Wednesday, November 05, 2008

For Barack Obama, Now the Hard Part

The party is over and governing begins. Barack Obama has enjoyed the position of US Senator and candidate for President. These roles are all about criticism, not about governing. With a solid vote giving him a win, expectations are very high for him when he enters office in January.

One of my favorite quotes is from Teddy Roosevelt, who sait "it is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Being a "critic" is virtually the only job of a US Senator. Sure, they propose legislation, but they spend more time either dismissing the proposals of Presidents or trying to make the bills better, than actually making laws a reality. This may be why we haven't elected a sitting US Senator to the White House since 1960, when John F. Kennedy was elected. Since then, we elected a Vice President thrown into the Oval Office due to an assassination, than we elected a former Vice President. The next several Presidents included three former governors and a sitting Vice President. The US Senate had become a rather weak position to run for President. People were looking for leaders, not cheerleaders.

No matter who won this race -- Obama or McCain -- we would have a Senator moving into the White House. The Kennedy Administration, in spite of all the romanticism that surrounds it, was one of the least productive in US history. I think the weakness that mark that Administration played a role in our view of Senators. It will be interesting to see if Barack Obama raises the profile of that office as a springboard for the presidency.

Kevin Price articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media.

Kevin Price is Host of the
Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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