It's President Obama's 53rd birthday on Monday and he started celebrating over the weekend by doing the thing he loves most: Playing golf.
He may have a powerful military and a money factory at his disposal, but just like the rest of us, he'd appreciate a few presents to make up for his disappearing youth. (And we're not talking about a Russian CD holder, a "Witcher" swag bag, or any of the other 245 gifts he's received from foreign countries since he took office.)
But also just like the rest of us, he's probably going to be disappointed.
Here, then, are five gifts that the president is not getting for his birthday.
What began as Obama's top domestic priority following his re-election has become the bane of his second term. House Republicans have ignored a comprehensive Senate bill and done nothing on their own, while some of Obama's allies on the left turned on him over his administration's deportation policies.
Now, a migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border has given the president a new immigration headache and made a once-winning political issue for him a loser.
Obama may act on his own to try to stem the border crisis and grant temporary worker permits to undocumented immigrants, but barring a major political turnaround, comprehensive immigration reform is likely dead for the duration of his presidency.
Foreign policy had been considered a strength for Obama throughout his first term. Now, the world is falling apart on his watch. Efforts to forge a Middle East peace deal have exploded into a war between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has reversed U.S. military gains in key areas of Iraq, and after an attempted reset with Russia, tensions with the former superpower are at their highest since the Cold War.
Obama would surely like at least a few of these crises to calm down, but as he wearily noted on Friday, the U.S. can only do so much.
Apparently people have forgotten that America, as the most powerful country on Earth, still does not control everything around the world. And so our diplomatic efforts often take time. They often will see progress and then a step backwards. That’s been true in the Middle East. That’s been true in Europe. That’s been true in Asia. That’s the nature of world affairs. It’s not neat, and it’s not smooth."
Just a Little Bit of Credit
Five-and-a-half years into Obama's presidency, the economy is finally, at long last, turning a corner. The G.D.P. jumped by an annual rate of 4 percent in the second quarter, jobless claims are near an eight-year low, the unemployment rate of 6.2 percent is almost respectable, and the six-month streak of employers adding more than 200,000 jobs a month hasn't happened in 17 years.
Yet no one seems to be paying attention, and Obama is a little miffed.
I think it’s useful for me to end by just reminding folks that, in my first term, if I had a press conference like this, typically, everybody would want to ask about the economy and how come jobs weren’t being created, and how come the housing market is still bad, and why isn’t it working. Well, you know what, what we did worked. And the economy is better. And when I say that we’ve just had six months of more than 200,000 jobs that hasn’t happened in 17 years that shows you the power of persistence. It shows you that if you stay at it, eventually we make some progress. All right?"
No, really. There are few things that Obama would like more than for House Republicans to move toward impeaching him. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has taken the somewhat more cautious step of trying to sue him for circumventing Congress, and even that provocative action has been a boon for Democratic fundraising efforts ahead of the November midterm elections. With the G.O.P. likely headed for gains in Congress, Democrats need something to motivate, or outright, scare, their base into turning out to vote this fall.
Nothing would do the trick better than impeachment. While Boehner swears it's not happening, Democrats won't stop talking about it.
This weekend,Steve King predicts impeachment: http://t.co/d2kui3RsrC— Eric Schultz (@Schultz44) July 28, 2014
3rd highest ranking Repub in House refusing to rule out pres impeachment proves how far House GOP will go to push reckless partisan agenda— Steve Israel (@IsraelDCCC) July 27, 2014
A Republican Alternative for Obamacare
It might not jazz up the Democratic base quite as much as impeachment, but a long-promised and long-delayed legislative proposal from Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act would give Democrats a target to rally their voters against in the fall. While conservatives are demanding a vote on a Republican health care plan, they aren't likely to get one before the election. Boehner knows the Democrats are itching to attack it, and he's going to play it safe.