Analysis: Obama embracing crisis as opportunity

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Like other presidents saddled with a crisis, Barack Obama is embracing the worst economic conditions in a generation as an opportunity to advance an audacious agenda that, if successful, could reshape the country for decades to come.

The flip side: He could fall victim to grandiose plans and too-high expectations if he doesn't deliver.

It's clearly a chance he's willing to take.

"We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again," Obama told the ailing and anxious country last week. "Now is the time to act boldly and wisely."

In his first five weeks, in his first budget and in his first address to Congress, Obama has made clear he's plowing ahead with his ambitious, big-ticket campaign promises. At the same time, he's trying to reverse a recession he inherited, by rescuing the banking, housing and financial sectors.

He wants to free the country from its foreign oil dependence, improve early childhood schooling, curb global warming, withdraw troops from Iraq, overhaul tax laws, fix transportation arteries, rehabilitate the U.S. image abroad and even find a cure for cancer. This week, he'll hold a health care summit to start a massive overhaul he hopes to complete in 2009.

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