President Obama had a rough 2013 that will no doubt have him searching for a comeback -- amid no shortage of unsolicited advice and New Year’s resolutions for a better 2014 and overall second term.
The president’s year didn’t start off so poorly -- being serenaded by James Taylor in January during his second-term swearing-in, then walking down Pennsylvania Avenue to the cheers of thousands of well-wishers in a parade celebrating his decisive, re-election victory a few months earlier.
However, Obama’s political power began to wane soon after, starting with his failed effort to tighten federal gun laws in the wake of two mass shootings and concluding with the disastrous rollout of his signature health care law.
Obama’s job approval rating continued to fall as the HealthCare.gov website continued to malfunction and millions of Americans learned they, in fact, could not keep their existing insurance policies -- earning him PolitiFact’s lie-of-the-year award.
“It’s never too late to get it right,” Dan Holler, communications director for the conservative group Heritage Action for America, said Tuesday. “So the president should finally honor the promise he made to the American people when he said they could keep their health insurance and doctors.”
Along the way, even some members of the liberal media, among the president's strongest supporters, have piled on. A Washington Post political blogger wrote Obama had “the worst year in Washington.” And perhaps even worse, MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews hinted at a lost second term.
“It’s not just a bad year in terms of the rollout,” Matthews said. "There’s erosion in interest. ... It feels like the seventh or eighth year of a presidency. It doesn't feel like the fifth.”
His comments were included in a 15-page Republican National Committee release this week that chronicled Obama’s rough year and included the IRS scandal, in which agents targeted Tea Party groups, and revelations about the National Security Agency spying on friendly foreign leaders.
Moreover, Obama “standing on the sidelines” as the events unfolded has even thrown in jeopardy his entire political legacy, the RNC argues.
Democratic strategist Joe Trippi says the president and his administration could improve their lot almost immediately by being more transparent about ObamaCare enrollment numbers, releasing them every two weeks instead of every month “no matter how bad they are.”
He thinks the president would have limited success trying to further extend a hand to a Congress that is stuck in partisan gridlock and should instead focus on finishing what he started.
“There’s no spin that will fix things,” Trippi said Monday. “It’s now about getting things done. You cannot just say ObamaCare is great. What matters is will 7.5 million people really sign up?”
Trippi, a Fox News contributor, also thinks Obama should try to guide what appears to be a continually improving economy on his way to a comeback, pointing to lower unemployment and an upwardly trending gross domestic product.
“These are all big if’s,” he said. “But I think the final years of his presidency will be much better with a better economy.”
The president in the closing weeks of last year made clear that he would renew his push in 2014 to pass immigration reform, which if passed by Congress would likely help him regain some of his political clout.
His job approval rate, which most polls had at about 50 percent at the start of 2013, sunk to a record low 38 percent in late December, according to Quinnipiac poll.