EJ Dionne: Obama’s 2013 Wasn’t That Bad, Ya Know!

He thinks 2011 was worse

2013 wasn’t as bad as you might think

“Has this been the worst year of your presidency?”

It was a heck of a way for President Obama to wrap up 2013. In asking the question at the president’s year-end news conference, Julie Pace of the Associated Press captured several things at once: the reality of a genuinely disappointing year for Obama, a mood of skepticism in the media about him, the inevitability of Beltway scorekeeping and the personalization of nearly everything in politics.

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Obama, for good reason, avoided a direct answer. But I’d suggest that 2013 was not his worst year. That distinction should be reserved for 2011, when the president emerged from the summer looking weak after protracted negotiations with House Republicans over a debt-ceiling increase.

The year 2013 was better than that. It’s true that the health-care Web site fiasco threatened to engulf Obama’s signature achievement. And Obamacare will undergo new tests in the coming year. The site’s “back end” problems in connecting with insurance companies could create more bad news in January as some who thought they had bought policies discover that their purchases failed to go through.

Dionne notes that the website issues are fixable. Yes, of course they are. But he fails to note that the website is a symptom, the real issues are people losing the insurance they like, losing their doctors, paying higher premiums and, more importantly, much higher deductibles. The number of people who will constantly use the insurance versus those who are healthy. The reduced provider networks. The potential for tens of millions more who get their insurance through their employer to lose their insurance in 2014 and pay lots more.

Moreover, something else happened this year that may, over time, prove far more important than the great Web site flop. In 2013, the tea party began to decline in both real and perceived power, and Republicans began a slow retreat from the politics of absolutism.

Dionne also mentions the Senate Dems instituting the (supposedly) limited nuclear option. Which could seriously backfire on Obama and the Dems in 2015, if the GOP retakes the Senate. Of course, he notes that there was no immigration reform nor gun control.

It’s a nice spin, but let’s consider:

  • His poll numbers have dropped heavily, and especially his polling on people trusting him.
  • The Snowden leaks on how much the NSA is spying on Americans
  • His pure lying about Obamacare
  • Syria – running to Vladimir Putin for help shows extreme weakness, and the war still rages in Syria.
  • What’s up with Syria’s WMD? Beuller? Beuller?
  • China’s massively growing control and belligerence in the western Pacific region
  • Even Senate Democrats didn’t buy into Obama’s deal with Iran
  • IRS targeting
  • What was done with his 2013 State Of The Union agenda? Zip. Nada.
  • His selfies at Nelson Mandela’s funeral
  • Entering his 5th year as president and still needing government help for the long term unemployed, because his domestic economic policies stink (BTW, what about those who are long term unemployed but not eligible for unemployment payments? Does anyone care about them?)
  • Using Barrycades and shutting down all sorts of monuments and federal properties during the “Shutdown”
  • The enormous amount of changes and delays he’s single-handedly instituted for Obamacare
  • Surveillance on reporters and their families

Dionne also notes

This set the stage for this month’s moderate reversal of some of the sequester’s spending cuts. The deal was championed – despite tea party opposition – by Rep. Paul Ryan, the avatar of the anti-spending right. Dozens of House Republicans who had voted for the shutdown in October to fend off primary challenges voted for the compromise in December to put perpetual budget crises behind them. When the roll was called, only 62 Republicans voted no.

You know why this terrible legislation passed? Because Obama was not involved. He stayed far, far away. He didn’t speak about it. He was nowhere to be seen. That’s not a great sign for The President Of The USA.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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