Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 was Barack Obama's worst year as president – his annus horribilis

"The litany of failure began with his attempt to pass a modest gun control bill in the wake of the Newtown massacre. The vast majority of Americans were favourable (if probably uninterested), the media backed it and – in the aftermath of that bloody horror – it seemed inevitable. Yet the President couldn't garner the votes. The problem wasn't just the Republicans being mean or the NRA being surprisingly smart, it was that Obama's 2012 victory had come at a price. He'd so slandered, slammed and irritated his opponents that they refused to work with him. And so the lame duck presidency became a dead duck. .....Syria. Presidents rarely have trouble sending Americans to war. There's a tradition that it's the executive's prerogative and Congress usually defers to the hawks. But on this occasion Obama first said he'd go to the Congress, then declined even to do that, then allowed all talk of war to slide into silence. Again, his nervousness about seeking approval wasn't just down to Republican partisanship (on this occasion, the GOP establishment queued up to back him). It was because Obama had weakened the case for war through incompetence. ........Finally, there was Obamacare. This was the most important screw-up of all because it related to the biggest proposal of the first term: universal healthcare coverage. It was promised that people could keep their old insurance plans, that costs would fall, that the system would be easy to navigate. On the contrary, millions risked higher premiums and losing their old plans. And the website – the basic nuts and bolts of the operation – functioned less professionally than a 13-year old's tumblr of cute looking cats. To be fair, many of these problems have been addressed. But the damage is done. Obamacare looks overambitious and poorly conceived.  ..........But rarely has a presidency been so damned by its own president. He has alienated much of the Congress, run a foreign policy based upon a conscious rejection of world leadership, spent too much, expanded the welfare state, and failed to ensure that his administration is at least functional."