No pressure

NO PRESSURE…. It’s not unusual for presidents to take office with a degree of public optimism, but Barack Obama will be sworn in with hopefulness that we haven’t seen in a long while. To the added advantage of the incoming president, he seems to have the best of both worlds — Americans have faith in his abilities, and at least for now, they don’t expect immediate progress.

President-elect Barack Obama is riding a powerful wave of optimism into the White House, with Americans confident he can turn the economy around but prepared to give him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces starting Tuesday, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

While hopes for the new president are extraordinarily high, the poll found, expectations for what Mr. Obama will actually be able to accomplish appear to have been tempered by the scale of the nation’s problems at home and abroad.

The findings suggest that Mr. Obama has achieved some success with his effort, which began with his victory speech in Chicago in November, to gird Americans for a slow economic recovery and difficult years ahead after a campaign that generated striking enthusiasm and high hopes for change.

Most Americans said they did not expect real progress in improving the economy, reforming the health care system or ending the war in Iraq — three of the central promises of Mr. Obama’s campaign — for at least two years. The poll found that two-thirds of respondents think the recession will last two years or longer.

A total of 79% of Americans are optimistic about Obama, a “level of good will for a new chief executive that exceeds that measured for any of the past five incoming presidents.” Oddly enough, even 58% of McCain voters are optimistic about the new president.

Some of this has to be the result of public disgust for the Bush presidency. A lot of Americans are no doubt hopeful about the future because Bush/Cheney won’t be in the White House anymore. Indeed, looking through the poll, there’s almost a mirror image — nearly eight in 10 have an unfavorable view of Bush; nearly eight in 10 believe the nation is in worse shape than five years ago; and nearly eight in 10 believe Obama will help get the nation back on track.

That said, it’s not just relief about the End of an Error at play here. The public, right now, likes and trusts Barack Obama. The goodwill and the desperate desire to see him succeed is overwhelming.

Something for congressional Republicans to think about when plotting their obstructionist tactics.