. How will the Democratic Party react when the Obama administration begins to compromise major planks from their agenda? To be honest, I do not believe it will be long before we find the answer to this question. After all, Obama's Inaugural Address has confirmed (to me, at least) that he was not simply using a break from standard Washington politics as a campaign ploy; instead, he expanded upon that theory.

Yesterday's address was a very bold move by the new President of the United States and while my initial reaction was shock, my ultimate reaction follows the same emotions I felt during his campaign: awe and inspiration. Ultimately, it was a hopeful moment for those Americans that are placing the welfare of their country firmly in front of the welfare of their respective political parties and allegiances.


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