Will Obama Be Looking for the Reset Button?

(CBS/AP)
It's a little known secret about the House Chamber. Inside the lectern from which the U.S. president addresses Joint Sessions of Congress, there's a small locked box. Once a year, just before a president arrives to deliver his annual State of the Union Address, the House Sergeant-at-Arms unlocks the box with a four-sided key that dates back to the days of Thomas Jefferson. The cover flips up to reveal a red button about the size of a half-dollar coin. If the president presses it during his speech, he gets to start his presidency over again.

If only.

Don't look for the button, President Obama. It doesn't exist, no matter how much you or your predecessors may have wished it did.

As Tom Hanks once said in a movie, "there's no crying in baseball." And as Richard Nixon came to realize, there are no do-overs in the presidency.

Photos: Obama's First Year
CBSNews.com Special Report: Obama's First Year

To be sure, Mr. Obama's first year as president didn't go as he had hoped and planned. His premiere legislative priority – health care reform - failed to get enacted. The unemployment rate soared far higher than he feared. He had to deploy tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan. His poll numbers plummeted. And he lost a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate.

It's understandable if Mr. Obama were to feel around for that button just to make sure, but there are no presidential mulligans.

However, he can if he likes, begin a new chapter in his presidency. And a State of the Union Address is as good a time as any. The problem though for Mr. Obama is that he likes and stands by everything he did in his first year. He doesn't really want to change his policies - just the fact that they didn't work.

"I did not run for president to turn away from these challenges," said Mr. Obama on Friday at a Town Hall Meeting in Elyria, Ohio. Top aides say he meant it.

He said he didn't seek the presidency to kick the nation's challenges down the road. "I ran for president to confront them once and for all."

He thinks his efforts to fix the economy were on target. It's just that the economy was in worse shape than he or his aides realized.

"I ran for this office to rebuild our economy so it works not just for a fortunate few, but for everybody who's willing to work hard in this country."

He made it clear in that Ohio speech that no way will he give up on overhauling health care coverage in America.

"I'm not going to walk away just because it's hard. We are going to keep on working to get this done."

He wants to be heard calling again for another jobs bill as part of an effort to bring down the calamitous unemployment rate still hovering at 10 percent.

Again and again last week, he said he'll "never stop fighting" for the policies he brought with him to the White House. That goes for his efforts to reform the financial regulatory system, improve education, deflate the federal deficits, and destroy the threat to America posed by al Qaeda.

"These are some of the fights we've already had and I can promise you there will be more fights ahead."

Mr. Obama isn't looking to reset his policies, just the way they failed to get enacted or produce the results he desired in the amount of time he had.

There's no button for that either.

Special Report: Obama's 2010 State of the Union

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(CBS)
Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.
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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.

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