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Opinion: Obama: ‘Nothing succeeds like success in this town.’

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You can see it in his step. Also in his eyes.

Sometime after winning what Vice President Biden called a ‘big ... deal’ victory on healthcare, Barack Obama embraced the presidency with a new vigor, almost as if he understood that his time in office was finite. Fourteen months into his administration, newly empowered by a historic achievement that had eluded past presidents, Obama has grabbed the power that comes with the job.

In international affairs, he has turned from wowing global audiences to laying down the law to foreign leaders in one-on-one meetings. He told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. He told Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai that corruption is undermining his government and endangering U.S. troops.

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At home, he has signaled that he has no plans to pocket his victory and revel in its shine. In interviews and actions, he is making clear that he intends to spend the bounce he got from healthcare to tackle other difficult political issues such as immigration, education and financial reform. Reagan White House Communications Director Pat Buchanan, would no doubt agree. He once told me in an interview that political capital is like financial capital -- if you don’t invest it, you tend to lose it.

The healthcare victory also seems to have increased Obama’s appreciation for his predecessors, George W. Bush included. “Having sat in the Oval Office as president, I am much more sympathetic to all presidents generally,” Obama told NBC’s Matt Lauer in a wide-ranging interview that aired Tuesday. “What is true is that there are big, tough decisions that you make, and you know that unless you try to avoid those problems, whatever you decide is going to make some people happy and some people unhappy.”

Mostly, he is expressing confidence about taking the reins of power, telling Lauer that he will succeed ‘If we can demonstrate as an administration, that regardless of what the everyday news cycle is showing ... it’s possible to stick to your convictions.’

After all, he added, ‘Nothing succeeds like success in this town.’'


-- Johanna Neuman

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