I must take issue with the Politico story that suggests President Obama has lost Washington. Washington is not monolithic. It is composed of many groups, power centers, tribes and stakeholders. They almost never move in unison, either for or against a president. Also, Obama hasn’t lost Washington because Republicans certainly haven’t won anything. The president is down, but I wouldn’t characterize Republicans as being up. When the president hits a pothole, even one that rattles his frame, it’s not wise for anyone to assume Obama’s presidency is over. A lot of presidential authority is self-renewing if the White House can get out of its own way and let it happen.
One key part of the Washington family is still with Obama: The left. He is its champion. Even if it occasionally shows some faux independence by being critical, more in sorrow than in anger, the starry-eyed left will never abandon this president.
My time in the White House, and observing other parts of the Washington game, has taught me that things are never as good or as bad as they seem. Presidents’ fortunes often change quickly. An international event or an attack abroad could instantly diminish the relevance of everything else and quickly rehab the president.
Also, President Obama is the luckiest politician alive and, just like in golf, in politics, luck counts. His allies in Congress, in the media and elsewhere are still out there. No one has exited the stage. They will all look for an excuse to give the president a hand, declare that the worst is over and accuse Republicans of being political zombies who won’t quit their mindless pursuit of the president. Even if nothing else intervenes, the press will eventually tire of these latest scandals and be back in the market for something new.
This wave — or, in this case, waves — will break over the president, and he will pop back up. When that happens, he will need an agenda, some energy and some luck. He’ll be back on “The View,” “60 Minutes” and late-night TV shows and on the cover of lifestyle magazines, celebrating his re-emergence and victory over adversity. The left will celebrate his resiliency. That’s not to say the scandals will not have taken their toll. They will cost the White House time, and President Obama will never again be as strong with independent voters as he once was. These scandals won’t kill Obama’s presidency, and he may walk with a limp for a while — maybe even until the end of his term — but he is certainly not out.