Jack Tame: Election won, it's time to knuckle down to work


President for a day: oh, what fun that would be.

Perhaps you'd ban guns or crack down on Wall Street. Perhaps you'd check out what really happened in Roswell. Perhaps you'd be overcome by a spell of dictatorial dizziness, riding Airforce One to your gold-plated Ferrari before getting Nigella Lawson to cook a spot of dinner.

A friend reckons if he were US President, he'd beam free wireless internet across every inch of Planet Earth. How could al-Qaeda hate you then?

Of course, daydreams are cheap and simple and passing law isn't nearly that easy. As in the second half of his first term in the Presidential office, Barack Obama still faces a divided Congress and a Republican-held House of Representatives not particularly enthused about fast-tracking his dreams into law.

But tomorrow, as Obama takes the oath for another four years, a few bits and bobs play in the President's favour more so than any other time in the past few years.

Perhaps most importantly, he now definitively carries the weight of US public support.

The final count from November's election shows Obama won his second term in office by a surprisingly comfortable margin.

By the Electoral College count, he won by more than Bush beat Kerry, and he won the popular vote by more than five million ballots. Claims to political mandates have been lodged with far less impressive figures.

And have you noticed how no one gives a hoot about Mitt Romney these days?

Funny that. The man has quietly melted into a milky puddle of political oblivion, as the Republican Party works to adjust its image from his failed campaign.

America is shifting left, and the game of political chicken before the so-called fiscal cliff proved Republican politicians may have finally reached a point of greater willingness to reach the occasional compromise.

Best of all, of course, Obama no longer needs to give a toss about his popularity. This time there's no re-election campaign to worry about in four years' time.

He can quadruple taxes, reinstate prohibition and flip the bird to every lobbyist in the country and he'll still be President of the US.

So with that in mind, it's time to sort the big stuff. Obama's to-do list has a few notable ticks: healthcare reform has passed, a war in Iraq has ended and Osama bin Laden is dead.

But meaningful gun control still needs to get over the line. Guantanamo Bay is still open for business and immigration needs a complete rethink.

If ambitions are unfettered by political nitty-gritty and his dreams are as big as his talk, Obama has the opportunity to instil change that will cement his political greatness.

The seas are rising, America's warming and, despite some mighty big campaign promises in 2008, Obama has so far done almost nothing about it. Last year was the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States.

To represent great change is one thing. To achieve it is quite another. But what grander goal can exist for a modern President in improving his country and planet, than to do just that?

- Herald on Sunday

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