The second Obama

Many of the president's plans will need to be fleshed out. Some will require Congressional action. But some of what the president proposed can be accomplished through executive action. And this president made clear once again that he would act where he could if Congress refused to act. For instance, he said: "I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."

And the president defied political cowards, some in his own party, and called for a vote on gun control legislation, including an assault weapons ban. The president said: "It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans ó Americans who believe in the Second Amendment ó have come together around common-sense reform ó like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because these police chiefs, they are tired of seeing their guys and gals being outgunned. Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that's your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun."

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