National Journal: Weary Obama Suffers From Sixth-Year Curse

Image: National Journal: Weary Obama Suffers From Sixth-Year Curse

Monday, 02 Jun 2014 09:25 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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President Barack Obama is suffering from the same trials and tribulations that every two-term president has faced since World War II, the National Journal said.

"For all of them, the sixth year was troubled and filled with administration scandals, political challenges, and executive turnover," the National Journal's George E. Condon Jr. wrote.

The resignations of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and White House press secretary Jay Carney came within hours of each other on Friday, putting the final nail into embattled president’s very bad week.

"Day 1,956 of his presidency was not too kind to President Obama," wrote Condon, a National Journal White House correspondent. "Obama looked Friday like a man gamely trying to get a stalled administration back on track."

Condon says that the president was heavily criticized earlier in the week for his
"weak" West Point speech, which he had hoped would launch a springboard for a new foreign policy initiative.

Obama had also been under a constant barrage of attack all week over the administration’s response to the VA scandal, in which Shinseki finally resigned amid pressure from the GOP and Democrats.

A short time later on Friday, Obama announced that his longtime spin doctor, Carney, was also exiting.

It’s enough to make a man turn gray, says Condon, noting the changing color of the president’s hair.

"Obama does look weary," Condon wrote. "And he is at a point in his administration when his agenda seems tired, and many of his appointees are exhausted."

Obama began his tenure surrounded by a group of loyal aides, who had been with him since he’d announced his candidacy for president. But one by one they have departed, and these days just Valerie Jarrett and Dan Pfeiffer and a few others remain in the White House.

Meanwhile, only three of his original 16 Cabinet members are still at their desks — Eric Holder at Justice, Tom Vilsack at Agriculture, and Arne Duncan at Education. Condon noted that Obama is on his fourth budget director, his fifth chief of staff, and is about to employ his third press secretary.

"The turnover at press secretary is the least surprising," wrote Condon, noting that two-termers Bill Clinton and George W. Bush each had four press secretaries, Ronald Reagan had three, while Lyndon Johnson also had four despite serving less than two terms.

"Each had to struggle with the reality that the public starts to tune out a president in his second term," Condon said. "In a sixth year, people tend to believe they have pretty much heard it all from the president, and about all they hear seems to be bad news."

How Obama "responds now will determine whether this week is regarded as a low point or a critical turning point for his presidency."

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