Eags' scouting report on the new and improved POTUS 44 has this blogger humming "Happy Days Are Here Again" as he prepares this post. If this is a (fair & balanced) report of viento en la espalda, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
By Timothy Egan
Tag Cloud of the following piece of writing
There may not be a lightness to his step, a lilt in his voice or a bit of jauntiness returned to his manner. The office ages everyone prematurely, and makes spontaneity all but impossible. But President Obama is acting like a man who’s been given the political equivalent of a testosterone boost.
Perhaps the best thing to happen to him was the crushing blow his party took in the midterm elections. Come January, Republicans will have their largest House majority in 84 years — since Herbert Hoover was president. Granted, no politician wants to join Hoover and history in the same sentence. But Obama is not cowering or conceding. He’s been liberated by defeat, becoming the president that many of his supporters hoped he would be.
He promised to be transformative. Instead, especially in the last two years, he’s been listless, passive, a spectator to his own presidency. Rather than setting things in motion, he reacted to events. Even Ebola, the great scare that prompted so much media hysteria it was awarded Lie of the Year by PolitiFact, was somehow his fault. No more. Of late, the president who has nothing to lose has discovered that his best friend is the future.
On  normalizing relations with Cuba,  on a surprising climate change initiative with China,  on an immigration gamble that’s working, and  executive orders to protect the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery in Alaska or  try to root out gender pay disparities, Obama is marching ahead of politicians fighting yesterday’s wars. In setting an aggressive agenda, he has forced opponents to defend old-century policies, and rely on an aging base to do it.
Are Republicans really going to spend the first year of their new majority trying to undo everything the president has done — to roll back the clock? Will they defend isolation of Cuba against the wishes of most young Cuban-Americans? Will they restore a family-destroying deportation policy, when Obama’s de-emphasis on sending illegal immigrants home has already given him a 15-point boost among Latinos? Will they take away health insurance from millions who never had it before? Will they insist that nothing can be done on climate change, while an agreement is on the table for the world’s two biggest polluters, the United States and China, to do something significant?
The President Obama of the last six weeks is willing to take that bet. The tediously cautious, adrift president who governed before his party was rejected in November never would have.
Of course, it helps to have the wind at his back — gusts of good news.
Remember when Mitt Romney promised to bring unemployment down to 6 percent by the end of his first term? Obama has done him one better: two years ahead of schedule, unemployment is 5.8 percent. The economy added 321,000 jobs last month and average hourly wages actually rose, on pace to make 2014 the best year for financially battered Americans in almost a decade. And if there’s a Republican somewhere who predicted that gas prices would be well below $3 a gallon in year six of the Obama presidency, bring that prescient pol forward.
Remember, also, the man-crush that Republicans had on Vladimir Putin? Ohhh, Vlad — such a leader! Forceful, militarily aggressive, a manly man. Obama the plodder was getting played by Putin the Great. Now, the Russian president better keep his shirt on, for his country is teetering, increasingly isolated, its currency in free fall. Plunging oil prices have shown just how fragile a nation dependent on oil can be.
And speaking of oil, the incoming Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has vowed, as one of his first orders of business, to push forward Keystone XL, the proposed pipeline to move Canada’s dirty oil though the American heartland. There’s one problem: With low energy prices, the pipeline may no longer pencil out. It’s a bust, potentially, in a free market awash with cheap oil.
With the Cuba opening, one of those events that seem obvious to all the minute it takes shape, the president has Pope Francis as a diplomatic co-conspirator. This leaves Republican opponents of fresh air in Havana lecturing the most popular man on the planet. Even after that all-dogs-go-to-heaven thing turned out to be something that was lost in translation, the pope’s blessing of the Cuba initiative will beat hot air from a half-dozen senators.
Obama’s trademark caution in a crisis still serves him well. He kept his head during the Ebola meltdown when everyone else was losing theirs. Had we gone jaw to jaw with Putin over Ukraine, rather than building the case for sanctions, the world would be far messier. But in finally learning how to use the tools of his office, Obama unbound is a president primed to make his mark. Ω
[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]
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