I’ve reached a state I never thought I’d feel – pity for Barack Obama.

Yes, really. Now that the challenge and competition and excitement of the campaign is over, reality is hitting and the poor guy is probably having a hissy fit. Imagine the weight of responsibility for the well-being of 300 million people on your shoulders. It’s not a position I’d want. And perhaps it’s not a position he accurately anticipated. In other words, I suspect he’s finding out that being president may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Too late now.

I expect my pity for Obama will fade into loathing as soon as he gets his socialistic and inexperienced hands on the reins of government. But during the waning weeks of 2008 as he prepares to take office, Obama is doubtless facing challenges he never knew existed. After all, being president of a major nation is a bit different than organizing a community, whatever that entails. Gotta feel sorry for him.

I have this vision of Obama, as president-elect, sitting down with President Bush for the first time in the Oval Office and getting an earful of reality. Doubtless Bush will fill him in on the real story about terrorism, the economy and international relations. I imagine Obama having an “oh bleep” moment. As in “Oh bleep, what have I gotten myself into?”

I mean, the poor guy is already being battered and bruised and attacked from all sides and he hasn’t even taken office yet. Imagine the stress. Yikes!

The pressure on Obama is coming from all fronts. The efforts to get him to cough up a legal, verifiable, official birth certificate must be annoying enough. Who cares about Clause 5 of the 2nd Article of the Constitution requiring him to be a natural born citizen of the United States? For crying out loud, why can’t these people just take his word for it? How dare so many millions demand that elusive document? Yet this is an issue that could have staggering consequences.

Then of course there’s the threat of terrorism, underscored by the recent hideous attacks on Mumbai. We haven’t had a terrorism attack on our shores since 9/11, in large part due to the thankless work of President Bush. No, I don’t especially like Bush, but the fact remains he’s managed to thwart terrorism within our borders for the last seven years.

Because of that thwarting, we’ve become complacent in this country about our security. We take security and freedom from terrorism so much for granted that now we think anyone can maintain that security. Anyone at all. The fellow down the street. The housewife around the corner. The community organizer from Chicago.

But security against terrorists takes vigilance, surveillance, a show of strength, and foresight. It doesn’t take soft-spoken “dialogue” with terrorists. Terrorists don’t want to “understand” us – they want to kill us. Big difference. If we’re going to speak softly, we’d better be carrying a darned big stick.

Can Obama carry that stick? I don’t know. But what I do know is that foreign terrorists are breathless with anticipation, waiting to find out. Obama WILL be tested.

Barack is also keeping the Secret Service up at night as well. The Secret Service is dealing with more threats to Obama’s safety than with any other president-elect in our nation’s history. Who is making these threats? I don’t know, of course; but again, I suspect they come from all sides. Doubtless there are brainless bigots who don’t want a black man in office Doubtless there are extreme whacko “constitutionalists” who don’t want a socialist in office. Doubtless there are a whole bunch of people who have their own reasons to dislike Obama, and have decided to make their concerns verbal enough to be investigated.

It goes without saying that threatening a president or president-elect is a cowardly thing to do. No excuse is acceptable. Grow up, people.

Another problem Obama faces is one of the worst economic situations since the Great Depression. I expect he’ll do his best to ease that situation by attempting yet more government interference in the form of bailouts and reforms, even more than the current administration implemented. I expect inflation will skyrocket and we will sink into a depression. Who will history blame? Obama. Poor guy.

Finally, Obama is now in the difficult position of needing to specify exactly what “changes” he will implement. The trouble with change is that it is frequently unrealistic on a national scale (not always, but most of the time). Obama is probably realizing the mantra of “change” that swept him into office is a two-edged sword. Some people honestly expect him to make good on his promises, vague as they were. Out with the old, in with the new (except his Cabinet is shaping up to look amazingly like the Clinton administration’s). Soak the rich (except he seems to be rethinking axing the Bush tax cuts – after all, it might hurt the economy even more). Get us out of Iraq (as time and conditions permit – hmmm, sounds surprisingly like Bush’s plan).

That’s why politicians break promises. They were unkeepable to begin with.

Did you ever wonder why presidents age so much while in office? It’s pressure, folks. Tons and tons of pressure. It never lets up. Why anyone would voluntarily take on this load is beyond me, but there you go.

So while I am not pleased that Obama is now president-elect, I can find it in my heart to pity the man.

And I will pray for him.

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