If ever 47 minutes illustrated the frustration, tantalizing promise and ambivalence of a second term, this was it.
President Barack Obama, marking the 100th day since he delivered an ambitious inaugural address brimming with expansive plans, sparred with the White House press over a succession of issues over which he has conspicuously clipped control – from his response to the “game-changer” revelation that Syrian government forces used sarin gas, to the failure of his gun control push, to his continued efforts to shutter the Guantanamo Bay detention facility over the objections of Congressional Republicans and Democrats.
“Mr. President, you are a hundred days into your second term…my question to you is do you still have the juice to get the rest of your agenda through this Congress?” asked ABC’s Jonathan Karl – eliciting a surprised chuckle and “goll-y” from the commander-in-chief during a Tuesday morning press conference in the White House briefing room.
“You know… as Mark Twain said, you know, rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated at this point,” said Obama, who seemed a lot less lighthearted than during his sharp-elbowed stand-up routine at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday.
Obama isn’t close to being powerless, five months after a convincing second-term victory that left Republicans in a state of agitated soul-searching. His approval rating remains above 50 percent most weeks in most polls, he’s far and away the most trusted figure in Washington, and on the majority of big issues – from background checks to the debt ceiling – he has public opinion firmly on his side.
Yet he finds himself hemmed in by the familiar constraints of partisanship, world events and the shackles of his own commitments.
When it comes to Syria, Obama seems intent on not repeating the mistakes of George W. Bush in Iraq – even as his critics accuse him of replicating the errors of Bill Clinton in Rwanda.
“When I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I’ve got to make sure I’ve got the facts,” he said . “That’s what the American people would expect. And if we end up rushing to judgment without hard effective evidence, then we can find ourselves in a position where we can’t mobilize the international community.”
Obama has said that the use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” and be a “game-changer” but he downplayed that rhetoric Tuesday, saying only that the discovery would force him to “rethink the range of options that are available to us.”
Read more at POLITICO.