Commentary: A proud day in US history

January 20, 2009 

This editorial appeared in The Kansas City Star.

Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony today is wreathed in superlatives.

The crowd is expected to be the most massive inaugural gathering ever. The security force of 40,000 will be the biggest ever assembled in the nation’s capital. A supplier of portable toilets predicts "the largest temporary restroom event in the history of the United States."

Expectations for Obama's presidency are also running high. Nearly 70 percent of people in a New York Times/CBS News poll released this weekend said they thought he would be a good or a very good leader.

But they are wisely tempering their hopes with an acknowledgment that the nation's 44th president is inheriting problems on a grand scale.

The poll showed that most people are willing to give the new administration as long as two years to improve the economy, reform health care and end the war in Iraq.

That may be too generous a window. The nation particularly needs to see signs of an economic recovery much sooner than 24 months from now. The recession has hit the country hard, and many people face serious hardships.

To his credit, Obama seems prepared to act quickly.

About 20 aides have been cleared to enter the White House immediately after the swearing-in ceremony so they can get to work. The entire economic team is scheduled to meet Wednesday to work on a stimulus package.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Kansas City Star.

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