私は全部を逐一読んでいるわけではないですが、玉石混淆の論評のなかではFTのPhilip Stephensが書いたコラムが印象に残りました。

Changes that will shape a leader promising change

By Philip Stephens
Published: January 22 2009 20:46 | Last updated: January 22 2009 20:46

I gave up listing the existential tests for Barack Obama when I saw a headline telling the US president he had four years “to save the planet”. In this instance, the foe to be vanquished was global warming. It might have been any one of a dozen: from the crisis in the global economy to violent Islamism; from poverty to nuclear proliferation.

Perhaps it was all the headache-inducing headlines that persuaded President Obama to prefer sombre prose over soaring poetry in his inaugural address. Some of those who briefed him during the transition about these matters sensed a politician striving to give sequence and order to the avalanche of challenges: “Where do I start?” His speech on Tuesday bore marks of the same intellectual struggle.

Those waiting for a reprise of the cadences and applause lines of the campaign trail were disappointed. Where were the memorable phrases to rival Jack Kennedy’s “ask not” call to duty, or Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “fear itself”? Yet those seeking clues as to how Mr Obama intends to govern will have seen the strategic sense in such studied sobriety.

If the opinion polls are a guide, he caught the national mood. Four-fifths of American voters, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News survey, are optimistic about the president’s capacity to take the country in the right direction.

For now, the weight of these expectations is tempered by realism and patience. Two-thirds, for example, think the recession will last for another two years. Most are prepared to give Mr Obama time to redeem two other pivotal promises: ending the war in Iraq and reforming healthcare.

As for memorable phrases, first-night reviews rarely alight on the sentiments that endure. The line that first jumped out of Kennedy’s speech was the cold war admonition to “pay any price, bear any burden”. History gets rewritten. Memories adjust to what happens next.

The majesty of this week’s celebrations in Washington spoke to America’s global power as much as to its self-belief in moments of adversity. Only France, that other proud republic, is as regal in its pageantry. But the million and more who gathered in front of the Capitol to hail Mr Obama were but a small fragment of the audience.

Perhaps a billion gathered in sitting rooms, bars and street corners in every part of the globe. Many, perhaps a majority, were admiring, even if grudgingly so. Whatever the world’s arguments with Washington ? and George W. Bush left plenty behind ? for those from afar watching the coronation of a black American president, the only answer to the “where else” question was “nowhere”.

The audience also paid homage to the fact that, for all the self-inflicted wounds of Mr Bush’s presidency, the US is still by far the world’s most powerful nation. So it was striking that at the very heart of Mr Obama’s oration was a rare, if oblique, admission of the limitations of its power: “The world has changed, and we must change with it.” Now there was a sentence with meaning. Beyond race, if the colour of his skin were not significant enough, Mr Obama’s presidency closes the door on two other chapters in America’s history.

At home, the economic crisis has brought to an end the unchallenged hegemony of liberal capitalism that was crystallised by Ronald Reagan nearly three decades ago. Government, Reagan declared in his 1981 inaugural address, was “the problem not the solution”.

The financial wreckage of the past year tells a different story. It leaves Mr Obama as the first liberal president since Kennedy who does not have to walk in fear of his own liberalism. The argument, as he put it on Tuesday, is no longer about big or small government, but about what works. An $800bn (?617bn, £581bn) economic rescue package will follow.

The discrediting of market fundamentalism does not present Mr Obama with a blank cheque. Americans did not vote for higher taxes or for federal roadblocks to be placed in the way of enterprise. The US cannot continue to run trillion-dollar deficits indefinitely. Nor can we predict where the lines will be drawn between the state and the market in the economy that will emerge from the rubble of Wall Street. But the catastrophic failure of financial capitalism has changed the terms of the debate for a generation.

This is the opportunity that exists alongside the huge challenge of escaping recession. America has a chance to rebuild its broken infrastructure and to invest in education and health. Not so long ago, Mr Obama’s observation that a nation cannot prosper when it favours only the prosperous would have been branded by Republicans as dangerous socialism. Now it seems wholly uncontroversial.

If this first big change is welcome, the second is unavoidable. It presents Mr Obama with as many tensions as opportunities. It demands that America reconcile its self-image with shifting geopolitical realities.

The picture was drawn for Mr Obama during the transition in a report* from his own top intelligence specialists. The US will remain the world’s indispensable power for decades to come, they told him. Its power will be unmatched, even by fast-rising China. But America will increasingly find itself as one of several important actors on the global stage. Exercising US leadership will depend on accommodations and alliances with other powers. Legitimacy will count for as much as brute force.

All this is greatly welcome to America’s allies. Less so, one suspects, to a domestic audience suspicious still of anything that looks like shackling the exercise of US power. Mr Obama’s words this week and his first actions as president ? the promised closure of Guantánamo Bay; telephone calls to Arab leaders ? recalled the insights of Roosevelt and Truman. The substance will be harder than the symbolism.

Mr Obama’s presidency could yet buckle under the burden of unrequited hope. The mistake would be to treat each of the challenges as one to be met within the span of a single ? or even of two ? terms in the White House. Many of the more intractable ones will long outlive him.

More important than arriving at any one destination will be an intelligent resolve that shows America is travelling in the direction he has set; and that it remembers, as its new president said this week, the power that resides in humility and restraint. Leaders shape events; but even those of nations as powerful as is the US are also shaped by them.



 記事にもあるように、オバマ大統領は「The argument is no longer about big or small government, but about what works.」と主張しました。実際の文言は「The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.」です。







benyamin ♂


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