For Obama, White House clout is now
The president-elect went public this week to reassure Americans he’s on top of the economic crisis.
America has one president at a time, Team Obama has repeated ad nauseam since Election Day. But the events of the past week have demonstrated otherwise: At an extraordinary time in American history, with the economy staggering and a lame-duck chief executive, the United States now in effect has two presidents.Skip to next paragraph
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The current Oval Office occupant, George W. Bush, still runs the government. His administration can, with the blink of an eye, make big things happen – as it did Tuesday with the announcement that it is deploying up to $800 billion to free up consumer lending.
But the soft power belongs to President-elect Barack Obama. His words, or even hints of his intentions, can move markets. Last Friday, when reports leaked that the next Treasury secretary would be New York Federal Reserve head Timothy Geithner, the Dow surged by 500 points.
Since then, Obama has made headlines daily and, beginning Monday, has held three press conferences in three days to announce different elements of his economic team, an unprecedented string for a modern-day president-elect.
Obama has left no doubt as to the urgency of his mission: to reassure the public that he is on top of the ongoing economic crisis and will hit the ground running on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.
The purpose of the board is to provide the incoming president with “independent, nonpartisan information, analysis, and advice” as he formulates his plans for economic recovery, according to Obama’s office. The board will meet regularly and is an add-on to the day-to-day economic team members Obama announced Monday and Tuesday.
Obama steps into the public arena
The announcement capped an extraordinary stretch, heading into the long weekend, in which an incoming president dominated the actual president in the arena of public messaging. This weekend is particularly important as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, a make-or-break time for some businesses. This year, consumers unsure of the future are expected to hold back on their purchases. Obama did not tell Americans to go out and shop, instead choosing to make clear he understands people’s concerns.