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Obama's Road Forward

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WASHINGTON -- My boss, the wonderful Arianna Huffington, asked me to summarize the essence of the week-long, in-depth series we're running on HuffPost about the challenges President Obama faces in his second term. This is what I told her for her appearance on Morning Joe. I figured that it was worth passing my take on to our readers:

President Obama's achievements in his first term -- and there were important ones -- were either defensive or provisional: helping to save the global banking and credit system and the auto industry; beginning the process of unwinding mistaken wars; enacting health care reform and banking regulation laws that will be meaningless if they aren't properly and forcefully put into effect by the Obama administration.

Now he needs to build new and real things that tangibly improve the lives of the middle class and, yes, the poor; and advance the ball on the things he says he also cares about: the environment, immigration, education, tech, etc, plus figuring out what his consistent view is of foreign and defense policy.

With the GOP in disarray and weak, Obama has an historically atypical chance (for a second-termer) to get things done -- if he has the will, focus and savvy to really follow through.

If he does, he will justify his ranking as one of only eight presidents to win two terms by more than 50 percent of the popular vote. But that only happens if he makes more of a difference for the good in the lives of average folks than he has done so far.