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Washington Sketch: Obama's World Looks More and More Divine

President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are starting to make some non-gloom-related announcements.
President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are starting to make some non-gloom-related announcements. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
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By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Maybe Barack Obama really is The One.

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Yesterday's news was good -- almost supernaturally so.

The economy? Recovering.

The markets? Rallying.

Swine flu? Abating.

Drought? Ending.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared his confidence that Pakistan's nuclear weapons are well secured. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee declared his confidence that a massive health-care overhaul will be accomplished this year. Warren Buffett declared his confidence that the economy is "out of the quicksand." And the Supreme Court was confident enough about the state of the nation to turn its attention to Janet Jackson's breasts.

Call it good policy, as Democrats do, or beginner's luck, as the last remaining Republicans do, but you can practically hear the nation collectively exhaling.

The rapid improvement in the public's mood is without precedent in modern history. Last week's Washington Post poll found that 50 percent of Americans think things are generally going in the right direction, up from only 8 percent in early October. That's the quickest change in optimism since the question was first asked by The Post in 1980. Views of President Obama, in turn, were impossibly high: Ninety percent called him willing to listen to different views, and better than 70 percent called him a strong leader, honest and trustworthy, and understanding of people's problems.

And that was before happiness started busting out all over yesterday.

First came news from Mexico that swine flu cases were diminishing, and from U.S. authorities that the virus is, for now, less severe than feared. "The feeling from federal officials seems to be one of relief today," NBC's Matt Lauer said on the "Today" show.

"We're seeing encouraging signs," agreed Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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