In the election aftermath, the Obamas had an early introduction to their new home. It was also an occasion for the outgoing and incoming Presidents to exchange notes on the challenges ahead, chief among them the economic crisis. Obama made it clear he intended to hit the ground running.
“Today, Vice-President Biden and I are pleased to announce the nomination of four individuals who meet this criteria to lead our economic team,” said the President-elect. In naming his economic people ahead of the national security team, Obama seemed to be signalling where his priorities lay. He had promised change during the campaign and he appeared to be delivering. “Our first job is to put people back to work and get our economy working again,” he said. “This is an extraordinary challenge which is why I have taken the extraordinary step of working, even before I take office, with my economic team and leaders of both parties.” With what he hopes will be the recession-busting A- team in place, Obama then turned to other key appointments. His choice of former rival Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State surpised some, but other members of the former Clinton administration were also invited on board. Even on a short family break in Hawaii, Obama remained the focus of attention. It was during this time that the conflict in the Middle East erupted and many wanted to know how he would deal with the situation when in office. It was a delicate matter as Obama had tried not to comment on foreign affairs while Bush was still in power. “A president is not going to have a second chance to make a first impression,” he said. “And I think that everybody is anticipating what he is going to do and say on day one, particularly because he has been keeping quiet – rightly so I think” But the violence escalated to such an extent that it became almost impossible for him to remain silent. He spoke cautiously on the mounting civilian death toll. “When you see civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli, harmed, under hardship, it is heartbreaking. And obviously what that does is it makes me much more determined to try to break a deadlock that has gone on for decades.” Obama is generally regarded as having handled the transition well, but that, ultimately, is not what history will judge him on.