Taking to the world's biggest bully pulpit

President Barack Obama waves after his Inaugural speech at the ceremonial swearing-in on the West Front of the US Capitol There are podiums, and then there is this...

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.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    34.DenverGuest: A growing number see your 'efforts to educate' as bullying by the privileged thin. I suggest you read up on the social justice model of 'fatness' (vs medicalised 'obesity'). Many people don't prioritise health, but aren't subjected to a witchhunt. 'Health' merely lets fat-phobes justify aesthetic / moral bias. Don't bully us, give us OPTIONS - then leave us to choose them or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    No president including Bush takes office not wanting to avoid war.

    No president takes office thinking he will compromise his agenda.

    Circumstances force war upon them and they learn to compromise if they want to get anything done at all. Nobody entirely has his own way in Amreican government. That's hte nature of our democracy.

  • Comment number 36.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    re. #12.barryp:
    "If the USA has rules to separate state from religion, why did yesterdays proceedings have such a religious involvement?"

    The Constitutional prohibition against an established religion such was never intended to prohibit all expression of religion from public life, it was to prevent people from being taxed to support an official church as had happened under English rule.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    'Progressives' can be every bit as unpleasant to those they dislike.
    You're kidding, right? Obesity is a medical condition leading to a host of chronic and sometimes deadly ailments. To characterize an effort to educate as "dislike" for the effected group is beyond silly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Democrats should not rest on their laurels. The evil Republican Empire are even now trying to rig the 2016 elections through their "Redmap" program, aimed at taking the white house even if they lose the popular vote. This is the same ploy they used to retain congress.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Obama is for me the least worst option but nothing to get excited about. By forcing people to buy health insurance 'Obamacare' benefits the plan providers more than the public. Would his immigration reforms make it easier for me to live in the US with my American wife? No, because they're about buying the Hispanic vote. And his wife has made her name by bullying fat people: not big, nor clever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    27 - The past 4 years has shown us all that reaching a compromise with the GOP is impossible because the party is so divided and the opposing forces will not allow any compromise with each other, let alone the opposition
    Reaching compromise on any legislation in the House of Reps is impossible
    Pres Obama will need to find a way around the "Do Nothing's" who the Speaker of the House cannot control

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Obama (those that pull his strings) has just carried on the same old policies of a war mongering, debt laden regime.

    The world can see what dangerous, peace hating bunch of thugs are running the US government.

    How many more countries are they going to ruin?

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    "a group of people 'enraged' by gay citizens could actually have governed America... ignoring the fundamental right of all to be free and equal".
    Agree with this but ask anyone who happens to be fat if BO / MO's anti-obesity rhetoric has benefited them or just resulted in more stigma, scapegoating and hatred. 'Progressives' can be every bit as unpleasant to those they dislike.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    I heard this, live on TV in Canada, and felt privileged to do so. It was stirring, impressive, and so full of home truths, that it was a refreshing reminder of the importance of their Declaration of Independence and how to put those lofty ideals into practice. I pray he succeeds. US citizens are blessed to have such leadership.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Now that the Liberal orgy of self congratulation over the inauguration is over perhaps the president and his party can get down to the serious business of passing a budget before the economy goes over the fiscal cliff. That will be a serious test of his leadership skills and ability to compromise with the opposition, lets hope he's equal to the task.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Why do American Presidents seem to fear the electorate so much that they only do the stuff they were elected to do in the 2nd term?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    The people of the U$A being properly represented is a new concept to the GOP
    They are all in the Lobby Group Bubble which leads them to believe they are representing the people by favoring business needs over the needs of the people
    The millions of dollars they get 1 way or another from Corps & Super PACs to do their bidding has destroyed their moral compass

    They sold out "We the People"

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Our Forefathers formed the vision of Government of the People, by the People & for the People by Check & Balance where no one Party or Branch of Government will dictate by working by Partisan Leading from the Center. The person in the Oval Office is President for all of us & deserves our support to achieve the Above with the Main Stream Media serving the People & not Partisan Politics

  • Comment number 23.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Pres Obama has achieved so much for the citizens/voters
    He sees the people have not been properly represented in years past & has decided that he is going to give "The People" a voice
    He has high approval ratings for Gun Control and mental health
    He has high approval ratings among women, gays and immigrants
    I believe he will improve the living standards of the majority
    by representing the majority

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    President Obama knows he has the support of the majority
    He won that majority because so many voters have reached a point of disgust with congressional partisan politics
    The majority have also seen their standard of living fall over the past 15 to 20 years due to the out of control profits demanded by Banks and Health Insurance
    The GOP have always believed in the "free market" but stacked the deck

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Hot air from a man in denial about America's massive economic debt and mounting problems abroad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Re: 7. He achieved very little indeed in his first term.
    You must surely be living in a well! Here is a start:
    * Health Care Reform
    * Wall Street Reform
    * Ended war in Iraq. Drawdown started in Afghanistan
    * Saved auto industry
    * Repealed DADT
    * Obliterated OBL


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