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Challenges to tackle this year
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There are collision points we can foresee even in the middle of 2014's first month, tensions that must be addressed, crises that must be confronted, barriers that must be breached. Here are some of them:-- The president's mysterious persona.Barack Obama came to the White House promising a new beginning, beyond party and partisanship, and yet his five years have been mired in a partisanship that has no equal in modern times.Americans very likely would vote again for the man who ran against John McCain in November 2008. They very likely would not vote again for the man who has occupied the White House since January 2009.-- The political paralysis on Capitol Hill.In 1964, a half century ago, the Senate was hung up for more than two months in the longest, most vicious filibuster in American history -- and yet in the end it passed the Civil Rights Act that transformed the United States.

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