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But could he deliver?

As the Barack Obama juggernaut roles on leaving Hilary Clinton in his wake, it has to be said that all one reads or sees of him on TV is reflective of mouthing platitudes. The rhetoric might be persuasive, but what does the relatively untried Senator stand for? What are his policies, etc?

It is a question The Economist tries to answer in a piece "But could he deliver?"

"That question is partly answered by Obama the phenomenon. His immediate effect on international relations could be dramatic: a black president, partly brought up in a Muslim country, would transform America's image. And his youthful optimism could work at home too. After the bitterness of the Bush years, America needs a dose of unity: Mr Obama has a rare ability to deliver it. And the power of charisma should not be underrated, especially in the context of the American presidency which is, constitutionally, quite a weak office. The best presidents are like magnets below a piece of paper, invisibly aligning iron filings into a new pattern of their making. Anyone can get experts to produce policy papers. The trick is to forge consensus to get those policies enacted.

But what policies exactly? Mr Obama's voting record in the Senate is one of the most left-wing of any Democrat. Even if he never voted for the Iraq war, his policy for dealing with that country now seems to amount to little more than pulling out quickly, convening a peace conference, inviting the Iranians and the Syrians along and hoping for the best. On the economy, his plans are more thought out, but he often tells people only that they deserve more money and more opportunities. If one lesson from the wasted Bush years is that needless division is bad, another is that incompetence is perhaps even worse. A man who has never run any public body of any note is a risk, even if his campaign has been a model of discipline.

And the Obama phenomenon would not always be helpful, because it would raise expectations to undue heights. Budgets do not magically cut themselves, even if both parties are in awe of the president; the Middle East will not heal, just because a president's second name is Hussein. Choices will have to be made—and foes created even when there is no intention to do so. Indeed, something like that has already happened in his campaign. The post-racial candidate has ended up relying heavily on black votes (and in some places even highlighting the divide between Latinos and blacks).

None of this is to take away from Mr Obama's achievement—or to imply that he could not rise to the challenges of the job in hand. But there is a sense in which he has hitherto had to jump over a lower bar than his main rivals have. For America's sake (and the world's), that bar should now be raised—or all kinds of brutal disappointment could follow."

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