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The Civic Sentinel Your Move, Mr. President
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I come not to praise this election, but to bury it. Thank heavens the circus has finally left town. As we sweep up the confetti and the discarded party hats, our minds and bodies battered and weary from a long and bloody fight, we collectively take our first unflinching look at our new President.

Those on the left hail the coming of a newly anointed Democratic paragon; one more capable and confident than any since JFK. Those on the right bemoan a national shift toward proto-socialist policies that will further depress the economy and chip away at the American Dream.

Both sides are partially correct.

Barack Obama is indeed a verbal magician; the ostentatious flourishes and anecdotal grandeur of his speech-craft rival any who have ever stood behind a podium. His campaign was masterful, coupling a tenacious and well executed grass-roots effort with the agility to avoid being tied to policy specifics or dubious associations. His message was simple but powerful, 'hope and change,' at a time when our nation is in dire need of both. It is easy to see why the Democrats are energized, and Obama's political proficiency cannot be impugned.


Obama ran on an anti-war ticket. No one on his campaign anticipated the overwhelming successes we've seen in Iraq since last summer. During the primaries, Obama promised a 16-month timeline for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Now that both the Bush administration and the Maliki government have proposed similar strategies, Obama's promise is far less potent than it was last year.

Instead of the war, Obama's central rival is a floundering economy - again, something no one on his campaign predicted early on. While hope and change are wonderful words to use when taking an anti-war position, such expressions have little effect on collapsing credit markets. Faced with economic downturns, the Obama presidency simply will not have the money to pursue the broad and sweeping social reforms previously promised. Instead, they will be forced to delay, or perhaps abandon, the oft-discussed tax increase on the top 5 percent. To initiate this tax increase could prove to be the final straw on our struggling economy, leading to a meltdown that would grievously injure the new administration at the outset. My prediction is that Obama is savvy enough to know this, and will act accordingly, moving towards the center in his economic policies.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have picked up several seats in Congress, providing them with a comfortable majority. Both Pelosi and Reid have begun to whisper about applying the $800 billion in bailout funds to prop up the floundering auto industry. In this, Pelosi may actually turn out to be more of a rival than an ally to the new President, since her movement left is taking place at exactly the time when Obama is compelled to move towards the center.

Obama steps into the Oval Office on January 20th, and until that day he must ponder his opening gambit. Will he move to satisfy his liberal base or the popular majority? To slake the thirst of the far left, he must embrace the nationalization agenda of Pelosi and Reid. However, America is still a center-right country, and a step slightly toward center will do much both to suture the wounds of our hemorrhaging economy, and to appease the baying hounds on the far right.

If Obama is as intelligent as he seems - and he seems extremely intelligent - the hair-pulling tantrums and gloomy countenances on the right may prove to be unwarranted overreactions.

Jubal McMillan is an Escalon businessman, Video Xtreme, and contributes a monthly column for The Times. He can be reached via email at