WASHINGTON -- The sunny, confident President Barack Obama who was the master of all that he surveyed at the White House Correspondents' Dinner last Saturday night was nowhere in sight at the podium in the White House press room Tuesday morning. In his place was a glum character, whose gloomy demeanor matched the lack of legislative motion he was discussing -- and the many obstacles (from Republicans to Russians) he complained were in his way.
After listening to a recitation of his political predicament, the president said, “If you put it that way, maybe I should just pack up and go home.” It was a joke, of course, but no one laughed and, judging from his attitude, it almost seemed as though he wished he could.
Only when asked about Jason Collins did the president become animated and eager to respond. Obama praised the NBA center for his decision to come out of the closet about his sexual orientation and said that the American people should be proud of the growing acceptance of gays and lesbians.
In terms of energy and forward lean, Tuesday morning's performance was about as static as the Obama presidency has ever been.
His administration is not the first to fall into a Slough of Despond early in the second term. It’s all but inevitable. Still, the session was notable primarily for the complexity and intractability of the issues Obama is now facing.
Syria is an unholy mess, a proud and ancient country being ground to pieces in a bloody conflict between a ruthless dictator and rebels whose ideas may well be no more tolerant or democratic.
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