The small announcement sounded like deftly-launched grousing: About twice as many Americans, so it said, would trust Barack Obama over his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, to defend against an invasion by extraterrestrials. This survey started off the most important domestic policy day in the United States in a long time — the day on which the president did not have to encounter "Mars Attacks," but instead brought a nearly extraterrestrial political effort to a successful end: The Supreme Court confirmed the constitutionality of his controversial health care reform.
With that, Obama is celebrating a big domestic victory, just over four months before the presidential election in November. The campaign promise, in which he invested the majority of his political capital in the first two years of his presidency, has become a reality. A large part of the 50 million uninsured Americans will be taken into the insurance system from 2014 on; the costs for health care spending (18 percent of gross domestic product — double that of any other industrialized nation) are supposed to sink for the first time in a long while. Now the president can cash in on the political dividends of this feat — even if failure to meet the insurance requirement is punishable only by a fine, not a hefty penalty.
Obama arrived as the agent of change — as one who, if not already a change of system, at least wanted to bring a modernized U.S. back to its feet from the shards of the financial crisis. He has succeeded — even on the first high wave of "yes, we can" euphoria — in relatively little since then: The renewal of the miserable infrastructure of the country is only progressing haltingly. The big American automobile manufacturers have been saved, but are still failing to produce in the world market. The financial giants of Wall Street are still playing cat and mouse with politics.
With the Supreme Court’s decision on health care reform, Obama’s balance is visibly improved: At least something of the "change" that he preached again and again has materialized.
The opposition to the reform, one should not deceive oneself here, will continue to exist — in Romney, in Congress and also in the population. For Obama, however, it is a turning point in his presidency. With this victory, he emerges from a long phase of defensive play and can now proceed on the offensive against his Republican opponents. He, who is always spoken about in historical categories, has now finally achieved something historic. And most of all, the smell of the winner, which Americans are least able to resist, is sticking to him again.
Whether this perception will be the decisive breakthrough in Obama’s re-election campaign is hard to say. It is still true that the economy will be a deciding factor. Surveys, in which it is the leading topic to those surveyed, compared to health reform at 7 percent, also indicate that. But the power play is coming from Barack Obama again. Yes, he can — the voters can now trust him with not only extraterrestrial tasks, but also earthly agendas.