The Blog

The Obama Legacy

Can Barack Obama, like Abraham Lincoln rise above the rancor and lead America into prosperity and peace and find a common ground before he leaves office, still a very young man?

This weekend inauguration festivities will be in full swing here in Washington DC for Barack Obama's second inaugural.

As I have been saying, there is more at stake for Barack Obama, America and the World now in 2013 than there was four years ago.

As in the film Lincoln - Stephen Spielberg's masterful rendition of Doris Kearns-Goodwin's inspiring book Team of Rivals - brought to life by Daniel Day-Lewis' chilling portrayal of our sixteenth president - we have come to another crossroads in America.

This last contentious election, as during the Civil War, has left this country even more divided - with half of its citizens now realising their vision of America is fading away.

More fighting, less governing and constant campaigning will be the watch phrases as president Obama takes his oath of office before America and the world on Monday, 21 January.

Can Barack Obama, like Abraham Lincoln rise above the rancor and lead America into prosperity and peace and find a common ground before he leaves office, still a very young man?

The Speech

This will be Barack Obama's last real opportunity to publicly put down his historical marker detailing what he wishes his legacy to be.

With few exceptions - FDR, JFK and Ronald Reagan - most presidential inaugural addresses do not strike a profound chord that resonates throughout history.

Like JFK, the first Catholic president, Obama has a story to tell not only as the first black president but as the first president elected by the new American demographic - a coalition of minorities.

As with John F. Kennedy the torch has once again been passed to a 'new generation of Americans' that does not look or sound like previous ones or in fact, share their values.

With his second term officially in full swing there will be a 'new' however visibly more mature president Barack Obama taking that oath of office.

Instead of sitting back, taking it all in and trying to be the 'Conciliator-in-Chief' this newly elected Barack Obama is clearly intent on governing like a 'winner' and establishing his legitimacy once and for all.

This term is his chance to live up to the great expectations placed on him including a Nobel Prize which was awarded even before he had a chance to make his mark.

Although he has a very good speech writing team he often pens his own words - You can bet that will pretty much be the case on Monday at the US Capitol.

As public as this inaugural address may be, this will be a very private moment for this very private man.


The Cabinet

With his last Cabinet, President Obama selected what many referred to as a 'team of rivals' including his presidential primary opponent and now secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

This time his choices have been described as a 'band of brothers' much to the dismay of his female supporters.

This so called band includes two outspoken Vietnam Veterans who were both heroes in that war, senators John Kerry and Chuck Hagel.

All of the Senior cabinet appointments have not been made yet so the president is likely to correct this perception in the remaining few weeks by appointing some high powered women to the remaining cabinet posts.

Also, don't forget that president Obama's two closest confidants, who have his ear and also have his back are women - first lady Michelle Obama and senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.

The Republicans are not thrilled with president Obama's choices for secretary of defense; Chuck Hagel or secretary of treasury; Jack Lew.

However they cannot battle every choice and my guess is their Republican Leadership will tell them to focus on Hagel - an Iraq War skeptic.

It seems that some of the George W Bush neo-cons - Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Bill Kristol, Richard Perle, Dan Senor, etc. - are already waging war against former Nebraska Senator Hagel.

This is a true battle royal for them since Hagel does not share their post 9-11 philosophy.

They need to be careful here since it is not clear that the war-weary US public, after years of two costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, shares their view on the wisdom of preemptive wars.

Hagel has also been criticized for his 'weak' support of Israel and for comments he made about an openly gay nominee for an Ambassador post in the Clinton Administration.

The battle over the Hagel nomination is really a 'proxy war' for control of the Republican Party.

Hagel represents the 'old style' wing of the Republican Party that we last saw with George HW Bush, Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage - And he is indeed being challenged by the GW Bush neo-cons and the like minded.

Odds are still good that Hagel will be confirmed unless he dramatically fails to give an impressive presentation before his former colleagues in the US Senate.

The confirmation hearings for John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and Jack Lew will all be televised.

Aside from the important question of diversity, what Obama's choices say about his second term is that he wants close allies who share his world view by his side to help him shape his second term agenda and his legacy.

This post also appears on Sky News.