President Obama emerged from last week's midterm election rejected by voters, hobbled politically and doomed to a final two years in office suffering from early lame-duck syndrome. That, at least, was the consensus in both parties. No one seems to have told Mr. Obama. In the 10 days since "we got beat," as he put it, by Republicans who captured the Senate and bolstered control over the House, Mr. Obama has flexed his muscles on immigration, climate change and the Internet, demonstrating that he still aspires to enact sweeping policies that could help define his legacy.
Last week, President Barack Obama's party took a beating in the midterm elections, but this week there's already some swagger returning to his step. Obama's landmark deal with China to cut greenhouse gas emissions, announced Wednesday, is a move that, the White House feels, shows just how much the president can do without Congress.... As Obama trumpeted the climate deal during a news conference here, he didn't sound much like a president who just got his hat handed to him back home.
Insomuch as there was any analysis of what the results would mean for the next two years, it tended to dwell on when the President would recognize the error of his ways. In the narrative promulgated by the panjandrums of the Washington commentariat, this would involve publicly acknowledging his grave character flaws, disassembling the tight-knit circle of aides that surrounds him, inviting over some Capitol Hill bigwigs (and possibly some media bigwigs) for whiskey-and-poker evenings, and generally being less of an arrogant, aloof jerk. After Obama went on CBS's "Face the Nation" over the weekend and made comments similar to ones he had offered in his press conference, Bob Woodward, during a panel discussion later in the show, criticized the President's failure to make clear that he was now willing to listen to, and compromise with, the Republicans. It was the same old Obama, Woodward lamented. In that, Woodward was almost certainly correct. Rather than seeking to reinvent himself as a glad-hander or a triangulator, Obama spent the first week of his two-year term as Lame-Duck-in-Chief doing what he usually does: quietly going about his business, using the levers of a divided government to advance bits and pieces of his agenda, and no doubt hoping, that, at some point, his supporters and critics alike will recognize that his actions add up to something of significance. And, lo and behold, he had quite a bit of success.