Tuesday 20 February 2018

Obama squares up for the biggest fight of his life

Health-care collapse, a key seat lost and now a battle with bankers. Toby Harnden reflects on a critical week for the US president

There was an ironic symmetry to the way in which Barack Obama's presidency was dealt such a blow this week. Suddenly, it was reduced to something so insubstantial that it mocked the grand ambitions of his campaign.

It was Senator Edward Kennedy's decision to support the then senator for Illinois that turned the tide in Obama's epic Democratic primary battle with Hillary Clinton. When the liberal lion of Massachusetts declared Obama to be the heir to Camelot, he became the kingmaker. And it was Kennedy's death that destroyed Obama's ambitious plan to become the first president in a generation to achieve health-care reform, which the kingmaker had described as his "life's work".

The Kennedy seat in Massachusetts, long regarded as the most liberal state in the union, should have been the safest in the 100-member Senate. That it fell to the Republicans on the eve of the anniversary of that heady inauguration day last January added a twist of cruelty for Obama.

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