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…And Now, Time to Fix the Domestic Economy

Posted by vmsalama on November 6, 2008

by Vivian Salama

PostGlobal – WashingtonPost.com


The last sip of celebratory champagne is now gone, and so, without a moment’s delay, it is imperative for President-elect Barack Obama to assemble a strong strategic transitional team that can work to heal the wounds of a disillusioned America. A carefully selected team must coordinate with the Bush administration in ensuring a smooth and effective handover. Traditionally the President-elect has stayed out of the spotlight in the two-and-a-half months prior to his inauguration. However, in the words of Senator Hillary Clinton, never have we had as “lame duck” a president as George W. Bush.

obamaPresident-elect Obama was the clear choice for triggering the shockwave needed at a time when America has few friends abroad and domestic confidence in government is at an all-time low. While people around the world continue to celebrate the clear and momentous significance the victory of Barack Obama signifies in our world’s history, we mustn’t forget that there is a crisis at hand that catchy slogans and smooth-talking rhetoric can not and will not solve. His administration should act quickly in order to capitalize on the momentum of this historic victory.

Where I sit in Dubai, the excitement surrounding a Barack Obama victory is palpable — and the same holds true for the entire region. This election meant so much to so many people around the world for several reasons. People in much of the Middle East have lived the last eight years fearful that one wrong word could bring American warplanes calling.

However, confident markets like Dubai’s and bullish markets like that of Egypt found themselves in a nosedive with news that Wall Street was losing steam. Repairing America’s reputation globally must start with an immediate — and non-partisan — fix to the domestic economy. A distracted and bitterly divided Washington ignored several issues surrounding Congress’s $700 billion bailout package. Financial institutions receiving government support are suspected, in some cases, of having used the capital for other purposes. If the government is going to alter its role by nationalizing banks, then those banks should be susceptible to a stringent checks and balances system. President-elect Obama has not a moment to spare if he and his administration, wish to avoid catastrophe and earn the trust and respect of Americans, their colleagues in Washington, and citizens of the world.

He must also consider certain long-overdue ways of trimming costs, such as closing Guantanamo Bay and cutbacks of any and all unnecessary expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan (so long as they do not compromise the security of American troops or the inhabitants of both countries).

The elections are over — now it is time to get to work.

It may sound cliché to link this historic event to the American dream — but then, many called the candidacy of the junior senator from Illinois just that; a dream and nothing more. As an American-born child of immigrants, I have seen marginalization, and I have felt cynical that the country to which my parents have given so much would not give back in the same way. The last eight years have been tainted by disappointment, fear and disenfranchisement. It is time for change in the most radical of ways. Many believe that if Obama can win the presidency, then anything is possible. Barack Obama has captured the support and admiration of millions around the world. The hard part now is deciding how to maintain it. The road to financial recovery is one that is long and grueling. However, if he can pave it smoothly and quickly, I reckon that people around the world will readily follow. 


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