Accordingly, I have noted that Obama will have to choose his first set of issues very carefully. No doubt he has attempted to do that, and it is time to begin assessing his success.
1) The economy
Obama moved center with his proposal for economic stimulus. That was a good move. Unfortunately for the president, the Democrats in Congress have been less inclined to move center and the resulting bill (from the House, anyway) is much more partisan in character than the one Obama recommended. If the Senate increases the tax cut percentage reasonably close to his original proposal then a bipartisan bill may yet emerge. Obama gets a boost from that. Alternatively, the budget fight will help polarize conditions in the capital. The resulting bill will represent only the Democrats, and its relative lack of stimulative effect may come back to bite the party of the left.
I detect one plus for the Democrats in this scenario in that I think the basic problem with the economy is essentially fixed. I think the home market is poised to stabilize and grow. The current action of the government, in my view, will serve primarily to soften the bumps caused by the bad side of the business cycle, that is ,decreased consumer spending in the latter half of 2008 with the resulting loss of jobs as businesses cut labor and inventory. So the Democrats might look OK even with a relatively bad bill over the short term, though not likely worth the indebtedness that goes with it.
Obama decided to bite the bullet and commit to closing Gitmo. The move is a sop to his base but a difficult one to pull off to the satisfaction of the electorate generally. In recognition of the difficulty, Obama fashioned his strategy by putting the resolution of the issue on a year-long timetable without any initial details.
As noted above, making this a key early issue carries substantial risk in terms of exercising his political power over time.
Obama's choice of dealing with the economy was sound, albeit a bit obvious. His proposal was politically sound even if his rhetoric didn't always match up. Both issues carry substantial risk for Obama's presidency, though it's way too early to forecast the outcome in either case.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air highlighted a report that a military judge has blocked President Obama's attempt to postpone the military tribunals for Gitmo detainees.
This opens up a rather kinetic can o' worms.
The Obama administration can withdraw charges, but to do so while keeping Nashiri detained will be tantamount to holding him without charge — which is what Democrats disliked about Gitmo in the first place. They could release him outright, but since Nashiri is one of the masterminds of the attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors, it would be political suicide to do so.So it may have taken Obama almost two weeks to walk into a political vise. This is likely to hurt.
Jan 20, 2010: Fixed a number of typos, especially that one where the root word "debt" ended up with a "p" in it.