U.S. Presidential Transition (2009)

Six keys to Obama's second term

Presidential second terms have a bad name. The traditional view is that presidents are stuck with first-term leftovers on their plates and a calendar that calls on them to get any legislation through Congress in the first 18 to 24 months. After that, few in Congress listen because the chief executive's time in office is limited.

President George W. Bush discovered the limits of his authority with his signature second term legislative efforts on Social Security and then immigration reform. President Bush made little progress gathering support for personal retirement accounts for Social Security, despite five months spent campaigning for the program in 2005; in the end, he refocused...