Taking to the world's biggest bully pulpit
- 22 January 2013
- From the section US & Canada
The US president rounded off his second and last inauguration day with the troops, at the commander-in-chief's ball.
Even here, speaking down a link to soldiers in Afghanistan, his mind was on the home front - assuring them they would be looked after when they came home, given a heroes' welcome.
He does not want any new foreign wars, but he has signalled he is ready for a series of monumental fights at home.
He has used the biggest bully pulpit he will ever get to punch home a feisty message that contained not an ounce of compromise.
When Teddy Roosevelt, who was president from 1901-09, spoke of the White House "bully pulpit" he didn't mean "bully" as in "pushing people around", but simply the old-fashioned sense of "fantastic", enormous" and "unbeatable".
President Barack Obama seems to agree this ability to preach to a nation is the source of his power, really his biggest weapon.
Fire in the belly
His speech has delighted most supporters, linking their philosophy - liberal, progressive, call it what you like - with America's most cherished values.
The framework of the speech was the argument that the ringing words of the founding fathers find real expression in his values.
But it was more than abstract argument. For anyone who has missed it so far, his re-election has put fire in the president's belly.
Gone were the aspirations of 2009 for a new, harmonious, purple politics where men and women put aside partisan politics and seek common ground.
Once more he punched home his priorities: immigration reform, protecting the elderly and the sick, investing in schools and roads and gun control.
His shout out for "gay brothers and sisters" has enraged conservatives.
Adding climate change to his already long "to do" list shows this man does not expect a quiet life.
As he sat down, supporters were getting emails urging them to join a new campaign, not this time to win an election, but to fulfil its promise.
It is not easy to see how even the most enthusiastic support of Democrats earns him Republican votes in the House - perhaps by dividing moderates off from the rest in the face of public opinion; perhaps it's about the mid-terms in 2014.
But this president is loving the bully pulpit and he is not about to climb down.