Even before the drubbing his party suffered in last week’s congressional election, President Obama was visibly frustrated by Republicans’ tenacious opposition to his second-term agenda. Now he’s heading into the final years of his presidency facing a Congress that will be even harder to deal with. Does this mean Obama’s last lap is destined to be a hopeless, unrewarding slog?
Not necessarily. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both spent their final two years in office with Congress in the hands of the opposition, and they’re now the most revered presidents of the last half-century.
By at least one measure, Reagan and Clinton had it worse than Obama when they rounded the six-year mark. Reagan was mired in the Iran-Contra scandal, which drove his popularity as low as 43%, about where Obama’s is now. Clinton was getting himself impeached.