January 29, 2010
ATLANTA—Georgia State University College of Law Professor L. Lynn Hogue was one of four scholars asked recently by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to share their views on what President Barack Obama must do to ensure his first term is a success.
Below is the text of the piece, which was published in the January 17 edition of the paper.
How do I score the first year of Obama's presidency? Two measures seem most obvious: national security and the economy. Americans expect the President to keep them safe, and Obama will continue to be judged on how well he fulfills on this. Whether he can deliver on his declared intention to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay or fix how terrorists are tried, are frankly less important than avoiding another spectacular 9/11-style attack on the homeland. Crew and passenger vigilance saved Obama from the "underpants bomber." The fact that Bush 43 neither foresaw nor forestalled the 9/11 attacks on his watch shows how much a passing grade on national security rests on the luck of the draw. So far, the cards have favored Obama, and we all hope his luck continues.
The economy is the other big scoreboard. Americans will soon want to see a return to prosperity that includes real jobs recovery and at the least some stiff regulatory measures to prevent a repeat disaster. Both remain elusive. Unless stimulus efforts translate into jobs, Obama will be held accountable. Most people know that the rescue package that is now growing so unpopular was adopted in the waning days of Bush’s term. Obama badly needs a plan for Main Street; Wall Street's recovery seems only to fuel resentment. Finally, health care has dominated the news. Its swelling costs figure hugely in our current economic woes. If it gets passed soon (and works), Obama gets credit. If not, he gets the blame.