4:45 p.m. ET: So which of his predecessors did President Obama most resemble during his inaugural speech yesterday?
By this point we've heard more than enough of the comparisons between Obama and Abraham Lincoln -- tall skinny lawyers from Illinois, "Team of Rivals," okay, we get it. That's why Obama's decision to quote not Lincoln but rather the namesake for the other monument in his line of vision during the speech -- George Washington -- has gotten so much attention.
But Nate Silver makes a compelling case that, in both substance and circumstance, Obama's speech actually most brought to mind Franklin Roosevelt. It a) was delivered during a recession; b) painted a very bleak picture of where things stand; but c) made clear that our forefathers endured much worse and so the country will endure and prevail.
Which comparison do you think is most apt? Comment below.
8 a.m. ET: The people came, the new president spoke, everyone cheered (though Wall Street fell), the parade gave way to parties, the First Couple danced and the city survived. Today, there's a new administration. So, to quote another president, albeit a fictional one: "What's next?"
The first order of business might just be retaking the presidential oath. What seemed like a minor, though slightly embarrassing, stumble during Obama's exchange with John Roberts turns out to have been a fairly big deal if you're an adherent of that pesky constitution. Inauguration Day wouldn't be complete without a silly conspiracy theory, and this one suggests that Roberts flubbed the oath on purpose as revenge against Obama for opposing his nomination in the Senate. The Rundown actually believes two justices were in on the plot; Antonin Scalia was spotted on the grassy knoll.
Here on Planet Earth, Obama's real first task looks to be starting the process of closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and refashioning the entire detainee system. The quick move makes sense on two levels -- practically, it will be a long, difficult process and so needed to begin as early as possible; symbolically, it represents a clear break from the Bush administration's policies and a signal to the world that change has arrived.
Closer to home, the economy is obviously Job One, and provides a neat illustration of why most people don't actually want to be president. It looks like the new administration has no fast or easy answers to cure what ails the nation's banking system. Obama is considering a new bank rescue plan, perhaps one that could move with or soon after the economic stimulus package. That stimulus, by the way, could well bring hope to the people and the markets but may not actually be all that stimulative. Much of the infrastructure spending, at least, will take months or years to really affect the economy, though the tax cuts -- which are the source of much partisan controversy -- could have a more immediate effect.
Obama also plans some smaller-scale steps in the coming days to begin making his policy stamp. Executive orders are expected soon on stem-cell research, funding for international family planning groups and government ethics rules.
As for the really big reforms -- of health care, energy policy, Social Security and Medicare -- the timing for action remains uncertain. Of course, Obama's only been president for 20 hours. So we'll give him a little more time to formulate a plan. At least, until tomorrow.
January 21, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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