Barack Obama has been relying on the imprecise rhetoric of the professional campaigner for an astoundingly long time. And his inaugural speech showed no evidence that he’s willing to abandon this habit. He has, of course, been allowed to lean on poetic generalities for two years by an adoring press corps. But Americans of every political persuasion are bursting to know what he will actually do on any number of fronts. As importantly, world leaders have just about scratched their heads raw trying to glean the specifics of Obama’s intentions on everything from free trade to Iranian nukes. America’s gays are as baffled about the fate of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” as Poland’s President is about a missile shield in Eastern Europe.
President Obama has already told us what will take time and what may or may not be immediately prudent, depending on the recommendations of his advisors. He has told us that several things are top priorities, although it’s impossible not to imagine that the financial crisis will take up most of his attention. But that doesn’t do us much good. As President, Barack Obama has our respect. But if that respect is not soon paid back in kind with details about how he intends to serve our interests, he’ll lose our support.
From this day forward, Americans (all Americans; don’t expect the press corps to do this for you out of their own burning curiosity) need to demand answers. We can start with something the President said in today’s speech. Who will be the first to get President Obama to explain, at long last, what “we will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people” means?