The media are treating him as some God-like figure who can do no wrong. We all know that the media loves to build people up so they can knock them down again, and Obama will be no different. He takes office at a time where the world looks more unstable than at any time since the end of the Second World War. The world banking system lies in tatters, the terror threat is ever present and America's reputation in the world is at an all time low.
The euphoria surrounding his inauguration feels like the optimism felt by much of the United Kingdom when Tony Blair took office. Even many Conservatives were swept along by the feeling that a new age had indeed dawned. And therein lies a lesson for the Obama administration. Tony Blair rode the crest of a wave of popularity for his entire first term. He could have done anything and got away with it - he could even have joined the euro. But instead he did very little and achieved very little. Obama's first hundred days and first year in office will be crucial. He needs to hit the ground running and enact some real changes immediately. He can do it because he has the congressional backing. If I were him I would issue a presidential order to close Guantanamo within hours of taking office. That would signal real change which people could believe in. If he sits back on his laurels and gives the appearance of believing that just getting elected was achievement enough, he will be letting down an awful lot of people, not least those of us who supported him against all our tribal political instincts.
Many people have a lot of hopes for the Obama administration, but there are an awful lot of fears as well. Here are a few of my own...
I hope Barack Obama will...
- Issue an order to close Guantanamo within hours of taking office
- Make clear he runs US foreign policy, not Hillary Clinton
- Within a month, launch a meaningful middle east peace initiative
- Send the necessary troops to Afghanistan
- Realise that you can't spend your way out of a recession
I fear Barack Obama will...
- Have his presidency dogged by a lengthy economic slump
- Not live up to expectations
- Waste his first term by being short termist
- Expand Bush's policy of increasing the size of government
- Be assassinated
That's the great unspoken fear of us all. Because if the worst were to happen one can only imagine the consequences for America. But on this day of all days let's dwell on the optimism that Obama engenders, even in his opponents. We should all wish him well, for if his Presidency is a success, it can only mean good things for us and the wider world.