What should Obama do first?
A poll published over the weekend by The New York Times shows a remarkable 79 percent of Americans are optimistic about Barack Obama's presidency, significantly higher than the figures recorded at this time for presidents (G.W.) Bush, Clinton, (G.H.W.) Bush or Reagan. The poll found that people believe the nation has monumental challenges but are willing to give the president elect some time to deal with them:
Most Americans said they did not expect real progress in improving the economy, reforming the health care system or ending the war in Iraq — three of the central promises of Mr. Obama’s campaign — for at least two years. The poll found that two-thirds of respondents think the recession will last two years or longer.
But it looks like Obama doesn't intend to take his time. He's been moving quickly with his transition, and news reports say he intends to head to the White House this afternoon -- perhaps even before checking out the inaugural parade -- to get some work done.
What should be the first order of business? He's got a shaky cease fire to deal with between Israel and Hamas. Many of his liberal supporters are looking for a quick, clean break from the Bush administration in the form of executive orders restricting interrogation techniques, closing Guantanamo, undoing restrictions on family planning and stem cell research, etc. And there's the economy to deal with. Should he focus on spending or tax cuts? Should he bail out states (Maryland included) that are struggling to balance their budgets?