Last updated: August 25. 2013 3:57AM - 174 Views

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Just four months after being sworn in for a second term as president, Barack Obama and the alleged geniuses who advise him may have fumbled away whatever chance they had to finish his presidency with a major impact.



No, he’s probably not going to get impeached and Republicans should have enough brains to stop that kind of talk. And yes, as long as he remains president, he has a major say on public policy and international affairs.



But the opportunity to dramatically push the country in a different direction while simultaneously wresting control of the House next year from the Republicans is probably a thing of the past. And Obama and his advisers have nobody to blame but themselves.



Instead of reading a history book on mistakes made by presidents after being re-elected, they just went out and made the same old blunders. They had plenty of examples ranging from Richard Nixon in 1973 to George W. Bush in 2005.



The seeds of this astonishing collapse go back to the re-election campaign last year. Rather than offering a bold and visionary plan for his second term, Obama and his advisers — like Bush in 2004 — contented themselves by relentlessly focusing on Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s years at the investment firm of Bain Capital.



When Obama won re-election with just 51 percent of the vote, he and his admirers claimed a mandate that did not exist. Like Bush who barely was re-elected in 2004, Obama and his advisers assumed voters loved him. Instead, as columnist George Will wrote after the election, Obama “has the meager mandate of not being Bain Capital.”



Armed with this alleged mandate, Obama declared a budget war on House Republicans, insisting that voters wanted heavy new taxes on the wealthy. The Republicans fought back and in the end Obama had to settle for a smaller tax increase than he demanded while accepting hundreds of billions of spending cuts that he didn’t want.



Now Obama and his advisers have become embroiled in those self-inflicted wounds that plague every administration. Did they tell Americans the truth over the cause of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi? Why did the Internal Revenue Service target only independent organizations opposed to Obama? And why would the Justice Department launch such a sweeping leak probe of a news organization such as the Associated Press?



Throughout last week, Obama and his allies fumbled for responses. Some test-drove the “Nixon was worse” argument. Trust me, that won’t work. Then, as he testified before a House panel about the Associated Press leak investigation, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sounded more like Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s spacey Jeff Spicoli: “I don’t know.”



Finally, Obama played word games as he tried to explain when he first heard that the IRS was bombarding tea party organizations seeking tax-exempt status with heavy-handed questions and warnings of perjury.



It shouldn’t have been much of a mystery. Last year, newspapers published a number of articles about tea party organizations claiming they were being singled out by the IRS.



All Obama had to do was read the March 7, 2012, editorial in T he New York Times in which the paper wrote that “taxpayers should be encouraged by complaints from tea party chapters applying for nonprofit tax status at being asked by the Internal Revenue Service to prove they are ‘social welfare’ organizations and not the political activists they so obviously are.”



Even though the economy is rebounding, the stock market is climbing and the deficit is declining, the country could use a full-time president. After all, Syria is dissolving into chaos and Iran is threatening to build a nuclear weapon. For losing control of his second term, however, Obama needs only to blame himself.



Jack Torry is chief of the Dispatch Washington Bureau.


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