The week after his reelection, President Obama was a man full of promise and promises: His job-approval rating stood at 54 percent, the 2010 tea party wave that had knocked his first term off balance appeared to have receded and he seemed as sober about the future as he was hopeful.
â€œWith respect to the issue of mandate, Iâ€™ve got one mandate .â€‰.â€‰. to help middle-class families and families that have been working hard to try to get into the middle class,â€ he said at a news conference in the East Room in November 2012. Obama acknowledged the dangers of â€œpresidential overreachâ€ in second terms, but he put forward an expansive, legacy-building agenda: a major fiscal deal, immigration reform and action on climate change.
Two bruising years later, only one of those initiatives has been achieved, and a president who once boasted of a barrier-breaking liberal coalition is under fire from his own party as his Republican rivals are poised to make gains in Tuesdayâ€™s midterm elections.
Here is the problem is a nutshell
â€œThis is an administration that is very good at articulating some of its plans and responses and has delivered good speeches, but translating that into action has been a problem for the past six years,â€ said David Rothkopf, author of â€œNational Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear.â€ â€œRight now, the vast preponderance of evidence is that management is not one of the strong suits of this administration.â€
Obamaâ€™s list of second-term leadership crises is a formidable one: the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, long waits at Veterans Affairs hospitals, Edward Snowdenâ€™s disclosures of the National Security Agencyâ€™s secrets, a pileup of foreign children along the southwestern border, the threat of Islamist terrorists marauding across Syria and Iraq beheading foreigners, including Americans, and the arrival of the Ebola virus in the United States.
â€œThese are legitimate crises in their own right that have to be dealt with by the president. Thatâ€™s his job,â€ said AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer, a White House ally who blames the GOP for blocking the presidentâ€™s economic agenda. â€œBut that has dampened his ability to speak out on other issues.â€