When Barack Obama took office back in January, changing policy wasn't necessarily going to be the hardest thing for the new young president to do. Policy is altered with the snap of a finger, the stroke of a pen.
The real task for Obama was always going to be managing expectations, and in no place has that been more difficult than in the economy and unemployment.
The slide that has brought us to where we are now took nearly 8 years to create. George W. Bush inherited a massive budget surplus and a booming economy. Every economist worth his salt warned Bush that he was riding a bubble, and that if he didn't act, he'd be looking at a disastrous economic downturn. And in 2004, on the eve of his reelection over John Kerry, 169 Ivy League economists (including three Nobel laureates and the majority of the faculty at the very Harvard Business School where Bush earned his MBA) sent an open letter to the president warning of the fiscal turmoil to come if he coninued to operate as he did. Bush ignored the letter.
Here we are, eight months into Barack Obama's presidency, and Americans- understandably- are frustrated. Unemployment has jumped to 9.7%, its highest level since 1983, and as millions struggle in vain to find ways to put food on the table, they want results from the White House.
As difficult as it may be to say or even believe, the economy will improve. But destroying something is a lot easier than building it up. If it took nearly a decade to effectively dismantle the most prominent marketplace in the world, it's not going to be fixed overnight.
As banks gain stability and the markets begin the move north, as credit becomes less frozen over time, jobs will bounce back. But it's long and windy road.