Obama hoping for last-minute slam dunk

Barack Obama plays basketball Image copyright Getty Images

With a good deal of pomp and ceremony, the new Congress is being sworn in today, but what Washington is talking about is the raw politics.

For the first time in eight years, the Republicans will assume full control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, making life even more difficult for the Democratic President in the White House.

Or at least, that is the received wisdom. It's certainly true there are going to be clashes with President Obama.

An early one is likely to be on the Keystone oil pipeline which would stretch from Canada down to the Gulf Coast - rejected in the past by the president on environmental grounds, supported by Republicans for its job creation potential.

But even with the White House threatening a veto, there is a whiff of Keystone compromise in the air.

The Republicans, with one eye fixed on the 2016 presidential elections, will want to prove to the American people that they're fit to govern.

And the president, with an equally fixed stare on his legacy, will be impatient to get things done.

The White House spokesman chose a basketball metaphor.

He said President Barack Obama is now starting the fourth quarter of his presidency - and added a lot can change in the fourth quarter of a game.

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