President Obama's first term was weighed down with expectations and the public's "illusions"—not to mention a need for reelection. Despite his achievements on health care, two wars, and the economy, he couldn't solve "our national political distemper," writes EJ Dionne in the Washington Post. He had hoped to be president of a truly "united" States, but we ended up arguing "even on the question of how hard Obama worked to put discord aside."
Now, however, Obama has been elected twice with a majority of the popular vote, joining Andrew Jackson and Franklin Roosevelt as the only Democrats to do so. And the lost illusions of Obama's role as "national political healer" will free him to take firmer action. "Tempered by the struggles of his first term, he now seems more at ease declaring exactly what he is for and what he is seeking to achieve," Dionne writes. "An Obama less burdened by what he was supposed to be has a far better chance of being the president he hoped to be." Click for Dionne's full column. (Read more President Obama stories.)