The 100-day mark is a measure for first-term presidents, not re-
Yet the end of April is a propitious moment for an early
evaluation of how President Barack Obama and congressional
Republicans are meeting the aspirations set out in January.
The answer: Both are falling short.
The White House thought a comfortably re-elected president would
have more clout, and face less-resistant Republicans, to strike a
compromise on the deficit, avoid the mindless across- the-board
sequestration cuts, pass a gun-control measure, and immigration
overhaul and get Congress to embark on a broad, new agenda,
including universal preschool education, a higher minimum wage, an
ambitious infrastructure program and something on climate change.
With the exception of immigration, this agenda is going nowhere.
Democrats as well as Republicans on Capitol Hill say this is
partly because of the Obama style, which is unchanged from the first
administration: a reticence to negotiate, and an inability to close
on what supporters think are good deals. Complaints about White
House insularity are as pronounced as ever.
Critics say the Obamaites deluded themselves in suggesting that
they had a mandate from the November election.
"Their campaign strategy was to say Mitt Romney is a rich white
guy that doesn't care about people like you, a vulture capitalist
who ships jobs overseas," says Haley Barbour, the former Republican
governor of Mississippi. "Where do you get a mandate from that?"
Some issues, such as ending tax cuts for the wealthy, were
debated to Obama's advantage last fall. But if Republicans don't
feel threatened by Mr. Obama on those questions, any mandate is
It would then seem reasonable to assume that the Republicans are
the beneficiaries of these shortcomings. Wrong.
After losing a presidential election it expected to win, the
party had public post-mortems and came to some obvious conclusions:
Republicans have a problem with young voters, Hispanics and women,
the groups that hold the future of the body politic.
A special panel created by Republican National Committee Chairman
Reince Priebus cited those concerns, as well as deficiencies in
technology and communications, and a perception that the party isn't
inclusive and is "for the rich." To escape this image as the party
of privilege, the report suggested that Republicans attack business
malfeasance, corporate welfare and lavish executive-retirement
They've made a little progress on the social-cultural matters. …