Nothing for the White House to be cheery about in the polls. “The five yardsticks are presidential job approval, honesty, handling of  the economy, strong leadership, and the public’s impression of him personally. Being underwater on all five is extraordinary, if not unprecedented.”

(J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press) (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Secretary of State John Kerry is giddy. (Some would say, delusional): “Kerry: Israel-Palestinian peace deal has never been closer.” Actually, he might be right but not in the way he intends.

Critics of the president’s Iran policy will be happy to know there’s really no deal yet. “As it stands now, the Geneva agreement looks less solid than previously believed. Rather large gaps remain on core issues.” However, you can be sure the administration will cave on each on of these.

Liberals aren’t having a jolly good time defending Obamacare. The Atlantic complains, “The president has replaced the moral case for reform with a transactional one. That’s a mistake.”

Ukraine may still enjoy a sunny future. For now, however, things are very much up in the air. “Protesters may be occupying government buildings and staging loud rallies calling for the government to step down, but behind the scenes an equally fierce — and perhaps more decisive — tug of war is being waged among a very small and very rich group of oligarchical clans here, some of whom see their future with Europe and others with Russia. That conflict was ignited, along with the street protests, by Mr. Yanukovich’s decision to halt free trade talks with the European Union last week.”

Egypt’s new Gen. Nassar gets “Man of the Year,” but the victims of his repression aren’t having a very  merry holiday season. “Yesterday, many Egyptians were elated when TIME announced that General Abdel Fattah El Sisi — who ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected President and oversaw violent crackdowns on opposition — had won the Person of the Year reader’s choice poll.” I guess we should be thankful it wasn’t Hassan Rouhani.

Why Republicans are merry these days:  “Democrats’ hopes that their fortunes will improve as a result of upcoming fiscal debates are starting to look pretty shaky, however. Democrats may be counting on Republicans to engage in more self-destructive behavior when government funding expires in mid-January and the debt ceiling expires in February. But it looks increasingly likely that Republicans will go along with a deal, averting a spending/debt-ceiling crisis, and not repeat the disaster of this fall. Avoiding such a fight would keep most of the public’s focus on Obamacare, and, in Republicans’ eyes, give them the gift that will keep on giving. At this point, that doesn’t appear to be an unrealistic expectation.”