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Oglesby: We all should pray for our new president

POSTED: November 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Many people, knowing my unhidden preference, have asked me for my reaction to Barack Obama's election as the next president of the United States.

First, disappointment. Second, momentous. Third, recognition of an urgent need for serious prayer for our country and our president-elect. Fourth, some needed analysis can and will wait for another time.

Like it or not, Obama is our next president. Be certain of this truth applicable to all presidents: If he fails, our country fails.

I'm not talking about failure to pass promises. Responsible dissent has a place. As I've written many times, responsible dissent is THE prerequisite to progress. As a loyal opposition, the GOP has a moral and civic duty to oppose legislation and actions believed not to be in the interest of our country and to recognize that compromise usually is necessary in our form of government, each side giving some of their ideal.

Political reality is that the majority party will have to give up less, the minority party more. On truly major issues where one party controls both legislative and executive branches, a filibuster-proof majority of 60 would be disastrous for the country, regardless of party in control.

Make no mistake. Obama's election is truly momentous. Blacks say race may no longer be a decisive factor. Not quite. While both campaigns insisted racism wasn't a factor, it most definitely was, though not as much.

When about 95 percent of any race, ethnic group or religion votes for the same candidate, racism is a factor. All may provide heavy majorities for one party or another, but heavy means 65-75 percent, not near unanimous. In that sense, black racism indeed was a factor. And whites who won't vote for a black candidate, however qualified, still exist.

To the dismay and even anger of many fellow conservatives, I've long written that the Achilles heel of the Republican Party is the intolerance of its right wing. That was proven again. Some rich ironies exist in its "my way or the highway" mentality.

One of the richest is the immigration debate. John McCain and both our senators were in a bipartisan group trying to broker a comprehensive reform bill, each side giving away some. With President Bush's support, the Senate did. The House, led by the far right, vilified the agreement as amnesty, etc. so strongly that both our senators had to withdraw their support.

Even though they did, if Saxby Chambliss is defeated, his single act of statesmanship can rightfully be called the margin of loss of a vital seat and a big step closer to a disastrous filibuster-proof Senate.

When the Senate bill came up again, McCain voted against his own bill. He pragmatically explained the House would not support comprehensive reform without first securing the borders and permitting this was a necessary step to actually solving the problem.

Despite his long record as a friend of Hispanics who enjoyed heavy Hispanic support, they, with campaign rhetorical support from Obama, claimed McCain had sold them out. That support shifted overwhelmingly to Obama and may have been the margin of victory.

We have elected the least experienced, least known and least accomplished president in our history. While his electoral voted numbers are impressive, the popular vote total is considerably less than a landslide margin.

Colin Powell, whom I respect and could have supported for the presidency, admitted Obama now lacks the necessary skills needed in the office. He predicts Obama would surround himself with advisers who will teach him the skills he will need to meet the challenges he will face, particularly in the tests that will come very early in the presidency before he really gets his shoes wet. Indeed, we're already seeing a couple in progress.

Let's hope Obama is a quick learner and fervently pray that those advisers are successful. Indeed, the Bible commands we must pray for our leaders, even those who might persecute us. The Good Book is full of examples where such prayer has been successful.

God works in mysterious ways. He may not choose to prevent a bad thing from happening, but He has a way of turning bad into good for those who let Him. To Democrats and Republicans alike, this columnist recognizes Obama is our president-elect and will be praying fervently for his success because I want America to succeed.

Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly.



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