published Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Chattanooga: Author Goodwin sees hope in inauguration

by Elizabeth Ryan

More than just a transfer of power, an inauguration represents our country’s unending hope for renewal, said presidential scholar Doris Kearns Goodwin.

“Americans have this great capacity to think, ‘We can change things. Things are going to be different now that a new president is in there,’” she said during her visit to Chattanooga last week. “And it’s a good hopeful thing to be able to mobilize spirit again, to take a look at the problems in a fresh way and think that there’s a chance of moving in a different direction.”

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But after President Barack Obama made history today, it will be how he governs that will define whether America’s optimism will pay off, said Ms. Goodwin, whose book “Team of Rivals,” examines President Abraham Lincoln and his leadership. President Obama has said President Lincoln influenced his thinking.

The best advice she could give the incoming president is to listen to other people.

“Make sure (he) gets outside that bubble as much as (he) can,” she said. “(He’s) going to have to figure out ways to get ordinary people to give him advice.”

Ms. Goodwin said she hopes President Obama also will show that he is willing to be held accountable, another principle of good governance.

“The most important thing is just to be able to constantly know that (he) can acknowledge when something goes wrong and not blame it on the press, not blame it on someone else, but look to (himself) and then (he) can grow from that and become bigger as time goes by,” she said.

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