WASHINGTON (CNN) - With the departure of President George W. Bush, Republicans have a new rallying cry: "Back to basics!"
Nothing is more basic to the Republican philosophy than smaller government, a principle many Republicans believe got lost at the end of the Bush administration.
"President Bush in the last few months has opened up the door to Mr. Obama's big-government activism," Ken Blackwell said earlier this month.
Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state, is one of six candidates running for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - This was a "cool" speech, not a rouser. That is the quality Americans admire most in Obama - he’s cool and reassuring at a time of great anxiety. Everything will be O.K. We can get through this. But it demands something from all of us: "What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A dramatic moment - noting that 60 years ago, his father could not have been served in segregated Washington. Those of us who grew up in the segregated South understand the amazing significance of this moment. We have lived to see the day.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The call to unity is very much Obama’s trademark –- reaching across barriers, ending "the recriminations and worn-out dogmas." That’s what he means by changing politics in Washington. And right away, he addresses some clear departures from the Bush approach.
A man holds a flag as he watches the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America.
The choice between safety and ideals is false, he says. Without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. There's a clear acknowledgment of the global warming crisis ("the way we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.")
He's one of the few modern Presidents who has reached out to "non-believers" as well as Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus.
"The world has changed, and we must change with it." His theme of "change" carried him through the campaign. Voters saw it as change from Bush. Now he is using it to call for big policy changes, calling this "a moment that will define a generation" - very much like Kennedy in 1961.
"Remaking America" - no small ambition, starting with the literal reconstruction of our infrastructure. He has "big plans" –- and a big crisis that can help him carry them through.
But still, there's an overriding realism. His answer to the old partisan debate: "The question is not whether our government is too big or small, but whether it works." It’s the pragmatist’s answer. Does it work?
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Could an African-American President be the one who finally ends the cultural civil war that has been roiling American politics since the 1960s: liberal versus conservative, red versus blue, Democrat versus Republican? Both Bill Clinton and George Bush set out to end it. Clinton was "new Democrat." Bush was the compassionate conservative and the uniter. Both got trapped in the culture wars and ended up leaving the country more divided than ever. Clinton and Bush were the bookend Presidents of the Baby Boom generation.
Obama is technically a Baby Boomer – he was born near the tail end of the Baby Boom. But his approach and philosophy look beyond the Baby Boomers’ experience. He wrote in "The Audacity of Hope" about his desire to move beyond "the psychodrama of the Baby Boom generation –- a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama team has acknowledged that inviting pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation was a "stumble.’"
They underestimated the anger people felt after the passage of Proposition 8 in California - a measure Warren supported. In an effort to be inclusive (toward evangelicals), they ended up excluding others. Warren just acknowledged the problem when he called for "civility in our attitudes, even when we differ."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Bush goes out on a wave of disapproval and discontent. Since World War II, only Richard Nixon went out with less public support - and Nixon resigned. For the last couple of years, we’ve seen a brisk sale of calendars counting the days down until today, when President Bush leaves office.
Barack Obama comes in on an unprecedented wave of good will - not just because he is the nation’s first African-American President, but also because he aims to break barriers. He is a new generation, unencumbered by the culture wars of the sixties. He can speak a language of faith that many Democrats are uncomfortable with. His appointments and his policies reach across lines of party and ideology. And he said throughout the campaign that his aim was to deliver what Bush promised and failed to deliver – to be a uniter, not a divider.
(CNN) - How's the honeymoon going?
Very well. In fact, better than the country's previous honeymoons.
When it comes to honeymoons with new Presidents, Americans have, shall we say, been around the block a few times. But this new guy is really sweeping people off their feet.
Eighty-two percent of Americans are happy with the way President-elect Obama is handling his transition. Even 61 percent of Republicans like him - and they're the in-laws in this marriage. He's not supposed to be good enough for them.
(CNN) - Senator Mel Martinez's decision not to run for re-election in 2010 for his seat from Florida signifies the failure of the Republican Party's outreach to minorities, and it points to difficulties Republicans could face in the 2010 election.
Republicans have always taken special pride in Senator Martinez. He's the former chairman of the Republican Party and the only Latino Republican in the Senate. His decision not to run for a second term indicates problems for the Republican Party.
"We need to have a legislative agenda that is centrist, that tends to be bipartisan, and stay away from those issues that have been so divisive in the past," said Martinez said last month.
One of those issues is immigration reform, which Martinez championed in the Senate. But many in the Republican Party were vocal in the opposition to immigration reform and critical of Martinez for his position.
"He has been under a great deal of pressure in Florida over immigration issues," says Matt Towrey, a political analyst who heads the polling for the political information firm Insider Advantage.
HEMPSTEAD, New York (CNN) - Both Obama and McCain are free traders, but McCain's problem is that he is a more full-throated ideological free trader and that doesn't play well in economic times of trouble.
The public is very suspicious of free trade.