What an experience in history. The presidential inauguration of Barack Obama was truly one of the defining moments of our time. It represented change and hope, and it somberly reminded us of the crises we are experiencing as a nation.
Today begins the era of Obama. You couldn't have imagined the millions of people from around the world who descended upon our nation's capital Tuesday to witness and participate in this momentous occasion.
I interacted with people from all walks of life and listened to them communicate their hope for our new president.
Some of the reactions I heard included: "I hope he's the medicine America needs." "He is our Abraham Lincoln." "Our JFK." "He is something millions can believe in and look up to." "He is the American dream." "This is not an election of the USA, but an election of the entire world. Obama's win will bring the entire world together."
During this time of crisis, with so much hope invested in Mr. Obama, my question is: Will he be able to deliver on that hope? Rubin Drew, a 68-year-old D.C. native and a cabdriver for 32 years, said of Mr. Obama, "I wanted to see the brother do well. I want to be excited, but you've got to show me something."
In a similar vein, Rep. J. Gresham Barrett, South Carolina Republican, said, "We're light-years ahead of where we were, but we've got so far to go."
It's amazing to have a black president, but hopefully it will someday be more commonplace. However, irrespective of his hue or the hope he has given the American people, the president has to face up to real issues at home and abroad.
We are in a time of unprecedented crisis, both nationally and internationally. We are experiencing the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression and are at war with stateless terrorists who want to destroy everything we stand for.
Given this unprecedented and highly volatile environment, Mr. Obama must, in his first 90 days, do the following:
• Force banks - through legislation or through his bully pulpit - to spend the money given to them by the government through the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to alleviate the credit crisis.
• Use the $800 billion stimulus to rebuild infrastructure and create jobs instead of allowing it to feed more pork-barrel spending.
• Find a way to ease the foreclosure crisis and find ways to stop the continuing decline in the values of people's homes.