In Jan. 22 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, was inaugurated this week as the 44th leader of the United States amidst an unstable U.S. economy, shaky foreign relationships, two wars and what some are calling a climate crisis ... and his national popularity is at an all-time high, according to several national poll findings. There was an estimated 2 million people that witnessed him take the presidential oath of office on Tuesday, the largest inaugural crowd in history.
"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood," he said. "Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet," Obama said in his inaugural address.
"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real," he said. "They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met."
Despite President Obama losing to Sen. John McCain in Kentucky and, more specifically, in Russell County more than two months ago, locals are now focusing their attention to Obama and what his first priorities as president are going to be.
The Russell Springs and Jamestown topix.com forums have been a buzz in recent days about Obama and what his election to the highest governmental office means for the nation.
Two forum posters agreed that the shaky economy should be Obama's primary focus in his first year.
"There are too many people that want work that are unemployed, including myself," the first poster wrote.
That same individual listed the Iraq war as priority number two. "Get the troops out of that mess, and put them were they should've been in the first place ... Afghanistan."
The poster labeled health insurance as priority number three.
"If us taxpayers can bail out Wall St., we should be able to have access to health care that doesn't cost a fortune. Unfortunately, the economy is screwed up pretty good and won't be fixed for a while. The Iraq mess can be fixed in a relatively short time. Health insurance can happen very quickly if someone can figure out how to get the insurance lobbyist out of the politicians pockets," the poster added.
A second forum poster agreed that the economy should be Obama's number one priority.
"His first and the only priority he should think about is the economy and getting it lined out," the second poster added. "He must find ways to stop the massive layoffs and to start creating jobs."
"Things must be done quickly in order to save our way of living. I'm worried that the damage may have already been done. Never have I seen layoffs and production cuts by pretty much every single company not only in the U.S. but the entire world," they wrote.
"As we slip into depression so does the the rest of the world as we are the leader. Things are really starting to look very bleak but the worst maybe yet to come. Obama must now step up to the plate and deliver. Just remember what he promised during his campaign," they added.
A recent Associated Press poll found that 65 percent of Americans believe Obama will be an "above average" president or better while 28 percent said they think he will be an "outstanding" president.
The AP poll also showed that the majority of American citizens believe Obama's economic recovery plan is going to be a success.
The Obama administration's proposed $825 billion economic stimulus package includes a large number of federal grants, outlays and loans. Late last week the U.S House Appropriations Committee unveiled its version of the plan, according to national media outlets.
The stimulus package includes funding for federal construction and research projects, homeland security and alternative energy as well as social welfare, education and public health programs and services, according to published reports.
The national poll also shows that 65 percent believe unemployment will go down during his time as the nation's leader, 72 percent said they believed stock market would rebound and 63 percent said they thought their personal finances would improve.
With Russell County being a rural, mostly conservative area where hunting and shooting sports are commonplace, many locals are also concerned with Obama's stance on guns and the second amendment.
As a U.S. Senator from Illinois, Obama voted to leave gun makers and dealers open to lawsuits, according to media reports. While in the Illinois state legislature he supported a ban on semiautomatic weapons and tighter restrictions on all firearms but while campaigning for president last year Obama told an Ohio crowd that he would not take their shotguns, rifles or handguns away.
After he was elected president, nationwide gun and ammunition sales skyrocketed as people worried he may impose stricter regulations on the gun industry, much like former President Bill Clinton did when he took office.