The Hammer of Kraut:
Fate is fickle, power cyclical, and nothing is new under the sun. Especially in Washington, where after every election the losing party is sagely instructed to confess sin, rend garments and rethink its principles lest it go the way of the Whigs. And where the victor is hailed as the new Caesar, facing an open road to domination.
And where Barack Obama, already naturally inclined to believe his own loftiness, graciously accepted the kingly crown and proceeded to ride his reelection success to a crushing victory over the GOP at the fiscal cliff, leaving a humiliated John Boehner & Co. with nothing but naked tax hikes.
Thus emboldened, Obama turned his inaugural and State of the Union addresses into a left-wing dream factory, from his declaration of war on global warming (on a planet where temperatures are the same as 16 years ago and in a country whose CO2 emissions are at a 20-year low) to the invention of new entitlements — e.g., universal preschool for 5-year-olds— for a country already drowning in debt.
To realize his dreams, Obama sought to fracture and neutralize the congressional GOP as a prelude to reclaiming the House in 2014. This would enable him to fully enact his agenda in the final two years of his presidency, usually a time of lame-duck paralysis. Hail the Obama juggernaut.
Well, that story — excuse me, narrative — lasted exactly six months. The Big Mo is gone.
It began with the sequester. Obama never believed the Republicans would call his bluff and let it go into effect. They did.
Taken by surprise, Obama cried wolf, predicting the end of everything we hold dear if the sequester was not stopped. It wasn’t. Nothing happened.
Highly embarrassed, and determined to indeed make (bad) things happen, the White House refused Republican offers to give it more discretion in making cuts. Bureaucrats were instructed to inflict maximum pain from minimal cuts, as revealed by one memo from the Agriculture Department demanding agency cuts that the public would feel.
Things began with the near-comical cancellation of White House tours and ended with not-so-comical airline delays. Obama thought furious passengers would blame the GOP. But isn’t the executive branch in charge of these agencies? Who thinks that a government spending $3.6 trillion a year can’t cut 2 percent without furloughing air-traffic controllers?
Looking not just incompetent at managing budgets but cynical for deliberately injuring the public welfare, the administration relented. Congress quickly passed a bill giving Obama reallocation authority to restore air traffic control. Having previously threatened to veto any such bill, Obama caved. He signed.
Not exactly Appomattox, but coming immediately after Obama’s spectacular defeat on gun control, it marked an administration that had lost its “juice,” to paraphrase a charming question at the president’s Tuesday news conference.
For Obama, gun control was a political disaster. He invested capital. He went on a multi-city tour. He paraded grieving relatives. And got nothing. An assault-weapons ban — a similar measure had passed the Congress 20 years ago — lost 60 to 40 in a Senate where Democrats control 55 seats. Obama failed even to get mere background checks.
All this while appearing passive, if not helpless, on the world stage. On Syria, Obama is nervously trying to erase the WMD red line he had so publicly established. On Benghazi, he stonewalled accusations that State Department officials wishing to testify are being blocked.
Nice poetry, but it’s really not correct to say that Obama has suffered a “fall” since the election. The truth is he wasn’t riding high last year either. Obama is the first incumbent POTUS to win reelection with fewer votes and a smaller margin than his original election.
Obama won reelection by spending $1 BILLION to demonize Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch weirdo Mormon capitalist fat cat. Even then he needed a lot of help from the media too. Despite what the Vile Progs seem to believe, Obama’s only real political skill is in demonizing his opponents.
Obama’s only significant legislative victories took place when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. He’s been a lame duck since November 2010 when the GOP tsunami swept into the House of Representatives.
Historically, second terms are not very productive for POTUSes (POTUSi?). Most of them see their poll ratings decline. Next year is mid-term election year and Obamacare will be fully operational by then. I am going to predict that if some kind of immigration reform is passed it will turn out to be less popular in reality than it is in theory. (The messy details of amnesty will be a sticking point for many people.)
Republicans in Congress have more to fear from primary challenges from the Tea Party than they do from Democrats in the general election. As soon at the mid-term election finishes the 2016 primary campaigns to replace Obama will officially begin (if they haven’t already). That will be a two-party primary fight and no one is a lock for their party’s nomination.
Obama will still be President. He will still be able to wield his veto pen and he will still control the bully pulpit. He will still have a lot of control over government policy as the Chief Executive.
But he is a lame duck, and the Law of Gravity is inexorable and implacable.
Quack, quack, quack.