An immigration package, he said, should improve border security, penalize companies that purposely hire illegal workers and provide ‘‘a pathway for legal status for those who are living in this country, are not engaged in criminal activity, are here to, simply to work.’’
Similar ambitions proved impossible for Bush, McCain and scores of other politicians. It’s unclear whether Obama’s re-election can provide enough impetus to overcome the many hurdles still facing the quest.
Obama’s success in dealing with immigration and other issues will depend partly on how much partisan anger results from the fiscal cliff showdown and whether the economy continues to recover in 2013 and beyond. Setbacks on these fronts or others could force Obama to play political small-ball, as many people accused President Bill Clinton of doing in his second term, dominated by scandal.
If ever there’s a time for a president to aim high, it’s immediately after his election to a second and final term. And so Obama joked with reporters Wednesday, hinted at economic compromises without making specific concessions and lashed out at critics of his ambassador to the United Nations.
‘‘I want a big deal,’’ Obama said.
He was referring to resolving the fiscal cliff. The sentiment, however, might apply to his entire presidency, which just doubled in length, promising all sorts of possibilities and challenges from now until January 2017.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Charles Babington covers Congress and politics for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cbabington .
An AP News Analysis