Why is Barack Obama in such distress now? Domestically and around the world, he is in less control than ever, the agenda being driven by events and ruthless antagonists. On major issues, even his own party is not squarely behind him.
Is the nation in some existential funk that no leader could overcome, or have we somehow been swamped into a loss of priorities that has to be set straight?
The question sounds suspiciously like an election theme, but it can’t wait for 2014 or 2016 to be addressed.
For one thing, in 2013 Barack Obama seems to be wavering between the passivity that finally produced a Pyhrric victory on health care reform in 2010 and a new-found aggressive insistence on punishing Syria.
Lest we forget, the “victorious” version of Obamacare was a compromised mess that resulted from the President’s failure to tell Congress exactly what he wanted from the start the year before and fight for it, rather than settle for what he could get (and giving the Tea Party a vehicle for taking over the House).
Now on Syria we see a different Obama, drawing a red line on Assad’s use of poison gas but then deferring (sort of) to Congress on a military response and being deflected from his course by that renowned peacekeeper Vladimir Putin.
No matter which way he turns now, the President is in trouble, on the defensive, explaining himself, being seen as weak and indecisive.
As he girds himself for another bitter pointless fight with Congress on the debt ceiling and budget, is it too much to ask Barack Obama to take a step back and remember who he was in November 2008, a living example of how America can change and evolve?
Why are we spending so much of our political capital on every new insoluble crisis that can be produced by inexhaustible Middle East quagmire makers?
In his last futile speech, the President acknowledged the nation’s exhaustion with all that. For the sake of his legacy and our future, he should be stepping back to look at the whole picture and start spending his remaining time in the White House to pull us as far out of that muck as humanly possible.