Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Obama's Fresh Embrace With History

President Barack Obama begins his second term of office today when, in a private session, he will be sworn in. Because January 20 is a Sunday, the official public inauguration will take place on January 21. The inauguration ceremony will be a high point for the Democratic PartyHe would be returning to the White House after scoring a landslide victory over his Republican rival, Mitt Romney to continue the governance of a deeply divided country, often called the world's policeman.

Although his new four-year term retains a partisan-rich capital, where Republicans retained their majority in the House and Democrats kept their control of the Senate, his second and final term would be judged by how, given a second chance, he addresses the country's fiscal cliff, mends the fractured nation, positions the country's foreign policy and close up the widening divisions among the various primordial tendencies in the world sole super power.

The fact remains that he is yet to tackle the country's meltdown satisfactorily. He had vowed to address it in 2008, but the fact is that the US record deficits have deepened after his four years.

After the briefest of celebrations, President Obama will have to pivot to the looming fiscal cliff of scheduled tax hikes and spending cuts, otherwise, the country would veer back into recession.

The political genius of the Democrats emerge more in difficult times. Franklin Roosevelt and lately Bill Clinton are some of America's greatests. It is also a challenge for Obama that he is presently ranked among America's 20 greatest leaders in all history. His election last November is unarguably, a greater political achievement than his first presidential victory. Obama's re-election extends his place in history - carrying the tenure of America's first black president into a second term.

After a close campaign in the last general elections in which his challenger, Republican Mitt Romney gave him a run for his money and Romney accused Obama of bribing the minorities in the country to get votes, it was a pointer to nail-biting contest and super sweet but wafer-thin victory that the world again sees the US as the bastion of liberal democracy.

For now, the world expects that after the excruciating Bush years in which the world's strongest economic power was in decline because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama would steer the ship of state in a new direction better than it is now. Like he promised during the inaugural in 2009:

Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered, these are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land, a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

'Today, I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met'.

Unfortunately, these aspirations were not met. The challenges after four years are that more jobs have been lost, and the economy had showed little or no sign of recovering.

In the history of the American presidency, only Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural speech was memorable. It is not for nothing that Lincoln's second inaugural speech is still regarded as the greatest inspirational speech any American president has made till date. Obama has the chance to better that record on Monday as he gives his second inaugural speech.

Obama is known for his rhetoric, elegantly crafted words, fervently delivered and inspiring in theatrics. His recent most notable one being his victory speech. He perhaps needs to make a greater speech than the greatest so far delivered by Lincoln to unify a divided country.

After his elections, some people in Texas voted to be seceded out of the country; he needs to use the address for the unification of the people and all the political class - both the Republicans and Democrats.

In his first term, the Republicans opposed all his policies - the Health Care programme popularly known as Obama Care. To be successful in his second term, he needs to bring them to his side or he needs to lay down the marker to the Republicans to shelve politics aside and help move the country forward.

President Obama needs to give hope to the American people beyond sweet words. His Obama care, roadmap to economic recovery, how to make America great again must be concrete and he should hit the ground running. He also needs to address the issue of arms control in the United States. The recent killings of some students and teachers in Connecticut, among other violent crimes, have brought to the fore the issue of gun control in the US.

President Barack Obama has begun to reshape his Cabinet at the start of his second term, elevating four of his long-time advisers to key positions. More changes are still to come, as officials step down after long tenures through stressful periods at top jobs.

The fate of Hillary Clinton is unknown. But Obama has faced criticism for his choices, in part because of past policy decisions and statements some have made, but also because he has so far named four white men to a Cabinet once lauded for its diversity.

A stress on foreign policy will be reinforced by a desire to establish a legacy. Previous presidents have often seen foreign policy initiatives as a key part of the legacy they wish to build. Obama needs to be reminded that the America pride is at stake and how he holds the Middle East crises and the crises of underdevelopment in Africa will impact on his place in history. Otherwise, all the hues and cries about globalisation would have come to naught.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2013 Leadership. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.