By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
It’s an old house, a bit of a fixer-upper, really, but it’s big, with a lot of room and a lot of land around it.
It’s great for families, ideal for entertaining, but still homey, in a somewhat institutional way.
Buying the place would take some really deep pockets, but you wouldn’t have to spend as much money to purchase it as you would to simply earn the right to live in it temporarily.
Oh, did I mention it’s white?
At about 11 a.m. our time Sunday, in the Blue Room of the aforementioned White House, its latest resident will give way to its next occupant — who just happens to be the same fellow.
Barack Obama will take the oath of office for his second term, just after his first term expires at noon Eastern time Sunday, as the Constitution prescribes.
The ceremony is expected to be simple and brief. It is supposed to take less than five minutes, and will be witnessed by the president’s immediate family, along with Supreme Court John Roberts, who will administer the oath.
All the pageantry, parading and speech-making will come Monday.
As for the White House, if it were to be ever listed on the open real estate market it would sell for somewhere around $295 million, according to real estate website Zillow.
So what would $295 million buy you these days? Space, for one thing, 55,000 square feet of floor space covering 132 rooms, including 35 bathrooms, 16 bedrooms and three kitchens, not to mention 18 acres of prime downtown Washington, D.C., land.
If the Obamas were of a mind to, they could sub-let the house for a cool $1.75 million in monthly rent.
Of course, $295 million pales in comparison with the $985 million the Obama campaign spent to secure his re-election.
That accomplished, the Obamas will be ensconced in that home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. the next four years.
So what can we, the American public, expect to come from within those historic walls?
Not much, if you believe a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. Forty eight percent of respondents said they are uncertain or pessimistic about what to expect over the next four years, while 51 percent said they are optimistic or satisfied.
That is not surprising, given that is roughly the same popular vote margin in the last election, 51.1 for Obama to 47.2 percent for challenger Mitt Romney.
Those poll results stand in stark contrast to 2009, just before the president’s first inauguration.
Hope, it seems, has been replaced with a tendency to mope.
We look to our presidents for leadership, confidence, inspiration, determination, drive and a large dollop of common sense.
We won’t like everything they do, to be sure, and we know some of the things they tell us, we won’t want to hear. But we expect them to try and make things better for the nation.
We expect the president to make the gears of government turn smoothly, not grind to a screeching halt.
When it comes time for his speech on Monday, we expect the president to offer us eloquent words about the nation’s bright future.
But we want more than words, we want action.
We want the president and Congress to get together and figure out this whole fiscal-cliff, debt-ceiling mess, to get a handle on government spending and begin the laborious process of chipping away at the federal debt.
Of course, if our home is hit by a natural disaster, we want the federal government to pour tons of money and resources into the state to ease our pain.
We want more jobs and less taxes. We want an end to senseless slaughters such as the kind we saw in Aurora and Newtown, but we don’t want the government horning in on our right to own guns.
We want to be protected from terrorism, but we don’t want our rights infringed upon, and we certainly don’t want somebody patting us down in an airport security line or looking at us through some device that lays our image practically bare.
The president faces some large challenges over the next four years — the still somnolent economy, the gun control debate, the budget crisis, the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the continued threat of terrorism among them — but perhaps his largest challenge involves getting along with a fractured, petulant Congress, a tall task in itself.
And the president must try to avoid the pitfalls that always seem to plague presidents in their second term.
Dwight Eisenhower had to deal with the embarrassment of falling behind in the space race as the USSR launched Sputnik during his second term.
Watergate brought down Richard Nixon in his second term, the Iran-Contra scandal dragged down Ronald Reagan during his, Bill Clinton was impeached during his second four years, while Hurricane Katrina and the beginning of the Great Recession dogged George W. Bush in his second term.
Its a tough job, perhaps the toughest in the world.
Good luck, Mister President, we’re counting on you. Make us proud, or, at least, don’t make us sorry.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.