(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama begins his second term this week with reporters across the country attempting to size up the lessons from his first.
In assessing his first four years, however, the media are failing to address how much big money has become a reactionary force in American politics. Obama isn't just the first incumbent president forced to deal with a Citizens United election system; he's also faced unprecedented intransigence from America's largest corporations, a K Street culture in DC that seduces the brightest minds with bags of cash, and lobbyists more eager than ever to take policy battles to the grassroots.
The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, says the young president is now aware of "how violently the political pendulum can swing." The conventional wisdom is that Obama came into office with sky-high approval ratings and a popular mandate; spent that political capital on a bruising health reform fight; failed to uphold expectations from his base and lost the House of Representatives in the midterm campaign; then, rallied from the low point of the debt ceiling negotiations to a commanding re-election campaign last year.