With our own news again dominated this morning by MPs doing and sayings things they shouldn’t be, once again Barack Obama is able to remind us that politics at its best is always the pursuit of noble causes.
As if he does not have enough riding on his back, President Obama’s success or failure in office will have implications for politics around the world.
Few leaders come to power with the global goodwill and the energy of hope that propelled him into the White House. As in life, so in politics, the higher the expectations, the greater the disappointment if they are not fully met. It is therefore in the interests of democratic politics everywhere that he succeeds, sufficient to win again. One term will not be enough to deliver all the change he promised. But the healthcare reform bill is a start.
To British people raised on the NHS, one of the most popular ‘brands’ known to man, the bitterness of the US healthcare debate seems odd, even a bit scary, certainly a reminder that whatever binds our countries together, there remain very big differences too.
So as he signs the reforms into law today, nobody should underestimate the scale of change he has brought about with this bill, even if it does not do everything he set out to do before the poetry of his campaign was turned into the prose of government. (copyright Mario Cuomo).
But the real political significance may be in what it said about Obama’s political character … he just kept going.
Some of the disappointment there has been in some quarters about Obama stems from the fact that he appeared in government to be less strategic, less decisive, less of a leader than he had been on the campaign trail.
But his dogged determination on health, and the political and communications skills he showed along the way, have brought that original version of Obama back to the fore.
That now bodes well for some of the other huge challenges he has set himself, whether climate change, reform of Wall Street, peace in the Middle East.
Just as his Presidency has been energised by this victory, so of course have his opponents who now think they have an even bigger stick with which to beat the Democrats in the mid-term elections.
There may even be a negative impact upon his party’s vote as a result. The good news is that he will just keep going, knowing that over time a good argument can beat even the rabble-rousing of the US Right, whatever the noise and the setbacks along the way.
* Buy The Blair Years here and raise cash for Labour http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php.