Perhaps to the consternation to those who routintely defend me in the comments section, I had thought to refrain from criticizing the president-elect in the penultimate week (i.e., from January 6-13) of his tenure with that title.Â After all, quite frequently in the two months since his election, I have found myself pleasantly surprised by his actions and even his rhetoric.
The two major mistakes he has made in putting together his Administration (failure to fully vet BIll Richardson and to consult Senate leaders on Leon Panetta) stand out in a largely smooth selection process where (with three significant exceptions), he has tapped a number of very competent (and mostly centrist) officials to serve on his team.
But, it’s more than just that.Â Despite a rhetorically banal and occasionally self-serving victory speech on election night, Barack Obama has, in the transition process, shown that he intends to govern as the president of all Americans.Â I don’t recall having a similar sense sixteen years ago when Bill Clinton was assembling his team.
He is meeting today with Republicans today on Capitol Hill. He has been careful not to say anything which might undermine the incumbent Administration as it responds to crises abroad.Â He has risked offending his base by including a respected evangelical pastor in his inaugural ceremony.
To be sure, he has shown some flaws as president-elect which could prove weaknesses once he takes office.Â He often comes across as aloof in his press conferences, often dodges tough questions and save the choice of Rick Warren to offer the invocation on January 20, has refrained from making difficult decisions.Â That said, these flaws do not include a quality which marks many of his followers and supporters (and even the most recent Democratic president), a tendency to engage in petty partisanship.
I still have my concerns about Barack Obama and I dare say I won’t refrain from criticizing him for a full week, but I will say that his performance this past two months has allayed some of my fears about his ability to lead.Â He has still left many questions unanswered about how he intends to govern, but, if the past two months have shown us anything, it is that Obama does see himself as president of all Americans.
And that gives me some hope that he might just be able to unite our nation and lead us through difficult times.