Twas the Day after Inauguration…

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WASHINGTON - It started with promise, ended in jubilation and now, the hard part- welcome to the new reality show called White House: The Obama Years.

"I'd like him to tackle the rough issues that have been ignored for so many years," said one man.

"I'd like to see him fix this mess," another chimed in. "This economic mess is just completely unprecedented."

"With the war going on and then we don't know what's going to happen with Israel, he's got a lot of problems," said another gentleman.

The list is long. First up is the mother of all priorities: the economy.

Obama's Stimulus Plan

His fix is a stimulus plan full of big government spending on infrastructure projects with some tax cuts in an attempt to create more jobs and spur the economy.

Obama's goal is to eventually create or save 3 to 4 million jobs in the next two years. He's also committed to rejuvenating the housing market by making sure the billions of bailout dollars Congress approved is spent wisely.

"Many of us have been disappointed in the lack of transparency, the tracking of how the money has been spent," Obama said. "My commitment is we're going to change some practices using the next phase for housing and small businesses."

But domestically, what will come after that and when?

The Obama administration believes they can work on both energy and health care at the same time - dual track it if you will. At this point, there seems to be more momentum on the Hill to get an energy bill done before health care which would require more heavy lifting.

"He can rally a lot more people around a common sense energy plan than I think health care," said CNN contributor Roland Martin.

The Mideast Dilemma

On foreign policy, the agenda is loaded with hot spots. The new President will need to act quickly on the Israel-Hamas conflict though he has given no indication of what he plans to do.

As for Iran, expect some type of direct negotiation.

In Iraq, the call remains for a responsible withdrawal of U.S. forces within the next 18 months or so.

And in Afghanistan, expect a high profile effort to increase troops and resources on this terror front that has taken a back seat to Iraq.

"Bin Laden and al Qaeda are the main threat and we will do everything we can to keep Americans safe. Bottom line," vowed Obama.

Battling the Beast of Beltway Politics

But for Obama to accomplish much of anything, he must figure out how to break through the partisanship that has soured the mood on Capitol Hill.

Going into his presidency, Obama will know a thing or two about rough and tumble politics. After all, he is from Chicago, a city that is well known for it. But Washington is a different animal. Beltway politics is a tough nut to crack.

Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina told CBN News the incoming administration has a plan to break through the gridlock.

"Change is never easy and we are proposing a bunch of changes that are going to be hard." Messina said. "That's why we can only do it by working with the American people and bringing the country together in a real discussion about how to meet these challenges."

Obama's plan has been called both simple and revolutionary. Taking cues from a successful political campaign, the administration plans to use technology like text messaging to mobilize millions of people nationwide.

"If you have gridlock in DC he has the ability to punch a button, to touch 10-12 million people, whatever the number is by text message or email to say 'Hey, I need you on board with me'. Contact these guys," Martin said. "I think members of Congress don't understand the pressure they could very well be under from their constituents if they are getting in his way."

The Role of the Media

He may get some help from the media too. Obama mainstream media mania may fizzle at some point, but Republican leaders like Michael Steele doubt it.

David Brody: How long do you give him on the honeymoon period?

Michael Steel: I'm anticipating two years. I kid you not. Let me tell you why - because they have too much invested in this guy. This is their creation. He is their creation. Not vetted. Not challenged and now he's President. You think they're going to undo that?

And with an economy in shambles there doesn't seem to be an appetite to engage on the hot button social issues.

"He is basically going to say 'Look, forget all of the social drama if you will. Let's focus on bread and butter issues that affect everybody,' Martin predicted. "You could be gay, straight, married, single, black, white, Hispanic whatever. If you're broke, you're broke."

The Issues That Divide

But social policy will creep into the mix.

For example, on potential executive orders there are strong indications that as President, Obama will lift the restrictions on federal embryonic stem cell research and allow taxpayer funds to pay for abortions overseas.

He's also expected to close Guantanamo Bay and push to end the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy of gays in the military.

And then there's the abortion issue.

During his campaign, Obama pledged to sign The Freedom of Choice Act if it reaches his desk. Pro-life groups say that law would, in effect, have the power to overturn pro-life related laws across the country. Many are waiting to see if and when this becomes a presidential priority.

There are plans to push forward with a faith-based office.

The Bush Administration focused more on how the government could help get money to religious groups. Under the Obama administration, more focus will be placed on asking these groups for public policy input to solve problems.

"I think they are a force for good and can do great things in the community and I think not all the changes we need in this country are going to be brought about because of a government program," Obama said.

Who Is Obama?

Some have tried to paint Obama as a liberal ideologue, but his cabinet picks have been relatively centrist and he even picked pro-life conservative Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inaugural.

He's also met for dinner with top conservative journalists and will speak to Senate Republicans at their annual meeting.

He has promised a new way of avoiding partisan gridlock. Nobody has really been able to pin Obama down as to exactly how he'll govern. He has liberal ideas, but will he govern that way?

"He campaigned and was a pragmatist," said Chicago-Sun Times journalist Abdon Pallasch. "He is not a liberal ideologue. There are fair criticisms against him, but the one that he is a liberal ideologue I just don't think was accurate."

He continued, "In Springfield and throughout his career he has proven himself as someone who's willing to make certain compromises to get things done and I think he'll do that in DC."

Messina weighed in saying, "He's a leader who will govern by involving all parties together and so I think he's done what he should be going to Congress and saying 'Here's some ideas on how we get an economic stimulus package that works, but I want to involve you in this discussion.'"

The series debut of the Obama reality show begins now. The question everybody is wondering: Will it be a ratings hit or a big time flop? The nation is dialed in and watching.

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CBN News
David Brody

David Brody

CBN News White House Correspondent

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