Magazine article Newsweek

The Editor's Desk

Magazine article Newsweek

The Editor's Desk

Article excerpt

Byline: Jon Meacham

Barack 0bama sees the world more or less as it is, and seems less susceptible to self-deception and self-delusion than most of us. With the possible exception of genuine saints, everyone is the star of the movie that plays in their heads, and the Obama story is thus far a heroic tale of a bright and blessed man who has defied history in order to make history. It would take a very cool man indeed not to have his head turned and his personality warped by the adulation he has garnered and the hopes he has inspired. In a series of behind-the-scenes photographs, Charles Ommanney captures the intimate moments of Inauguration Day, and while there were very few Americans who were not moved by Obama's swearing-in, Allison Samuels, Ellis Cose and Raina Kelley write about the especially profound and complicated impact of the moment on people of color.

Yet Obama, to echo George H.W. Bush's 1988 acceptance speech, is that man--cool, sober, reflective and pragmatic. Far from believing himself immune to the vagaries of politics and the exigencies of the moment, the 44th president of the United States has taken care to strike cautionary notes in his major addresses, from Grant Park to the inaugural. "Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real," he said on the steps of the Capitol. "They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time."

If it endures, such humility is likely to serve the president well in light of the scale--the growing scale--of the problems confronting us. In a series of essays by Fareed Zakaria, Daniel Gross, Robert J. Samuelson and Zachary Karabell in this week's cover package, we argue that the crises at hand have markedly worsened during the transition. Dan writes about what he calls "The Quitter Economy": "Companies, homeowners and money managers willing to quit rather than fight is both a symptom of the nation's deep economic woes and emblematic of the challenge the Obama administration faces," Dan writes. …

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