If the president wins a second term, he could leave no greater legacy than a corruption-free capital.
If markets are to be believed, the Republicans are headed for a trouncing in November. Intrade and the Iowa Presidential Futures market both report a bump after the GOP convention -- in exactly the wrong direction for the GOP. The current winner-take-all price on the Iowa exchange is 66 percent -- for the president. And all that was before the President's wife wowed America with a vision of just how incredible she (and he) are.
So what does Obama do now? History has given him an extraordinary opportunity to do something he said he would do four years ago, but which he has not yet begun. Yet too many around him seem to forget what he promised, and too many seem to miss just why that promise is so important.
Four years ago, Obama's campaign focused on "change." But not just the change described in Michael Grunwald's book The New New Deal. (And to pretend it was that sort of change alone would be The New Newspeak.) As well as calling for the "change" of sensible, substantive policies, Obama told us again and again that we needed to "change our politics."
[I]f we do not change our politics -- if we do not fundamentally change the way Washington works -- then the problems we've been talking about for the last generation will be the same ones that haunt us for generations to come.
Likewise, in D.C., just about a year later:
But let me be clear -- this isn't just about ending the failed policies of the Bush years; it's about ending the failed system in Washington that produces those policies. For far too long, through, both Democratic and Republican administrations, Washington has allowed Wall Street to use lobbyists and campaign contributions to rig the system and get its way, no matter what it costs ordinary Americans.
Again, in South Carolina, January 2008:
We are up against the belief that it's all right for lobbyists to dominate our government -- that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we're not going to let them stand in our way anymore.
Indianapolis, April, 2008:
[U]nless we're willing to challenge the broken system in Washington, and stop letting lobbyists use their clout to get their way, nothing else is going to change.
And Philadelphia, that same month:
If we're not willing to take up that fight, then real change -- change that will make a lasting difference in the lives of ordinary Americans -- will keep getting blocked by the defenders of the status quo.
"The reason I'm running," he said in Indianapolis, "is to challenge that system."