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Noonan: Obama Already Close to Lame Duck Status

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Friday, 03 May 2013 12:20 PM

By Dan Weil

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President Barack Obama is on the way to becoming a lame duck president, says Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan in an editorial.

He's not there yet as anything can happen in his remaining 44 months in office to make him relevant, but he's getting close, she says.

"He's not a lame duck, he's just lame," the former Ronald Reagan speechwriter writes.

Noonan cites a litany of setbacks that have dogged Obama:

• "He couldn't get a win on gun control with 90 percent public support;"
• "When he speaks on immigration reform you get the sense he's setting it back;"
• "He's floundering on Syria;"
• "The looming crisis on implementation of Obamacare has begun to fill the news. Even his allies are using the term 'train wreck.' Obamacare is not only the most slovenly written major law in modern American history, it is full of sneaked-in surprises people are just discovering;"
• His "sequester strategy — scare the American public into supporting me — flopped;"
• "Benghazi and what appear to be its cover-ups drag on and will not go away;"
• "The economy is stuck in low-growth, employment in no-growth."

"The president seems incapable of changing anything, even in a crisis. He's been scored as passive and petulant, but it's the kind of passivity people fall into when nothing works."

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Noonan says two factors that have weakened Obama haven't received much attention. First, much of the credit for Obama's victory in November has been assigned to Democrats' digital advantage over Republicans.

"In the days after the 2012 election, the Democrats bragged about their technological genius and how it turned the election," Noonan writes.

"But I suspect their bragging hurt their president. . . . When people talk about 2012 they don't say the president won because the American people endorsed his wonderful leadership, they say he won because his team out-computerized the laggard Republicans."

And the implications of that aren't so great for Obama, Noonan writes

"This has left him and his people looking more like cold technocrats who know how to campaign than leaders who know how to govern. And it has diminished claims of a popular mandate."

Second, and more important, was "the trash-talking some Republican leaders indulged in after the 2008 campaign," Noonan writes. "It entered their heads at the Obama White House and gave them a warped sense of the battlefield."

For example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the GOP's main objective was to make Obama a one-term president.

"The press hyped this as if it were something new, a unique and epic level of partisan animus," Noonan says. "Members of the administration also thought it was something new. It made them assume no deals with Republicans were possible, and it gave them a handy excuse they still use: 'It's not us, they vowed from the beginning they wouldn't work with us!'"

Of course it wasn't new, just politics as usual, but the White House didn't understand that, Noonan says. The partisan rhetoric is "business as usual," she states. "And if you're a leader you can lead right past it."


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