Obama Acting Increasingly Presidential

Article excerpt

At a time when millions of worried Americans are looking to Washington for economic and political leadership, President-elect Obama appears to be acting more presidential and less "-elect" by the day.

As he unveiled his team of economic advisers Monday, Mr. Obama emphasized that action to try to stimulate the economy is coming. While he remained deferential to the current administration, he said he wanted to hit the ground running and in general conveyed an air of imminent control over ongoing US financial-rescue efforts.

Obama seems to recognize the obvious: The state of the US economy - indeed, the world economy - is so fragile that repair efforts will dominate his initial years in office. His success or failure could well end up defining his entire White House term.

"That work starts today. The truth is, we don't have a minute to waste," said Obama at his economic personnel announcement.

The US has only one president at a time. Obama does not yet have his hands on any of the US government's levers of power. But given the evident efficiency so far of his transition efforts, and the fact that the next Congress will be firmly in Democratic control, it is reasonable for him to emphasize his own policy proposals to fill a perceived power vacuum in the nation's capital, says Stephen Hess, a Brookings Institution scholar and author of "What Do We Do Now?," a just-published book on presidential transitions.

"The promise of him getting a very fast start is very real," says Mr. Hess.

As he rolled out his new team for the cameras, Obama emphasized one aspect of each one's resume, perhaps as an attempt to portray them as complementary parts of a whole.

As expected, President-elect Obama announced that he has picked New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner as his nominee to be the next Secretary of the Treasury.

While Mr. Geithner is a veteran of financial crises, Obama talked of Geithner's international experience, pointing out that the New York Fed president lived in Africa as a child and has lived and worked throughout Asia.

"The reality is that the economic crisis we face is no longer just an American crisis, it is a global crisis, and we will need to reach out to countries around the world to craft a global response," said Obama. …