As the new contributing writer for the Beltway, I thought this would be an apposite moment to introduce myself and to let you all know that the Beltway is back and ready to tackle the major issues of the second year of Obama’s presidency, and its significance for our small isle.

One year ago this morning, I awoke on the cold floor of a campaign office in Fredericksburg, Virginia, surrounded by fellow staffers who remained dead to the brave new world they had worked so hard to create over the preceding months. In this silent aurora, the stale smell of champagne mingled with the aroma of success. Virginia had turned blue for the first time since 1964, and all of us had worked, without the hint of repose, in some small part, towards securing the election of the first African American of the United States. It had been an unlikely journey, for the candidate, and his campaigners, but we had arrived at a moment of monumental political and social change, and Nobel-winning consequence

This morning, in 2009, as I awake in an Oxford bedroom (minus the stench of alcohol, but retaining a whiff of hope) so much has changed and yet so much is still to come. On the achievements – some have been symbolic, like the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, and some have been tangible, such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (or Stimulus Bill’s) apparent success in taking America out of recession.

On the to-do-list: healthcare reform is being dragged to the finish line – but it’s not there yet; Guantanamo is yet to close its doors and put up the ‘for sale sign’; the strategy for engagement in Afghanistan remains in consultation; and ‘don’t ask don’t tell’, is still ‘don’t ask don’t tell’. This is not a critique of the current administration, but an indication of the monumental task at hand. When a ship has been travelling full speed ahead in one direction for eight years, it takes a while to crunch the gears and put the vessel on a reverse trajectory.

At the Beltway, we’ll be here to trace the next crucial year of American policy, and in assessing how well this ship is able to arrive at its various, and potentially treacherous, destinations.

In the meantime: “All Aboard!” – Happy Obama-versary! – and stay tuned!