Editorial: Second term of new ideas, old problems

Jan. 22, 2013 @ 07:07 PM

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander accurately described one of the proudest moments of being an American Monday amid the inauguration festivities in Washington.

“There is no mob, no coup, no insurrection. This is a moment when millions stop and watch,” Alexander said.
Indeed, millions watched, soaked in the red, white and blue glory, and listened for a word spoken to each of us. We took pride in the peaceful event attended by hundreds of thousands that overtook our broadcast airwaves and filled all the trendy spots of our cyber world and its various social identities.

The pageantry is resplendent, but the substance is what matters. Leaders can come together in a historic hall for a lunch, and speak of the time of fresh starts and glad-handing opposing party members. But real issues remain.

The president’s second term begins full of new ideas and old problems. How each affects us, and how he is able to lead with each, will determine his legacy when he exits in four years.

Three deadlines related to the country’s fiscal health are calendared before our azaleas bloom. The House of Representatives is expected to vote today on raising the debt ceiling. Budget cuts are coming.

President Obama on Monday backed spending on entitlement programs, immigration reform, gay marriage, tax reform, laws to make voting easier and attention to climate change.

Events of the past 10 days put terrorism in North Africa onto the president’s plate. He already was preparing to finalize a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan.

Gun control rose in priority with the December elementary school shooting in Connecticut. Health care reform will continue to move forward, with various individual state challenges sure to muddle the picture.

He’ll face all of it with a divided Congress straying from the needed middle and influenced greatly by the far sides of party politics. And he will face it in belief that Americans don’t think government is the total solution.

The president said, “We have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”

We wish the president well in his second term, fully understanding the better he performs, so too will we.