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

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before