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Into The Spotlight

After four years of economic sputtering, one of the most rancorous campaigns in recent memory, a near-death experience on the debate stage in Denver.

After four years of economic sputtering, one of the most rancorous campaigns in recent memory, a near-death experience on the debate stage in Denver, and weeks of breathless advice from cable kibitzers about what he should do in his second term now that he’s got one, Barack Obama finally parted the curtains on the western front of the US. Capitol and strode into the cold Washington, D.C., sunlight last Monday-his second inaugural address in hand and wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia in tow. As many as 1 million citizens were shivering on the National Mall.

Much was made in the media of how that number had shrunk since 2009, but while the crowd was smaller, the stakes seemed higher somehow. Tn 2009 no one knew what an Obama Era would look like. Now we all do: a steady march of real (if often compromised or incremental) progressive reforms. The emotion on Monday reflected this knowledge. The right knew that it had lost its last best chance to undo the Obama Era; the left knew what it had won. So too did Obama: four more years to preserve and extend the pragmatic, we’re in this together liberalism of his first term in office. So when he spoke, he made his intentions clearer than ever before. “We have always under¬ stood … that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges,” he said. “That preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.” In other words: I won. Now let me govern.

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