First there is the access to Plan B over the counter by minors. The administration really slow walked this one, for no apparent political or scientific reason. It does not hurt kids to use it. Those who need it at age 14 are likely the ones who can't go to their parents. He was never going to win the votes of those who are opposed to contraception as a matter of principle.
But at the end of the day, Plan B is now available over the counter to everyone.
Secondly, there is greenhouse gas emissions. Obama intends to use the Clean Air Act and the EPA to make major changes in our emissions. It will be done quietly, out of the limelight and without the ability of the GOP House to obstruct.
Then there is immigration reform. Obama can't lead on this issue, because if he does, it becomes an Obama initiative and the GOP will rally around opposing it. So he has to lead from behind on what is arguably the most important legislative initiative of his second term.
But at the end of the day, if immigration reform passes and the EPA reduces CO2, Obama will have addressed three of the biggest problems facing America: global warming, illegal immigration and those with out health insurance.
It's not like he's going to get credit for any of it. Obamacare will be a lightning rod for another ten years, before the GOP finally gives up and accepts it. Immigration will be focused on Congressional leadership and will likely be (like Obamacare) a series of half measures and compromises. Climate change may always be a case of too little, too late.
But he will be able to say in 2017, that he fundamentally changed American domestic policy. (Maybe he can give the whole Grand Bargain thing a rest for now.)
He also will have withdrawn us from Iraq and Afghanistan. He will have ended DADT and put America on a glide path towards marriage equality.
When Obama said he "welcomed the debate" on the NSA stuff (I refuse to call it a scandal until there is evidence of law breaking), I have to wonder if this isn't more slow motion revolution.
First, of course, we have to understand what is really going on with PRISM and the phone monitoring. Right now, I'm not agog at any of the revelations, but the potential for abuse is there. But will this debate lead to a fundamental change in the various PATRIOT Act intrusions on civil liberties? Will his speech a few weeks ago signal a shift in the use of drones?
In the media - and perhaps even more in the blogosphere - there is a tendency to get lost in the moment. What is happening NOW is the most important thing EVAH!!11!!
Bill Clinton is more popular than ever. Even Dubya has slipped into a plurality approval rating (must be the paintings).
But it will be interesting to look back on the Obama Administration from 2020 and beyond.
I think we will see these eight years as dramatically altering the course of American politics.