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Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, Germany

Exorbitant Hope —
Obama as Crisis Manager

By Markus Günther

Obama, the divine, faith healer-–the joke only touches the surface of what is actually there: unrealistic expectations and exorbitant hopes.

Translated By Jacqueline Audet

10 February 2009

Germany - Mitteldeutsche Zeitung - Original Article (German)

This joke arose during the days of Barack Obama’s inauguration as U.S. President: “What will Obama do once he has been sworn in? In the first six days, he will solve the problems in America and around the world. On the seventh day, he will rest.” Obama, the divine, faith healer-–the joke only touches the surface of what is actually there: unrealistic expectations and exorbitant hopes. Although the first weeks in office, the first setbacks, mistakes and disappointments of the Obama era should have shown even the most exuberant fan that Obama is only human, too.

Of course the prolonged enthusiasm is understandable. The spirit of optimism that Obama initiated has gone around the world; his message of hope and a fresh start, his own ascent has inspired and encouraged millions. He walked onto the political stage at a time when the public had been waiting so long for a hero, a savior. Obama encourages, and that is a good thing.

But sometimes global tears of happiness blur the clear view. Obama is going about it energetically, so much is true. But more and more from day to day, he is faced with gigantic problems. His vision of a new, more just America is fading into the distance; his room for maneuvering is more restricted than he expected and it is narrowing itself down even more. The fresh start is being overshadowed by the monstrous economic crisis.

The crisis shows that even the most powerful man in the world cannot simply arrange the course of events in his interests and that that is why messianic expectations of healing, which are being projected onto a politician, are so dangerous. The U.S. president himself is often only a game ball of history, more so one who is being driven instead of one who is driving. Obama started as a visionary and a reformer; but now he is a crisis manager in a national state of emergency.

There is one very practical reason why the crisis is bringing Obama distress: it is forcing him to hand out money that isn’t even there and to bet like a gambler on a rapid economic recovery. The gigantic stimulus package, which Obama is pushing through the official channels with all his might, does not correspond to his political beliefs or to the financial possibilities of the debt-ridden USA. It is a desperate rescue attempt. Obama is also using exactly those financial possibilities, which he needs for other large reform projects. Even if the bill works out and the economy starts up again, the new debts will overshadow the Obama presidency.

Is the stimulus package right? Does Obama stand the test as crisis manager? How much do the mishaps outweigh the appointment of his minister? Much of this will first become apparent in retrospect as good or bad. In the meantime, Obama deserves a sober escort. But for a veneration of saints and blind approval, there should also be no room in politics to follow a politician’s doings with sympathy.



One Comment So Far



One Response to “Exorbitant Hope —
Obama as Crisis Manager”

  1.  Vote: Add rating 0  Subtract rating 0   researcher Says:

    very inter­est­ing article.

    but you left one thing out.

    this great debt was caused by three main factors.

    huge debt for mil­i­tary war and spy machine that con­tin­ues and may increase. amer­i­can now spends more on its war machine than all other indus­tri­al­ized nations.

    priv­i­tized health care that is bank­rupt­ing many amer­i­cans. dr’s get­ting rich mega rich and insur­ance com­pa­nies but it is destroy­ing the wealth of the mid­dle class.

    the dereg­u­la­tion of amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions which has cre­ated corp fas­cism in america.

    ok four main rea­sons: a wash that no longer rep­re­sents the peo­ple but its lob­by­ists. corp fas­cism is alive and well in america.

    obama sold amer­i­cans hope and it got him elected but it is we amer­i­cans that must change.

    greed and arro­gance change only as a last resort first we will try some hope and see how far that takes us.

    amer­ica is in a rapid decline and few in the world under­stand that espe­cially we americans.

    we are try­ing to spend more than we make to fix a prob­lem that was caused by spend­ing more than we make. like throw­ing gaso­line on a fire to put it out.

    econ­mics 101 should have taught us that but our econ phd’s must have skipped econ 101 and instead went for their far fetched the­o­rys that win them awards and get them pub­lished and give them tenure at the university.

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