Fri May 1, 2009 9:47pm BST
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Barack Obama is revelling in presidential power and influence unseen in Washington for decades.
Barely 100 days in office, the U.S. president and his Democratic Party have firm control over the White House and Congress and the ability to push through ambitious plans.
Now, with the coming retirement of a Supreme Court justice clearing the way for him to appoint a successor, Obama already is assured a legacy at the top of all three branches of government -- executive, legislative and judicial.
On the corporate front, the federal government's pumping of billions of dollars in bailout money into banks and auto companies has given Obama the power to force an overhaul in those industries, a remarkable intervention in capitalist industries by the state.
Americans are giving him leeway as well. His job approval ratings are well over 60 percent, giving him political capital to undertake big challenges.
His political opponents, the Republicans, are in disarray, reduced in numbers and engaged in an internal struggle over how to recover from devastating election losses in 2006 and last year.
Experts speak of Obama in the same league as such transformational presidents as Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, who led the United States through the Great Depression and World War Two, and Republican Ronald Reagan, who led the country to victory in the Cold War.
"I cannot in my memory remember a time when a president of the United States has had more influence," said Democratic strategist Doug Schoen, who worked in the Clinton White House. Continued...
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