On Tuesday, America can take pride in a special transfer of power as Barack Obama becomes the first African-American to be sworn in as president.
Shortly after the ceremony, the new president’s aides will slip away to inspect the offices they now inhabit. They’ve put much of their lives on hold to take jobs that will last, for most, two or three years. Hours will be long, pressure unrelenting, decisions momentous, and families often neglected. Every American should respect their sacrifices.
By Karl Rove
The Wall Street Journal
What these aides will soon realize is that they aren’t history, but passing through it. I learned that from an elderly man who told me “to honor the house” as he emptied my trash bin late my first day at work.
That is what an administration owes the country. But it is not all it owes. There is also the matter of governing. Team Obama is about to learn that it’s easier to campaign than to govern.
In fact, they are already learning it. Last February, Congress passed a stimulus bill, adding $152 billion to the deficit. Mr. Obama called it “deficit spending” and criticized the “disdain for pay-as-you-go budgeting” in Washington. Now he forecasts trillion dollar deficits on his watch. Mr. Obama, the candidate, criticized the “careless and incompetent execution” of the Iraq war. But as president-elect, he decided to retain George W. Bush’s defense secretary and put a Bush adviser in charge of the National Security Council.
More significantly, Team Obama is stumbling on its biggest priority — an economic stimulus package. One stutter step came when Mr. Obama said he looked forward to signing a stimulus bill on Jan. 20 and then failed to lay out a proposal by mid-December so Congress could chew it over. That led House Appropriations Chairman David Obey to carp that “We’ve got to have some signals called by Obama . . . it’s hard to negotiate” when Team Obama “hasn’t decided what they want.”
Mr. Obama also tripped himself up by sending advisers to Capitol Hill on Dec. 18 to say that he wanted a stimulus bill to cost between $670 billion and $770 billion, but that he would accept $850 billion. This invited Congress to roll him and spend more. Now he may see not only his number shredded but the elements of his package as well.
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