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One hundred days into his second term, Obama has already lost control of the agenda, if he ever had control in the first place. He ricocheted through his news conference, as he has through his presidency recently, between issues and crises not of his choice.
He was asked about unrest in Syria, the September attack on American officials in Libya, the bombing in Boston, troubles implementing his healthcare law and difficulty closing the military prison at Guantánamo Bay. ABC News’ Jonathan Karl pointed out that Obama’s gun-control legislation collapsed, that his attempts to undo the “sequester” cuts have been ignored and that 92 House Democrats defied his veto threat on a cybersecurity bill.
“Well, if you put it that way, Jonathan, maybe I should just pack up and go home,” Obama replied. “Golly.”
The president was out of sorts from the start of the news conference, scheduled for 10:15 a.m. and postponed to 10:30. Obama finally came out at 10:46. “Good afternoon,” he said. “Or good morning.”
He didn’t attempt to set the tone for the event, skipping an opening statement. And he often found himself remarking on the difficulty of his job: intelligence sharing (“This is hard stuff”), closing Gitmo (“It’s a hard case to make”), Republican governors blocking his health care law’s implementation (“That makes it harder”) and responding in Syria (“It is a difficult problem”).
If there was a common theme to the president’s many troubles, it was an uncooperative Congress. “Right now things are pretty dysfunctional up on Capitol Hill,” he observed. As an example, he mentioned the legislation — which he signed into law — to end flight delays caused by the sequester’s furloughs of air-traffic controllers by shifting money from airport repairs and improvements. “In order to avoid delays this summer, we’re going to ensure delays for the next two or three decades,” he said.
“Why’d you go along with it?” Karl asked.
Some in the room chuckled. Obama didn’t. “You seem to suggest that somehow these folks over there have no responsibilities, and that my job is to somehow get them to behave,” he said. “That’s their job . . . I cannot force Republicans to embrace those common-sense solutions.”
Oh, those terrible Republicans... Past Presidents had the leadership skills to reach across to the other side and get stuff done. Obama does not know how to lead, he IS a bystander...