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Great expectations

Some are getting carried away. They are delighting in Obama signaling his intention to close Guantanamo and reverse an executive order that bans stem cell research. Refreshing it may be in seeing the president-elect putting science at the heart of his administration and forbidding torture. But Obama will fail to be considered a great president if all he does is not be Bush. After all not being Bush is quite easy – some say it only takes a little intellect.

Yet real greatness is achieved when leaders take bold action in thoughtful ways. Here are some options:

1) He could double US aid to Africa.

2) He could immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol and call for another Earth summit to reduce carbon emissions still further. He should abandon his pledge to switch to ethanol, which takes up arable land devoted to growing food for the developing world. He should reaffirm his convention pledge to wean the US off foreign oil within ten years.

3) He could make his first overseas visit as president to the Middle East, and include a trip to the Palestinian Authority and Israel. He should invite Hamas leaders and the Israeli prime minister to the White House. It may not make anything better, but how could it make anything worse?

4) He should allow American soldiers to be tried by the International Criminal Court, if that court feels the US is missing something when it comes to putting its own house in order.

5) He should invite the Russian president to jointly get rid of all nuclear weapons.

6) He should threaten the Sudanese with military action if any further attempts are made at genocide. By doing so, the president would send a message to all other leaders that they have a duty of care to their citizens.

7) He should withdraw US troops from Iraq but make a strong case as to why they should be deployed in greater numbers in Afghanistan. He should make clear that NATO may have to be there for several decades.

8) He needs to balance the US budget by the time he leaves office, with tax increases for the wealthiest.

9) He should adopt Hillary Clinton’s heath care plan, not his own. This will ensure that every American must be covered by a health insurance plan. He must ban insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of health.

10) He should be prepared to lose an election in pursuit of all these goals.

I'm just not sure about her

Too little, too late