Not So Great Expectations

The cranks, the crazies and dreamers ought to leave Obama alone and let the man do his job.

Photo by Getty Images

It's been amusing but not necessarily edifying, to watch Barack Obama's foes and friends attempt to define his presidency before he has even been sworn in.

Right-wing commentators reassure themselves that his victory somehow confirms that the U.S. remains a "center-right nation." Their counterparts on the left debate whether he should model himself more on Franklin Roosevelt than on Lincoln—or vice versa. 

Some have even already predicted that he will be only a one-term president.

It's time for all the prognosticators to shut up, and let the man do his job.

He's already defining himself. And he is already taking charge.

The economic team he is putting in place is a good example.

As he demonstrated during his campaign, Obama is a one-of-a-kind political leader confronting a unique political challenge. Trying to fit him into established paradigms obscures our understanding of the task that confronts him. We need to see both the man and the situation anew, guided by history but not shackled by it. 

This is not our daddy's mess or our grand-daddy's mess. It's ours.

The truth is that Obama is going to have to feel his way through the mess woven by George W. Bush's inept regime. Neither the New Deal nor supply-side economics offers a roadmap.

The best Obama can do is ignore ideology and try various approaches until he finds ones that work. He seems to know that. That's why he stands a good chance of confounding critics who are already trying to put him in a box.