David Gergen Speaks at SNHU

Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Union Leader

Gergen at SNHU: Nation's problems 'overwhelming'

HOOKSETT – Political analyst David Gergen offered his insights on President-elect Obama's recent cabinet appointments on Larry King Live last night, but not before he offered a keynote address of similar note to a small group at Southern New Hampshire University.

The event was the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire's second annual fall forum. Gergen -- a former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton and a senior political analyst for CNN -- was the group's chosen speaker.

Gergen's speech centered on foreign policy issues that the Obama administration will face, as well as short-term and long-term problems that need attention.

"I think (Obama) has got great momentum ... but I think (the country) has huge problems," Gergen said. "These problems are hard and they are overwhelming." Addressing the country's economic recession will be the administration's first priority, he said. Pulling troops out of Iraq, addressing threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan and reassessing America's role as a world superpower are other tough subjects the new cabinet will have to tackle, he said.

"Every one of these issues is going to require immediate attention," he said. "We've prided ourselves in being the world's greatest nation ... but it's clear the days are coming when we'll have to share power. It's clear that is coming and there isn't anything we can do about it."

Gergen said threats posed by unstable Middle East nations will test the aptitude of the new administration. He said Hillary Clinton is a wise choice for the next secretary of state, but it not known whether the new cabinet can work coherently as a team.

"These are issues that we've tangled with that will have deep international implications that Barack Obama will have to deal with," he said. "There is a lot of work to be done by the State Department and potentially the Pentagon to deal with all this."

Shelly Petry, a senior at Southern New Hampshire University and a political science major, volunteered at the event. She said Gergen's insights were interesting given the challenging times.

"It's a little bit scary because, like he said, the job market is so bad," Petry said. "I'm really interested in Afghanistan and so I really appreciated how he spent time talking about that. It was all very informational."

Jack Resch, president of the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire, said after the forum that the speech was informative and insightful.

"It was really thought-provoking. He sees the big picture," Resch said. "On the one hand, (the problems the country faces) are sort of alarming. On the other hand, it's inspiring to hear about the number of ways and the means to address them."

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