Graydon Carter: The right man at the right time

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The Independent Online

Barack Obama's that rarity in American politics, a man of his word, and he has already kept a number of his campaign promises. Guantánamo will be closed; Cuba is opening up; CIA black sites have been shut down; the environment and healthcare have been moved to the front burner; the timetable for removing ourselves from Iraq has been established; he's shifted attention to Afghanistan. His poll numbers are strong; 31 per cent more Americans now believe the country is on the right course than did at the start of the year. We like this president, we want to see what he can do, and we appear to be willing to give him the time to do it.

He has laid out his long-term plans and repeatedly explained them to the American public. There's a calming effect in this, and it fosters patience. He is a thoughtful, serious man, in the right office, in the right time in the nation's history.

There are any number of areas that may prove his undoing – some of his making, some not. The administration's reaction to the global financial crisis has been a grab-bag of expensive possible remedies. But so were FDR's when he was trying to pull the country out of the Great Depression. Obama might become the first president since Lyndon Johnson to forge a significant advance toward universal healthcare in this country. Even the drug and healthcare industries seem resigned to some sort of major change.

Afghanistan could well wind up being for him what Vietnam was for Kennedy and Johnson. And the financial mess dumped on him by the Bush White House could prove unfixable. Those were inherited problems. His reaction to unforeseen events will be a telling test of his political mettle. And so far, he's been so good, and so smart, that the subject of his race isn't even a surface issue.

The man has bitten off a lot, but he appears to have the appetite, intellect, and light energy to become a transformative commander-in-chief in the vein of FDR or Reagan.

Graydon Carter is the editor of 'Vanity Fair'