O'Reilly: Position available: leader of the free world

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President Barack Obama acknowledges House Speaker John Boehner President Barack Obama acknowledges House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio while speaking to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. (Nov. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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William F. B. O'Reilly Portrait of Newsday/amNY columnist Bill O'Reilly (March 28,

William F. B. O'Reilly is a Republican consultant.

It's been a rough week and a half since President Barack Obama reclaimed the White House:

The Dow lost more than 500 points;

The nation's CIA chief was sacked for sacking down with his biographer;

Israel is at war with Hamas, again;

Widespread talk of state secession is in the news for the first time in 150 years (while a new Lincoln movie opens in theaters);

And on top of all that, we may have lost Twinkies, those quintessentially American heart-cloggers, with the liquidation of Hostess Brands over a union dispute.

The one high point in the stock market this week was the meteoric rise of a company called Medbox. Its value shot up 3,000 percent between Monday and Thursday, from $4 to $250 per share, before settling at around $100 on Friday.

What does this great new American company make?

Marijuana dispensing machines.

Those Hostess executives must be kicking themselves. Their timing couldn't have been worse.

Such is the state of the republic at the close of Obama's first term in office, and yet the American public has chosen to stick with the man.

There has been a lot of blather among talking heads since the election about whether or not Obama received a mandate in the popular vote on Nov. 6, as if that somehow matters.

Those of us who supported Mitt Romney have to face the facts. Obama won re-election. I am as stunned as anyone, having predicted in this very space on Sept. 26 that Romney would win the day, and having laid out all the reasons why it was practically inevitable.

But like it or not, Obama is our top executive and commander in chief. And we need him to lead now more than ever, even if that means not getting what we want.

But leading from behind isn't going to cut it in Obama's second term (it didn't in his first). The stakes are too high, and we should all collectively hope and pray -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- that the president has grown into the job he will hold for a second time.

The president's first big post-election test are the so-called fiscal cliff discussions that should already be taking place with House and Senate leaders. These are the very same leaders -- Harry Reid, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell -- who failed to reach a spending reduction deal a year ago. As Yogi Berra would say, "It's deja vu all over again." But this time it has to end differently.

The worst thing that could happen in Washington in the weeks ahead is nothing. Political stasis has frozen job growth in the country, as companies rationally withhold making investments because of the political and economic uncertainty in the air. With the eurozone sinking back into recession this week, who can blame American job creators for their trepidation?

If a deal over long-term spending reductions is not reached by year's end, clumsy $1.2 trillion across-the-board budget cuts over 10 years will automatically take place, with $500 billion of that coming from military spending. Those cuts would coincide with a sharp tax increase when the Bush tax cuts expire, which could slow the economy more.

But far more worrisome than any budget cuts and tax increases would be the continued failure of the two parties in Washington to work together. Without an ability to hammer out compromise we are sunk as a nation.

It's the role of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner to fight tooth and nail for the principles of their respective houses of Congress. It is President Obama's job to lock them in a room until a spending reduction deal is made.

It is his job to lead. He should get to it.

William F. B. O'Reilly is a Newsday columnist and a Republican political consultant.

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