Obama: golden prospects, dark era

President-elect Barack Obama's detractors have envisioned his presidency as one in which he will grant Bill Ayers a cabinet post, be utterly befuddled by a phone call at 3 a.m., and be revealed as a secret terrorist during the State of the Union.

These characterizations are far from the truth but, at the same time, Obama has not yet earned the accolades that the press and public have been quick to adorn him with. His election may be historic, but at this time, his presidency is merely something we can muse about.

Undoubtedly, the Obama administration will look nothing like its predecessor. For starters, Obama's cautious and thoughtful decision-making process is in sharp contrast to President Bush's modus operandi of shooting from the hip and asking questions later, if at all.

Obama's approach was evident during the peak of the economic crisis. While Sen. McCain was suspending his campaign and muddling about without a plan, Obama remained calm and met with advisors in private to appropriately address the situation. This cool, collected approach has always been Obama's style - whether in answering a question in a debate or ordering his lunch - and it will help the future president make the right choices for the country.

But merely knowing the right thing to do is only half the battle, which is why it is important that Obama surround himself with people who will allow him to successfully implement his decisions.

For that reason, the choice of Congressman Rahm Emmanuel as chief of staff was an excellent first step for Obama. A skilled politician and administrator, Emmanuel, with his notoriously sharp elbows, will play the bad cop to Obama's good cop, steering the White House where the president wants the country to go while giving him the political cover to remain above the fray.

Obama will enter the White House during a time of great crisis, but according to Emmanuel, it should afford him the opportunity "to do big things." And although Obama has admitted his administration may experience "setbacks and false starts," he has been given such a mandate from the American people that he can afford to try again and again. Change will come at a cost, and right now Obama has plenty of political capital to spend.

The tools are definitely in place for Obama to be a historic president. At the same time, he could be as forgettable as President Carter whose ascension to the White House was similar in many ways to Obama's journey. Working in Obama's favor, though, is the fact that he understands Washington politics and that his Democratic Congress will probably be much less combative than the one Carter faced.

Though Obama may be qualified and have a plan for success, life is rarely so simple as to allow anyone, let alone a mere Lamron columnist, the ability to say that everything will be OK. When our current president went into office, he planned to be a "uniter" and promised no nation-building, but by the end of his tenure he's only united the country in displeasure and proven why nation-building should be avoided: because the plans of presidents, like those of mice and men, often go awry.

Dave Lombardo is a senior political science major who's found he suddenly has a lot more time on his hands post-election.

In