Commentary: Obama's New Second-Term Swagger

In his first post-re-election news conference, the president is more opinionated and forceful.

Posted: 11/16/2012 12:20 PM EST
Barack Obama

It’s perhaps one of the most overused words ever to enter the American English vernacular: swagger. And more times than not, the word is used inappropriately. But if you had the chance to see President Obama’s first post-election White House news conference, you were seeing the word “swagger” exemplified.

It had very little to do with the way he walked or talked or his style of dress.  The president’s swag during his first second-term presser was a testament to what appears to be a new attitude. He seemed to shrug off his excessively polite, methodical, careful demeanor for a more opinionated, forceful and at times abrupt manner.

No example showed off the president’s swag more than his approach to one question about whether he would deter from nominating U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to the Secretary of State post amid Republican threats to block her nomination because of her handling of the recent attacks in Benghazi.

The president was sure-footed and resolute in his defense of Rice saying, “Let me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work.  She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace.”

Critics had questioned whether a White House with such a reputation for putting only the most drama-free candidates before Congress would stand by Rice now that she finds herself in the hot seat.

But the most swagger-filled moment came shortly after President Obama’s defense of Rice when he gave the following retort: “As I’ve said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. Ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”

I, for one, was pretty amazed that the president would stare Congress in the face, gangster-style and dare them to come after him. In so many words, he said he’d take a bullet if he had to so that a trusted appointee would not have to take the fall.

Is this a new President Obama? Without fear of making a re-election snafu, has he found his new stride? And is he emboldened to be more declarative and get a little gangsta now that he has received a new mandate to govern? If his performance in his first press conference is any indication of how he will proceed during the second term, we could be seeing a new side of President Obama, one defined by a new, yet fitting incarnation of the word "swagger."

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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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