Priorities for the New President

His challenge from the start will be getting two big issues — one foreign, one domestic — right

Illustration by Stephen Kroninger for TIME; Obama: Alex Brandon / AP

In the days before the great election of 2008, your nation's capital was consumed by a single question: If Barack Obama wins, what's in it for me? A week before the balloting, I sat in the dining room of one of Washington's finest hotels and, eavesdropping madly, realized that my neighbors at every one of the adjoining tables were consumed by the vagaries of appointive politics — as I was, after my guest arrived. The game of turbocharged, Cabinet-level musical chairs is the autumnal version of the summer speculation about vice-presidential picks: lots of fun, but not very nourishing,...

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