Obama's task

Was the lofty optimism of Barack Obama's inauguration as president just over a year ago completely shattered by Scott Brown's victory for the Republicans in Massachusetts (your report, 21 January)?

George Kerevan highlighted the parallels with the difficulties faced by Abraham Lincoln's presidency shortly after the start of the American civil war in 1861 (Opinion, 21 January) and that president's subsequent achievements, which, sadly, were part of the reason for his assassination, and which divide America to this day.

Certainly, it is time for the new president to remain pragmatic and resolute. For decades the United States has been split over the best way to combat recession, the best way to promote and extend healthcare, the best way to ensure prosperity and tackle the effects of climate change, the best way to have security at home and prosecute wars in defence of freedom abroad. It will be a test of Mr Obama's leadership to unite his country despite the setbacks in Afghanistan, Copenhagen, Massachusetts and Wall Street.

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The "Tea Party" and its followers may be a focus for protest; Mr Obama must show he can be the focus for decision, achievement and vision.


Shiel Court

Glenrothes, Fife