President-elect Barack Obama, relatively young and inexperienced, is facing a rapidly growing list of monumental challenges as he prepares to take the reins of a nation in turmoil.
“I do not underestimate the enormity of the task that lies ahead,” Obama said after his historic election a little more than a month ago.
It was a sobering assessment at the time, but the country’s problems have only worsened since then. Now, Obama sounds dire, particularly as he talks about the economy: “We’re in an emergency.”
He spoke during a week in which Congress killed a bailout of the failing auto industry, the government reported that jobless claims spiked to their highest levels in more than a quarter-century, and the Treasury Department said the nation registered a record federal budget deficit for November.
By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer
President-elect Barack Obama gestures during a news conference in Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008. Obama, relatively young and inexperienced, is facing a rapidly growing list of monumental challenges as he prepares to take the reins of a nation in turmoil.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
With woes foreign and domestic on more fronts than even Franklin Delano Roosevelt encountered when he took office in the midst of the Great Depression, Obama will be sworn in as the country’s 44th president in January.
His leadership will be tested immediately and in many ways. His performance from the outset could well set the tone for his presidency.
Not only is Obama saddled with lingering wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that he is inheriting from President George W. Bush, but he also must deal with:
-a deepening recession in the U.S. and a spreading global economic crisis.
-an automotive industry on the brink of collapse and soaring national debt.
-increasing unemployment and its ripple effects.
-the threat of terrorism amid a historic transfer of power.
At the same time, Obama may be drawn into an unfolding political scandal over Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich‘s alleged efforts to trade the president-elect’s former Senate seat for personal gain. The ongoing federal investigation could ensnare some of his top advisers and taint the self-styled reformer who has tried to steer clear of notorious Chicago politics.
The president-elect says he’s “absolutely confident” his aides did not try to cut deals with Blagojevich, but at the very least, the scandal is a distraction for a leader facing the magnitude of problems on Obama’s plate.