Now, with the coming retirement of a Supreme Court justice clearing the way for him to appoint a successor, Obama already is assured a legacy at the top of all three branches of government -- executive, legislative and judicial.
On the corporate front, the federal government's pumping of billions of dollars in bailout money into banks and auto companies has given Obama the power to force an overhaul in those industries, a remarkable intervention in capitalist industries by the state.
Americans are giving him leeway as well. His job approval ratings are well over 60 percent, giving him political capital to undertake big challenges.
His political opponents, the Republicans, are in disarray, reduced in numbers and engaged in an internal struggle over how to recover from devastating election losses in 2006 and last year.
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