Obama's intray from hell

IN less than two weeks time the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama will take place and it will quite rightly be greeted as event of historic significance.

His election victory was moving enough to bring a tear to my eye, so it is difficult to imagine the pride and feeling it must have brought to African Americans who fought for their basic civil rights.

For many the inauguration of Barack Obama will feel like the wiping away of America’s original sin of slavery, even though Obama’s father was from Kenya and his mother a white woman from Kansas.

It will also lift America’s standing in the world after the disappointment of the Bush years.

One problem for Obama is the level of expectation now placed on his shoulders.

He has proven to be an eloquent orator on the campaign trail, giving the appearance of having the winning combination of a cool head and a warm heart.

But the former Governor of New York Mario Cuomo once said, “We campaign in poetry, but we govern in prose.”

When he gets to the White House he will face the intray from hell, which will require more than a brilliant command of the spoken word, but the ability to make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions.

On the economy I believe he will follow Gordon Brown’s approach, rather than David Cameron’s, and inject money into the economy to help support communities and businesses at a time of downturn.

In foreign policy I hope that we will see a new direction in particular in the Middle East where America must play a more balanced role between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Obama is intelligent enough to know that his place in history is assured, but to be measured as a great president will be a tougher challenge still.