Since his party’s devastating defeat at the midterm elections, he is more determined than ever. Finally, he is prepared to move forward with his unfulfilled goals.
I mean, it's been just a week and he has announced that the United States and China had agreed to a historic climate change treaty. He made it relatively clear that if the Senate passed the bill authorizing him to make a decision on the Keystone pipeline, he would veto it. Then, he announced he would use his executive power to provide protection to 4-5 million undocumented immigrants.
For some time now Obama's supporters have become more and more disillusioned with him because he has pushed aside the big issues and adhered to a pragmatic centrism that has damaged his presidency, the White House, as well as his party.
This President now has one last chance to get it right. He is not the first president to try to a makeover as the clock runs out on his presidency. The most recent example was Ronald Reagan. In his last year in the White House, he transformed himself from being the most hawkish of the Cold War Republicans into the person who brokered a major arms agreement with the Soviet Union.
Is Obama going to attempt the same in his final two years in office?
The opportunity awaits him. On immigration, the executive order will go a long way in that regard. While the order will surely incite anti-immigration hard-liners, it will mark a clear commitment from this president regarding the plight of illegal immigrants.
On the issue of climate change he seemed to not have the political strength to make any progress. Suddenly, he is using the power that he does have to try to move this issue front and center. The treaty with China is a huge breakthrough. Refusal to authorize the Keystone pipeline is something that means a great deal to environmental activists as well.
Of course, it will take much more to provide evidence that Obama is serious about changing the legacy of his presidency. Too often has he backed down in the face of political pressure.
In the time he has left in the White House, he will have to fight for the middle class. He can focus on increasing support for public universities and pushing for higher infrastructure funding. He has to do more to respond to the underlying economic anxiety in the electorate as too many Americans struggle with low wages and job insecurity.
Up until now most of the homeland security program has remained intact and the President has not done much to restore the balance between security and civil liberties. The President has shown some signs that he can be true to the values of his party and the policies that he once promised would define his presidency. Hopefully he will deliver.
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