• With: Kim Strassel, Dan Henninger, James Freeman, Matt Kaminski, Bret Stephens

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," May 4, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," 100 days into his second term, is President Obama losing control of his agenda or is he right where he wants to be?

    Plus, online shoppers beware. The Senate is preparing to push the renewed Internet sales tax. Brick-and-mortar retailers say it's only fair, but fair to whom?

    And red lines in the sand. A look at the administration's shifting response to reports of chemical weapons use in Syria.

    Welcome the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    President Obama marked the 100th day of his second term this week. And by some measures, it's been a rocky start, coming off defeats on gun control and the spending sequester and facing a tough battle on immigration reform. The president was asked during a press conference Tuesday whether he still had the juice to get things done.


    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Maybe I should just pack up and go home.

    As Mark Twain said, rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated at this point.

    Right now, things are pretty dysfunctional up on Capitol Hill. Despite that, I'm actually confident that there are a range of things that we are going to be able to get done.


    GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.

    So, Kim, you are down there in that hot house. Is this the new --



    GIGOT: Is this the new consensus that President Obama is a lame duck?

    STRASSEL:  No. I don't think that that is consensus.


    Look, I think that what the president is doing here is that he has put forward a very pure, unadulterated liberal vision of some of the policies he would like to see passed on higher taxes, on guns, maybe on immigration. I think he is going to push very hard and put pressure on Republicans to try to pass them. What he has not done is shown that he is willing to compromise much in the aiding of that passage. So I think what he is also doing is getting ready, if the Republicans do not go along with his wishes, he is going to tee them up yet again as obstructionists, saying they are the reasons that things are dysfunctional, try to drive some turnout to the 2014 election and win back the House and --


    GIGOT: What you are saying here, implying is that he actually may be wants failure. That he basically is playing not to accomplish things in this Congress but to set up for the next Congress to defeat Republicans in the election.

    STRASSEL: I think that you have to wonder if that's not what it is. Look at what he has put out there, Paul. When you come out and you say you want higher taxes, knowing that the Republicans have said that just is never going to happen.

    GIGOT: Right.

    STRASSEL: When you say you want gun control proposals that can't even pass your own Democratic Senate, you have got to question what he is actually up to. They seem to be playing the long game.

    GIGOT: Does he still --

    STRASSEL: Wait it out until 2014, get control, and then do what we want.

    GIGOT: I know that you pretty much sympathize with Kim's view on this, but is that why you think is he losing juice?

    DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST, DEPUTY EDITOR: Barack Obama's politics have always been a little difficult for people it to figure out. He spent the entire first term not being able to be able to agree with Republicans on the deficit, the debt talk, the grand bargain. Then he ran against them and he ran against the wealthiest.

    GIGOT: Right.

    HENNINGER: We now understand the entire first term of his presidency was basically a political operation to get him reelected because he was going around country pumping these speeches into his base and they voted for him. That's a first-term strategy, Paul. I don't think it's a second- term presidential strategy. The American people want to see some accomplishments. They want to see some substance. They put him back in the office.

    Obama's problem, as he said in that clip, he thinks Capitol Hill is dysfunctional. He doesn't like the capitol. He doesn't like the Democrats up there. He won't work with them. We have been told that from both sides of the aisle. He doesn't spend any time with them.

    GIGOT: Yet, the immigration strategy, James, may actually be working. That immigration strategy is --


    FREEMAN: Yes, stay out of that.


    Keep the president out of discussions and maybe something will get done.

    The whole idea that he has lost his juice to get things done, this is status quo since the day he arrived in January '09. He hasn't lost any juice. He never had any in terms of getting things done with people who don't immediately already agree with him. You look at the stimulus, Obama- care in the first term, these are all done, often using strange legislative tactics to offset the fact that he could not persuade any Republicans to come along with him on his big spending plan.

    GIGOT: Yet, if immigration passes, Dan, that would be considered, and rightly so, immigration reform, a historic achievement. That's been worked out now thanks to Marco Rubio on the Republican side and the Chuck Schumer on the Democrat side.

    HENNINGER: And the ace in the hole is the economy strengths as well. The unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a percent this week.