By Noah Rothman
Before the confetti settled on election night in 2012, President Barack Obama’s administration and supporters were ready to get to work. As a number of media outlets observed – or warned, depending on your perspective — second-term presidents usually have a short window to achieve significant legislative accomplishments. Between 12 and 18 months into a second presidential term, the window closes. Exogenous events or increasing excitement surrounding the next presidential contest overtake the current president’s ability to capture the attention of the nation and, with them, the Congress.
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Now, nearly nine months into the president’s second term, Obama is already developing the symptoms associated with lame duck syndrome. Most of Obama’s predecessors who were not wrestling with an unpopular war or a debilitating scandal had already or were on track to achieve their legacy accomplishments by this point in their second terms. But this president seems to be captive to events. Never having had the best relationship with Congress, Obama’s every effort to pass major legislative reforms has been stymied by unwilling allies and unhelpful adversaries. Furthermore, the president appeared to lack concentration. Before the debate over this reform or the other was complete, the president had shifted focus to the next all-consuming crisis. As a result, Obama’s political capital is today greatly diminished.