Congratulations, Mr. President-Elect. You're the proud owner of one national economy. It's huge, lumbering, ornery, quite old, and sometimes unstable. It's on a special diet now -- but the doctors can't be sure if it will help.
Your constituents are beginning to hate it, but they really want to love it again. If they're going to love you, it's going to start here.
He's not technically president until Jan. 20. But the Obama presidency really starts Friday, when Sen. Barack Obama begins to take ownership of the issue that did so much to get him elected.
He and Sen. Joe Biden are huddling with their economic team in Chicago -- the group charged with turning things around (maybe one of whom will be the new Treasury secretary) -- and then the president-elect holds his first press conference since the election, at 2:30 pm ET.
With auto leaders on the Hill asking for their own bailout, talk of a new stimulus package even before President Bush joins the ranks of the unemployed, and new (dismal) jobs numbers coming Friday, a nation jittery from watching the Dow is looking for presidential leadership.
And now comes the first real acknowledgement that all of this -- everything voters poured into this vessel called Barack Obama on Tuesday -- takes time and patience. Be careful what you wish for -- and that goes both ways.
"In responding, Mr. Obama must strike a delicate balance between cooperating with an unpopular president whose policies he campaigned to change, and the inclination to wait until he takes charge in two and a half months to prescribe his own remedies," Jeff Zeleny and Jackie Calmes write in The New York Times. "No incoming president in modern times has been so pressured to begin governing, in effect, before he is sworn into office."
Just like he imagined it would be? "The new president will probably spend his first year in office careering from crisis to crisis, throwing lifelines to hard-hit households, local governments, industries and developing countries. The job will feel a lot less like that of a ship's captain and a lot more like that of a triage nurse," Steven Pearlstein writes in his Washington Post column. "He will need to make clear that though he intends to pursue the broad agenda he laid out during the campaign, the timing and details -- many of which were laid out more than a year ago -- may need to be adjusted in light of dramatically changed circumstances."
Yes, the nation wants a president again -- but don't forget that this one is still a senator for another two months.
"Obama is expected to lead a discussion about the nation's troubling job losses and possible remedies. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has expressed support for passing a stimulus package in a lame-duck session of Congress. Obama's team does not appear to have reached consensus on that approach," the Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas and Michael Finnegan write.
"One Obama advisor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that it may be preferable to wait until the new president is sworn in before passing a stimulus package. 'Wait until the new president and the new team can put together a package that becomes a down payment on a broader investment agenda,' the advisor said. 'That would be my preference.' "