Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
A couple of days ago I wrote that 2013 had been a rough year for President Obama:
It started with the fiscal cliff showdown and then barreled straight into Scandalmania (Benghazi+IRS+AP subpoenas); Edward Snowden and the NSA leaks; the Syria U-turn; the government shutdown; and finally the Obamacare website debacle.
Steve Benen takes a look at these same events and pushes back:
Twice congressional Republicans threatened debt-ceiling default; twice Obama stood his ground....Congressional Republicans shut down the government to extract White House concessions. Obama and congressional Democrats stood firm and the GOP backed down....forged an international agreement to rid Syria of chemical weapons....The “scandals” the media hyped relentlessly in the spring proved to be largely meaningless.
Nice try! And there's something to this. Obama did manage to squeeze out "victories" in the fiscal cliff and government shutdown fights, Scandalmania mostly turned into a nothingburger, and Syria and Iran may yet turn out to be foreign policy wins.
But at best, that's for the future. For now, 2013 just looks a year that Obama barely survived, bruised and bloody. It's possible that the other guy looks even worse, of course, and after watching John Boehner's press conference a couple of days ago, I'd say it's fair to think so.
The good news, such as it is, is that all this stuff might set up Obama for a decent 2014. If Republicans realize it's pointless to pick more debt ceiling fights; if Obamacare starts working smoothly; if we strike a decent deal with Iran; and if the economy picks up—if all those things happen, then 2014 will look pretty good. It probably can't look much worse.