Not too many weeks ago much of the gab in Washington was about Barack Obama’s doomed presidency. His job approval ratings were in a free fall, Democrats got their corn creamed in the mid-term congressional elections and the atmosphere inside the Beltway resembled the scenes in “Gone With The Wind” where everybody’s trying to get out of Atlanta ahead of Sherman’s marauding Yankees.
That was then, this is now: Obama’s the “comeback kid” after Democrat majorities in the lame-duck Congress passed some items on his wish list — just before the dreaded Republicans take over the House and bulk up in the Senate. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed, the New START arms control treaty was ratified and a new health care package for 9/11 first responders was created. Obama called it proof Democrats and Republicans can work together — under his leadership, of course — and scooted off to Hawaii for a luau. Stories appeared in The Washington Post, New York Times and on Web sites marveling at Obama’s resurgence. Amazing, right? Uh, no.
Lest we forget, Obama also absorbed a tax deal with Republicans that has ‘em rioting over at Moveon.org, and he and his Hill allies retreated on a gargantuan spending bill. DREAM Act legislation creating a citizenship path for illegal aliens who came to the U.S. as children, coveted by Obama, fizzled. As for Obama’s victories, the DADT repeal and New START both had significant Republican support all along. It’s not like Obama rose up and decreed their passage. Besides, as Jennifer Rubin writes on her Washington Post blog, Republicans wouldn’t trade victories on taxes, spending and the DREAM Act for wins on DADT and the treaty — “not in a million years.”
So has Obama got the “mojo” back? Unclear. Passing stuff with the help of a bunch of Democrats who won’t be back next month is hardly an objective test. Let’s see how things go when the 112th Congress comes to town before we start laying it on about comebacks.