Not a whole lot has been said about the machine behind Barack Obama and the unprecedented amount of cooperation and planning that has gone on behind the scenes to prepare our soon to be 44th President to take over the reins at the White House. Without the work of former Bill Clinton Chief of Staff, John Podesta to work with the Bush team to set the stage for the Obama administration, it is likely that Obama's movements of the last week would have been awkward to say the least.
Just consider the number of items that have been addressed within one week of the election and the style of how they have occurred:
1) Barack Obama named Rahm Emanual, his WH Chief of Staff.
2) Barack Obama's transition team has been vetting cabinet members, but has been careful about leaks.
3) A website has been set up for the transition period.
4) Barack and Michelle Obama have visited the White House and were welcomed by the Bushes.
5) President-Elect Obama has balanced respecting the sitting President's authority with his own agenda to offer a stimulus package to taxpayers, to reverse Executive Orders, and to address the War in Iraq.
6) Valerie Jarrett's name has been floated to replace Barack Obama in the Senate.
This shows an ability to use political capital and to let the American people know that he is ready to lead, but is willing to wait his turn. The question will be where does he lead us when he steps in?
Clearly with an economy in free fall, his attention will be spent on this albatross and will make other domestic policy decisions more difficult to invoke. However, when the economy turns around, it should allow Team Obama to push through comprehensive Health Care policy and other plans that will not be inexpensive to implement, though are designed to be paid for through other cuts. I doubt we can expect major policy decisions to be enacted in the first 100 days or even the first two years of his administration. Still any legislation that boosts industrial infrastructure to create jobs will be much easier to sell than another large "welfare" federal program.
Secondly, with the Iraqi's now equivocating about our presence in their country, there will have to be careful deliberations about how best to end the war there. It will take the cooperation of the world community to perhaps step in for the peace keeping efforts there and foreign aid from us to make it happen. The larger issue for Obama will be to defend his decision to "surge" in Afghanistan given that his base may be disappointed and angered by what they see as a "politics as usual" approach to a foreign conflict.
If the Democrats are smart, they will put aside the temptation to pass partisan bills and focus on the big picture. If the country is not moving in a good direction by 2010, there will be upheaval again in Congress and this time it will be the Democrats who are kicked to the curb. The Congress should take a page from the calm, reserve of their newly elected leader and move with purpose to enact infrastructure building legislation that will generate the new jobs that Americans need and deserve, should continue to support veterans and their families as an end to war is negotiated, and push back on Obama if his plans for Afghanistan do not have a clear mission.