Moments In 2008 That Kept Us Talking
: But Marcus, as we were taking a break, we were speaking to you about the economic situation. Looking ahead now, if you would, so many things are now on the president-elect's plate. And this resurgence of this violence in the Gaza Strip, as Abderrahim was just pointing out, brings the Middle East back to the forefront of the headlines, where it has not been previously. But what do you think the president-elect is going to have to tackle first?
MABRY: Barack Obama is going to have to concentrate like a laser on the American economy. Millions of Americans are going to lose their jobs next year. This economic downturn is far from over, and what we've seen in this very anemic retail season is just a little beginning of the pressure that companies are going to be under, and that pressure - economic pressure of companies is going to lead to a real pressure to lay off millions more of Americans. So he's going to have to concentrate on the economy, but foreign policy is hardly going to go away.
: I'd like to ask each of the rest of our panelists in the time that we have left, what are those stories or issues that we did not give as much attention to over the course of the year that are now going to have to get the president-elect's attention? Abderrahim?
Well, I mean, begin with Gaza because it seems to me that this situation - the current situation in Gaza ties into a whole host of other issues in the Middle East, ties into the issue of Hezbollah in Lebanon, it ties into the issue of Iran, it ties into the issue of Syria. And all these are going to be incredibly pressing issues competing for the attention of Barack Obama. We don't know where the current conflict is between the Israelis and the Palestinians in Gaza is actually going to lead. My sense is that eventually, wherever it leads to, it's going to be - whether it's going to be Lebanon, Syria or Iran - Barack Obama is going to have a hard time not dealing with that particular part of the world as a top priority.
: Ken Rudin, what about you? One of the things that I was thinking was is that the immigration issue, in part because Barack Obama and John McCain were not that far apart on the issue - had a far less intensity at the end of the year than it did at the beginning. But what is your view of the sort of issues that perhaps we did not pay as much attention to that the president-elect cannot afford to ignore going forward?
RUDIN: Before I go, though, just two things. If we're mentioning the historic nature of the 2008 election, don't forget people who spent their whole life trying to make this happen. Johnny Carr, 97 years old, who joined Rosa Parks in the bus boycott. She died this year. The Reverend James Orange, who was jailed prior to the Montgomery march. Two people of many people who gave their whole lives or spent their whole lives trying to make 2008 possible.
: Well said. Thank you for that. Pam Gentry, final thought from you.
GENTRY: I think that one of the things we have to really look at is the whole thing of race relations, and I also want to say the thing about the political landscape. There are a lot of people who haven't run for office, who haven't taken on that public service road because they didn't think they could win. Whether it was a county council seat, a city council seat or go up against an incumbent for Congress. I think that the landscape is going to increase. It's going to be because of Hillary Clinton and because of Barack Obama's successes. And I think we're going to see a lot of new faces join the political landscape in the coming year.
: Well, these are not new faces that I am happy to have with us at our table, and we hope you'll join us again in the new year. Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you for your contributions to the program throughout the course of the year and hopefully in the coming year. Thank you all.
FOUKARA: Thanks, Michel.
GENTRY: It's a pleasure.
RUDIN: Happy New Year.
MABRY: Happy New Year.
: Pam Gentry is senior political analyst and blogger for BET. Abderrahim Foukara is the Washington bureau chief for Al Jazeera International. They were both kind enough to join me in our Washington, D.C. studios. Also with us from New York, Marcus Mabry, the international business editor for the New York Times. And joining us from his own office, NPR senior political analyst Ken Rudin. Thanks again.
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