Just a flesh wound: Obama's not over

Predictably, the self-referential pundocracy in Washington has declared the Obama presidency over, kaput, ready for the history books. It's an easy riff for the people desperate to fill a 24-hour news cycle. How better to break through the media cacophony than with a jaunty headline like “Obama presidency over”? 

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Like Monty Python's knight, the Obama administration has had a series of "flesh wounds" in 2013. The embarrassing non-launch of the Affordable Care Act website, a muddled reaction to the Syria crisis and the utter lack of leverage over the reactionary House of Representatives have conveyed an image of a White House with loose hands on the national reins.

Yet often forgotten in such analysis-light reporting is the fact that the future is not visible today or in panel discussions of news networks or even in columns that explain the reasons for the imminent collapse of the Obama presidency with the solemnity of an obituary.

Here are the top five reasons the Obama administration will be a growing force in our national affairs for at least two more years, that is, before the 2016 horse race launches with full abandon.

  1. Nothing teaches like failure. Reports of a president enraged by his team's fumbling of the ACA website launch have been seared in the collective White House consciousness. Failure is not an option, and the disaster of HealthCare.gov's bug-ridden takeoff is a bitter lesson learned. You can bet that future plans and initiatives will be vetted and revetted with the assumption that everything could go wrong — and usually does without vigilance.

  2. ObamaCare is finally working. Beyond the lingering process issues that will be resolved, the hypermaligned Affordable Care Act is signing up people at a faster pace. The insurance industry is betting on ObamaCare and ready to launch a massive recruitment marketing campaign. Nothing beats back bad press like good press, and that is starting to happen now. By the 2014 elections, there may be a whole new narrative.

  3. Often the best-made plans to refocus on American domestic needs and let the world shoulder more of responsibility for its own security get upended by international events. Just last week an increasingly reckless China almost collided one of their warships with an American missile cruiser sailing in international waters. More recently, Saudi Arabia has intimated that it may take on Iran on its own. And one should never discount the possibility of a major flare-up in Israel and Palestine. You can bet that an unexpected crisis will change the national agenda.

  4. The Congress has become a national punch line. In some polls, its popularity is measured in the single digits. An Obama White House not burdened by flesh wounds can and will act as an effective counterbalance to the dysfunction on Capitol Hill. The situation is ripe for an assertive presidential offensive that creates significant political pressure on the legislative branch.

  5. When Winston Churchill was informed that Italy would likely join Germany in a second world war, he is reported to have said, "That seems only fair. We had them last time!” The almost farcical actions of today's Republican Party and its parasitic partners in the Tea Party are certainly a huge asset to the Obama administration. Case in point: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) recently declared the debt-ceiling vote would have to be accompanied by concessions from the White House. After the recent disaster of the GOP's government shutdown and their concurrent threat to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States, the supposed “grown-ups” in the Republican Party are threatening the same kind of economic disaster that failed them as a political lever in October and led to the widespread disgust of Americans and a collapse of confidence across the world.

Sure, the Obama administration may still go forth and fumble the ball. A more likely scenario is that with smart execution, strategic politics and the unique gift of the Republicans to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the flesh wounds of today will be healed and the critical focus of the nation will once again shift fully to the Monty Python Flying Circus that is today's Congress.