The interview with President-elect Obama and his wife on 60 minutes, was very interesting. He talked about the importance of the free market system, and as best as I can recollect, he didn't even give a hint of turning America into a socialist state. So much for campaign rhetoric, and right wing paranoia. He seems remarkably poised and balanced, qualities which he will need during what will be a very stressful presidency. He will also need these qualities to deal with the near messianic expectations that more than a few people have formed of him. The picture of him as the new FDR gives evidence of these overzealous expectations.
The most important thing that Obama can do is restore some sense of hope in the country. The performance of the stock market, and the unwillingness of financial institutions to loan money even after they were given billions of dollars by the government, are both strong evidence of the sense of absence of hope and presence of despair. At the present time the country is devoid of any leadership, as President Bush has gone missing, and Secretary of the treasury Paulson appears to be the leader of the country. How important is hope? Ronald Reagan understood the need for people to feel good about themselves and their country, and that better times lie ahead. Businesses are composed of people, and therefore have the same need.
He must provide strong leadership, because even the best of economic recovery plans will not work unless they are fully implemented, and the people of this country believe that they will work. When the giant banks of this country are given tens of billions of dollars and still do not lend money, but contemplate large bonuses for their staffs, there is a need for a leader who will send a quick direct message telling them what they need to do.
Obama's willingness to form a diverse Cabinet with people who don't completely share his vision is evidence of a man with a strong ego. A strong ego should not be confused with a big one. A person with a strong ego is able to tolerate differences of opinion, and even learn from them. We have had few presidents with strong egos in recent decades. The interview with the heads of his campaign gave a prescient insight into his leadership style. He wants to surround himself with strong and capable people who can carry out their mission with a minimum of guidance.
Lastly, Obama consistently points out that the task ahead of us cannot be accomplished by one person. There is no one human being who can carry the country on his or her back.