(NATIONALJOURNAL) — You can make a compelling case that 2014 was the worst year for President Obama since, well, the year before. And, in fact, the president spent much of this year trying to recover from some body blows he took in the final months of 2013, when, in short order, Congress rebuffed him on Syria and the federal health care exchange imploded.
Those setbacks ate away at Obama's public support. According to Gallup, the president began 2014 with a 41 percent approval rating, and he's ending it a tick or two higher. He's also ending the year as a certified lame duck, facing two final years with a hostile Congress and the political conversation centering around the likes of Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and Rand Paul.
Losing the Senate punctuated a year when Obama again saw more bad moments than good, and largely garnered more criticism than praise, especially from fellow Democrats, who were quick to blame him as the party's political fortunes declined. More that that, though, it was a year of stomach-churning uncertainty, with one airliner disappearing over the Pacific and another being shot down over Europe, a savage terrorist threat on the march in Iraq, continued civil war in Syria, and Ebola raging through Africa and touching the U.S.
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