This week should have made President Obama wonder why he was running for a second term: he showed the Reverse Midas Touch on every issue he came near. His former aura of brilliance looked chipped and faded.
First, there was the open mic deal he attempted to negotiate with Russian President Medvedev. Aside from the merits, and the fact that it evoked the villain in a cheesy James Bond knock-off, there was the question of competence. How did this happen? How does someone who has been president for three years not consider that the mic might be hot? And his staff? It's not like he was making small talk with a Medal of Honor recipient: this was the puppet of a regime that would like to pay back the U.S. for ending their quest for world domination. Even given that Medvedev is the puppet rather than the puppeteer, one would have hoped for a little more care, a little more caution in dealing with him.
Second, there was the Obamacare argument at the Supreme Court. The SG's bumbling performance reflected badly on the president who appointed him. To be sure, The SG didn't have much to work with in terms of either law or facts. But still, the question of what Congress cannot do under the Commerce Clause -- the limiting principle -- was asked almost verbatim 20 years ago in the Lopez argument. The SG, and Obama, knew it was coming. They had two years to prepare. Nonetheless they were speechless.
Finally, gas prices continued their steady creep upward. Americans will be very conscious of this fact as they fill up the tank for Spring Break, those who are fortunate enough to have a job and a little money to drive someplace warm. What if Obama gets his wish and we get European prices? As Mitch Daniels pointed out, this is the one domestic goal in which Obama is succeeding. Imagine five more years of similar gas price increases. We would have Jimmy Carter-sized inflation. And we would see a change in population trends for Americans. Simply, put, we would have less children, like Europeans.
The first time I saw all those tiny cars in Europe, I was mystified. Then I realized: there are no mini- vans because their families are so much smaller than American families and because gas is so expensive. The toy cars are all they can afford, and subsequently all they need.
So as we gas up our mini-vans this week, let's consider this one domestic achievement of the Obama administration and hope that by the time Spring Break ends, the Republican primary will also have come to a close.