Liberated from elections, Obama makes a change we might yet believe in

In Newtown, the President sounded like a leader reborn – but can he deliver?

Share
Related Topics

Buckle up because Barack Hussein Obama has just stumbled upon his old self, the man America fell in love with in the 2008 election race – the one who invoked Martin Luther King Jr, telling voters he would be driven as President by "the fierce urgency of now". Remember that phrase that offered such promise and passion?

We celebrated when he decreed the closing of Guantanamo Bay and promised to end the bi-partisan gridlock of Washington. We looked forward to his passing immigration reform and getting serious about climate change. Then Congress bogged him down and he grew timid.

Flickers of the old Obama who once thrilled us returned this year when he confessed his conversion on gay marriage and removed the threat of deportation from millions of young undocumented immigrants. Then he clobbered Mitt Romney and with re-election, got a second chance. He can't run again, of course, so are the fetters now off?

The trouble is that while they botched winning the White House and taking control of the Senate, the Republicans easily held on to the House of Representatives. Mr Obama does not have a free hand on passing new laws. Yet he won in November by a decent margin and surely he is stronger now than six weeks ago. You see it in his rising approval ratings – up to 55 per cent now – and in the defensive Republican posture in the negotiations to avoid new tax hikes and spending cuts.

Of course the quicksand could return quickly, particularly if the progress we think we see now on averting that dreaded 'fiscal cliff' falls apart. But if you watched Mr Obama give his speech to the inter-faith service in Newtown, Connecticut, on Sunday night lamenting last Friday's school massacre, you may have sensed what I did. It elicited sobs in that high school auditorium. My guess is that it drew tears in front rooms all across the land.

Whence has come that new power in the loins of the leader? Clearly, it had partly to do with the issue at hand – the slaying of 20 young children. Friday, he had said earlier, had been the hardest day of his presidency. Now that it is about children, the fight for gun control is not just a priority, it is an imperative.

The President is stronger too because the mood among Republicans has changed. After Mr Obama won the first time, the top Republican senator, Mitch McConnell, said denying him a second term should inform everything his party did. There's no need for such belligerence now. Republicans' hopes of winning back the White House in 2016 need not be dashed; Clinton Part II went well yet Al Gore lost in 2000.

So here's to the new, old Obama. It may be hoping for too much, but the next four years in US politics could be as exhilarating as that 2008 campaign.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Mid Software Developer

£21000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading indepen...

Recruitment Genius: Linux Systems Administrator

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Systems Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre Scho...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The world's population has reached 'peak youth'. A jobs crisis won't be far behind

Perry Maddox
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, arrives with his son Prince George at the Lindo Wing to visit his wife and newborn daughter at St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London, Britain, 02 May 2015  

Prince George's £18,000 birthday gift speaks volumes about Britain's widening wealth inequality

Olivia Acland
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'