President Obama and the country had a rough ride in 2013.
The first big political story of 2013 actually began in December 2012, when a disturbed young man killed 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Mass. Adam Lanza's attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School initiated a political struggle over gun control that ultimately went nowhere.
Republicans in the House of Representatives forced a shutdown of the federal government in an attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Their campaign failed, and the GOP's standing dropped in public opinion polls.
Defects in administration and Web design for the ACA, though, nearly accomplished what the Republicans could not. The rollout of HealthCare.gov was a public relations disaster from which the Obama administration has not yet recovered. In Minnesota, hopes that the MNsure exchange would outperform other state-run exchanges were quickly dashed. The state exchange is already on its second director.
Despite a last-minute budget deal, Democrats and Republicans in Congress remained so antagonistic that very few laws reached the president's desk. Among the things they didn't get done was immigration reform, which many Republicans had identified as key to widening their party's appeal to voters.
Beginning early last summer, a constant presence in the news was Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency. His steady stream of leaked documents has revealed a vast surveillance operation by the NSA and sparked a national debate over the right to privacy. Snowden is living under temporary asylum in Russia.
The Daily Circuit reflects on the political events of 2013 with a group of experts.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE POLITICS OF 2013:
• Echoes of George W. Bush blues in Barack Obama's 2nd term
But no matter Obama's second term fate, his plight is already a familiar one for presidents at this point: the high of reelection and promise of lofty second-term policy achievements quickly give way to depleted staffs, an uncooperative Congress and missteps by the chief executive himself. Collateral damage in the next congressional election is practically assured, history shows; it's just a matter of how bad it will be. (POLITICO)
• How Adam Lanza Wrecked Obama's Second Term
Even in hindsight, it's almost impossible to imagine the president choosing a different path; the clamor of the victorious Left for gun-law reform was just too strong. But the ripple effect has disrupted Obama's entire year. In April came the Boston Marathon bombing, which occurred just two days before gun control officially died in the Senate. In May came a trio of mini-scandals: new revelations about Benghazi; the alleged IRS targeting of tea-party groups; and then the Justice Department's snooping on reporters. A month later, Edward Snowden's first leaks started emerging and have yet to stop. Many of these developments deepened partisan resentments. (National Journal)