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Friday, June 21, 2024

Less than a week after Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, Barack Obama will take an oath for the highest office in the land. He will do so surrounded by family and friends, members of our government and anywhere from 3 million to 5 million onlookers - all bystanders to one of history's momentous junctures.

With a financial crisis rivaling the Great Depression and constant bloodshed looming overhead, President-elect Obama will face enormous challenges in the next four years, all with global ramifications.

Obama, who will take his oath of office on the same bible Abraham Lincoln used to affirm our nation's 16th presidency, should remember one of Lincoln's better-known axioms: "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me."

Certainly, President George W. Bush knows this all too well, having spent the last week in a media circus seeking to shore up his image as the Commander in Chief who comforted the nation atop smoldering rubble in downtown Manhattan on Sept. 14, 2001. It's by far a better image than that of the arrogant and aloof "decider" who cavalierly admitted that maybe invading Iraq wasn't such a "great decision."

Undoubtedly, the decisions and non-decisions of the Bush administration will severely restrain the new president and his circle of advisors and, unfortunately, will also restrain our nation for years to come. In a sensationalized 24-hour news cycle, there's little chance that Obama will be given a longer honeymoon to sort through the Bush administration's mess, as is typical for most new presidents.

Already, CNN demands to know the breed of the next First Puppy.

While it may seem that Washington cannot afford to give Obama and team a free pass from political squabbling, I can only hope that we give Obama - the ultimate zeitgeist - a welcoming respite from the demagoguery of partisanship in the form of spirited cooperation.

No matter if his first decisions are of the supposed liberal fashion, such as issuing an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay, or the perceived conservative notion of supporting the death penalty in cases of child rape.

Obama is now faced with the task of seeking peace in a time of international contention, perpetuating hope and a promise of positive change in this unusually frigid winter of alarm and anxiety. Yet for the first time in seven years, Americans should realize that our destiny is not predetermined or at the will of fanatical terrorists and unapologetic Wall Street magicians.

Americans have been yearning for change, a craving the savvy new president realized early on in his campaign for this extraordinary but solemn office.

Yet Obama's promise to change the ways of Washington and usher in a new era of governing is not a new promise from a political standpoint. It is merely a deposit for any political campaign. The true test is whether Washington, D.C., will fall back into the rut of partisanship and cynicism during this crucial time in American history instead of trusting the man whom so many have entrusted their future to.

So help us God.

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Matthew Christ is a political science freshman.

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