The 44th president is talented and blessed with a silver tongue, but he is also very lucky. He will need that luck to stay with him.
The financial bubble could have burst any time in the last 5 years, or it could have lasted another year or two. The timing was lucky for Obama, who was perceived by voters as more trustworthy on the economy (mainly because the Republicans have been so untrustworthy). The recession is already painful, but we will come out of it in a year.
Corollary luck is for Obama to have a pot of 700 billion dollars already appropriated to work with. I doubt that all of it will be spent. It’s main purpose is already achieved, to provide a backstop of confidence for the financial system. Some will be spent to stanch the home loan foreclosure rate. There will be plenty left over. Opportunity for Lucky 44.
Obama was also lucky to be running at a time when the Republicans were so self-destructive. Right wing extremists had (and have) such a grip on the party that it could not field a strong candidate. McCain was probably the best brand, but his campaign was apparently run by those same extremists and he never had much chance to be himself. Palin is merely a continuation of that same narrow minded extremism (that’s why she was selected, after all). Obama couldn’t have beat a Reagan or a Nixon, or probably even McCain if McCain had actually run as a moderate.
Corollary luck was that McCain’s pandering to the extremists all but broke the bank on his campaign early on, so he had no choice but to accept public financing. Obama promised to do the same, but soon realized that he would not have to, as the money started pouring in. It would have been a very different race if both candidates were limited to public financing. If the money had not started flowing until a few months later, Obama might have actually signed up for public financing. Although he opened up the donation money faucet himself, the timing of its flow was lucky.
Obama was also lucky that the war in Iraq took a positive turn when it did. Had it not, he would have been facing McCain the soldier in every speech, and been on the defensive. The situation is far from stable in Iraq and fast approaching disaster in Afghanistan, but Lucky 44 found a calm in the storm at just the right moment.
Corollary luck was that there was no spectacular terrorist incident in the past two years. Some of that can be credited to the hard work of the intelligence agencies, the military, and Homeland Security. Still, we all know that cloak of protection is full of holes and Obama was lucky.
There is a lot of trouble ahead. Let’s hope Lucky 44 continues to have the magic.