Fred Barnes, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
John Dos Passos, the novelist and historian, once said: "Often things you think are just beginning are coming to an end." His observation was made in the 1960s. But it's true today of Barack Obama's presidency and the promise of a bright future for his second term.
Mr. Obama's re-election stirred grand expectations. The vote heralded a new liberal era, or so it was claimed. His victory was said to reflect ideological, cultural and demographic trends that could keep Democrats in the majority for years to come. His second four years in the White House would be just the beginning.
Now, six months later, the Obama administration is in an unexpected and sharp state of decline. Mr. Obama has little influence on Congress. His presidency has no theme. He pivots nervously from issue to issue. What there is of an Obama agenda consists, at the moment, of leftovers from his first term or proposals that he failed to emphasize in his re-election campaign and thus have practically no chance of passage.
Congressional Republicans neither trust nor fear the president. And Democrats on Capitol Hill, to whom Mr. Obama has never been close, have grown leery of him. In the Senate, Democrats complain privately about his interference with the biggest domestic policy matter of 2013, immigration reform. His effect, the senators believe, can only be to weaken the fragile bipartisan coalition for reform and make passage of major legislation more perilous.