The failure of the White House and Congress to seriously address the nation's fiscal situation is certain to broaden the belief among many voters that the U.S. political system is broken.
Obama won the presidency on the strength of his message and the skills of the messenger. Now the talk of hope and change feels out of tune when so many Americans are out of work, over-mortgaged, and worried that life will be even tougher for their children.
Once a popular Alaska governor with a modest record of accomplishment, Palin could conceivably revive her reputation in this era of short memories. But it's hard to imagine her name atop the GOP ballot in 2016, when a cast of heavyweights who sat out 2012 will be vying for the nomination.
Obama still has work to do with the vision thing. Convincing voters that he has a credible, practical plan to turn the nation around is a process, not a speech.
Obama might do well to remember that his fast rise from the Illinois state Senate was due in large part to an uncanny ability to make friends and find mentors.
Obama is capable - as evidenced by his first-term success with health care reform. But mandate-building requires humility, a trait not easily associated with him.
Obama does not need to worry as much as past Democratic presidents about being labeled soft on national security - not after giving the order that led to the assassination of Osama bin Laden. No, his biggest concern is being labeled tone deaf on joblessness and debt.
Obama considers himself above deal-making and back-slapping, political necessities he often delegates to Vice President Joe Biden and other lesser sorts.
Movies such as 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' in 1939 to 'Dave' in 1993 portray Washington leaders as the ultimate Everymen - decent people just like you and me, only thrust onto greatness.
Most political journalists come to Washington because they're snappy writers, big thinkers, or news breakers. Me? My ticket to the big leagues had little to do with talent. It was mostly about the governor I was covering, Bill Clinton.
It's an appeal as old as America and its presidency: This is an extraordinary country populated by hard-working, big-dreaming, freedom-loving people graced by God when they're not pulling themselves up by the bootstraps.
I've been leading newsrooms for a while now and it's been an honor serving as Editor in Chief of N.J., but I really think that my best shot at moving the needle in politics is by getting close to it - by reading, reporting, tweeting and writing.
Don't kid yourself. President Obama's decision to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan before he stands for reelection is not driven by the United States' 'position of strength' in the war zone as much as it is by grim economic and political realities at home.
Climate change was a point of division between Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney. The president declared climate change a global threat, acknowledged that the actions of humanity were deepening the crisis, and pledged to do something about it if elected.
By nominating Chuck Hagel to be his Defense secretary, President Obama is putting forward an aloof contrarian who doesn't suffer fools - a striving politician who considers himself above politics.
Barack Obama won a second term but no mandate. Thanks in part to his own small-bore and brutish campaign, victory guarantees the president nothing more than the headache of building consensus in a gridlocked capital on behalf of a polarized public.
'Argo,' 'Lincoln,' and 'Zero Dark Thirty,' three films honored with Best Picture Oscar nominations, lionize their Washington-anchored protagonists as crafty, competent, and virtually incorruptible.
AP promoted me to the White House beat because I knew Clinton, his family, friends, and staff better than anybody in the national press corps. Those contacts helped me break a few stories and get my career in Washington jump-started.
One of Obama's most impressive attributes is his quiet confidence: Voters sense that he is comfortable in his own skin, a dedicated father and friend who won't waste time with the phony rituals of Washington.
Political consultants are pugilists, masters in the dark art of negativity. Which is why it's surprising to hear Democrats such as Steve McMahon and Republicans like Rich Galen urging their presidential candidates to be more, well, positive.
Republicans would have preferred the court overturn the health care bill, an act that would have underscored Obama's biggest liability - the perception among voters, including those who like and trust him, that he has been ineffective.
Obama shows no sign of easing up on negativity.
Obama will learn from his mistakes.
In times of tumult, voters are likely to forgive a president, if not reward him, for compromises made in service of solutions.
Don't stigmatize in a rush to explain inexplicable evil.
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