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President Barack Obama Photo by: Bloomberg

Barack Obama goes for broke - President’s legacy is still in the making at the start of his second term

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President Barack Obama Photo by: Bloomberg

It appears that President Obama is really going to go for it this time. Four years ago he inherited a country in dire straits, two wars, heading for bankruptcy and people in the foulest mood imaginable.

Four years later the stock exchange had a record day shortly before his inauguration, and many of the signs point up.

The mood of the country is still split between those who are coming around to believing things are better, and those who still believe dark days lie ahead. Call it a 50/50 split.

We read that pro golfer Phil Mickleson is thinking of quitting the U.S. because of high taxes on the $47 million he acquired last year, and we wonder what planet he lives on if he thinks he is doing badly.

The super rich are fine, but it is those in between and all the way to the bottom who are still struggling.

President Reagan made it a point of attacking government by saying the era of big government was over. Obama has made the opposite point by saying that government is still very relevant to people’s lives.

Both are right in different ways. Reagan was railing against the massive bureaucracies that run so many government departments and make life impossible for many dealing with them.

Obama was making the point that government programs such as Medicare and Social Security have made people’s lives considerably better and allowed them to contemplate old age without the stark fear that older generations did.

Obama’s speech on Monday was a clear call to the less well off and powerless that he knows their pain and would deal with them as best he could.

In that respect the speech was a clear slap at the “get government out of our lives” brigade who dominate much of the Republican zeitgeist these days.

This was not a conciliatory inaugural speech. Rather it was a call to arms from Obama, a speech that will resonate heavily with his base.

Obama made clear he would deal directly with issues that are anathema to many Republicans such as gun control and immigration reform.

Those were brave stances from the president, but fine rhetoric on inauguration day often turn to mush even before January turns.

Obama was reminding us all that elections have consequences, that the choices between him and GOP challenger Mitt Romney were stark indeed, and that the ultimate winner had the right to pursue policies that would make him less than popular with the 48 percent who did not vote for him.

Obama is a remarkable story, son of an immigrant and 18-year-old unmarried mother who has made it to the presidency of the United States on two occasions.

His legacy is still in the making, and if he delivers on his inauguration speech promises it will be a remarkable one, remaking health care, transforming the gun issue, brining about immigration reform and federalizing gay marriage.

On the other hand, he must realize he is president of all the people, not just those who voted for him, and that such change must come in consultation with, not in spite of, those who oppose him.

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