Now, President Barack Obama must limp into his final two years in office.
All second-term presidents lose considerable clout at this mark. But Obama’s time as a lame duck comes amid a political climate so fractured that compromise with Congress is all but impossible. And the Republican takeover of the Senate only further complicates his power to confront a confounding array of foreign and domestic policy challenges.
The range of crises is daunting.
Though the U.S. economy is growing at a healthy clip, wages are stagnant and the global economy is faltering. The Islamic State has racked up victories in Iraq and Syria, testing the administration’s policies, even as the U.S. rains down air strikes. The appearance of the deadly Ebola virus in the U.S. has rattled Americans and raised questions about whether a weary White House can handle several crises at once. A budget deal that bought peace with Congress for a while is nearing its end.