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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style