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Opinion: Obama Shows Confidence in Face of Gloomy Times

In his first important speech to Congress, President Barrack Obama didn't sugarcoat the situation, but added he was confidant that the country would pull itself up again, say Deutsche Welle's Christina Bergmann.

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Barack Obama didn't really have anything new to say in his speech, but that wasn't necessary. After just five weeks in office, his administration has accomplished amazing things: they've passed an almost $800 billion (628 billion euro) stimulus package, got the ball rolling on help for families forced to sell their homes and for banks that have gone into a tailspin, sent special envoys to the world's trouble spots and ordered the closing of Guantanamo.

No one should seriously expect these measures to have an immediate effect. The USA is like a supertanker: the new captain on board can order a new course, but such a large ship will still take a while to change direction. So the president has done what is, at the moment, the most important thing he can do – conveyed an image of confidence to his fellow countrymen. In America the economic crisis is also a crisis of trust. The stock market doesn't trust the government, banks don't trust consumers, and consumers have no trust in the future.

Christina Bergmann

Christina Bergmann

However the Americans still trust their president. Obama's approval rating has barely budged since he took office. Obama is very thankful to the people of the US, who he is certain will maintain the new course. He radiates calm and assurance; because what the US needs the least is a president willing to throw his principles overboard.

While the dourness and resistance to criticism that marked the Bush administration hasn't continued, it's still too early to label Barack Obama as perfect. Many things that the new government has undertaken have had their problems. The stock market is still waiting for the second half of the program to support the financial sector. The third nominee for secretary of commerce has been put forth, after the first two that Obama had found pulled out. And evidence of bi-partisan cooperation is hard to find. But this is small change compared to the mammoth task facing Barack Obama and his administration. Those who have accused the young president of failing need to ask themselves whether or not his Republican rival for the presidency, John McCain, really would have been a better alternative in this situation.

Christina Bergmann is Deutsche Welle's Washington correspondent

Author: Christina Bergmann (mrm)

Editor: Trinity Hartman

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