The Wish List: What Pundits Hope From Obama

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Despite all the discussion of crowds and speeches on cable TV this morning, the talking heads haven't been able to ignore the fact that after all the pomp and celebration of the inauguration is over, President Obama and the nation he leads still face a soul-crushing list of problems and struggles. But whatever horrible things the future holds, it's hard to not get caught up in the historic and inspiring events unfolding today. This is a fresh start, a new beginning, and everyone has something to hope for from our new president. For some, it's simply that he'll be the best one ever. No pressure.

• Eugene Robinson says Obama's inauguration "does not magically eliminate racial disparities in income or wealth; it does not fix inner-city schools, repair crumbling neighborhoods or heal dysfunctional families." But psychologically, the impact is huge for black Americans, obliterating "any logic behind self-imposed limits on imagination and ambition." [WP]

• Noam Scheiber looks forward to Obama's "broader cultural impact." Obama could have "significant and long-lasting" effects on the black community. [Plank/New Republic]

• Courtney E. Martin says Obama's presidency will not be the end of racism, war, or "politics as usual." But it's the beginning of a "more engaged, more hopeful citizenry" that isn't treated by its leaders like a "300-million-person focus group." [American Prospect]

• David Brooks hopes Obama, who "exemplifies discipline, equipoise and self-control," can "translate the social repair that has occurred over the past decade into political and governing repair" and finally end the ideological politics of the "Great Disruption." [NYT]

• Chris Cillizza believes the crises we face as a country represent "the greatest political opportunity any president has had to fundamentally reshape the country at home and abroad in modern history," because Obama understands that crisis "calls for great action, sweeping, elemental changes that in times of less turmoil would never pass muster." [Fix/WP]

• Ezra Klein says Obama's task is to "recast governance much as he recast politics," so that "governance can feel again like it works on behalf of the public, like it takes seriously their concerns and works daily to meet their expectations." [American Prospect]

• Barton Gellman says Obama has "a realistic prospect of joining the ranks of history's most powerful presidents," not only because of the power derived from emergencies, but also due to Obama's "rare convergence of additional strengths, some of them inherited and some of his own making." [WP]

• Mario Cuomo writes that Obama's "success could help lead our great nation and this entire threatened world into a new period of enlightenment and progress." [Newsday]

• John Barry suggests that instead of seeking vengeance on the Bush administration through investigations, Obama should "figure out how to prevent, as best we can, the grislier parts of this debacle from happening again." [Newsweek]

• Gabriel Schoenfeld hopes Obama continues to build bridges with neoconservatives on issues like immigration, Afghanistan, Gaza, and personal accountability in general. [WSJ]

• Jennifer Rubin is more anxious than awestruck. She wonders whether Obama will "be a sane moderate, immune to the clarion calls of the liberal extremists in the Congress," "tough and definitive enough in foreign affairs to bolster our allies and dissuade our foes," and aware that "with each expansion of federal power comes not just new financial burdens, but a bevy of opportunities for corruption and the inexorable law of unintended consequences." [Contentions/Commentary]

• Rich Lowry says the supremely confident Obama "must resist hubris." [National Review]