Will Obama be another in a long line of presidents who have suffered big second-term difficulties?


Since the end of World War II, every U.S. president who has served more than four years has experienced significant difficulties in his second term.

Harry Truman’s problems were such that he left office with a record-low approval rating. Dwight Eisenhower had a spy plane shot down in Soviet air space. Lyndon Johnson’s military adventurism in Vietnam was his undoing. Richard Nixon was forced to resign over the Watergate scandal. Ronald Reagan’s legacy was tarnished by the Iran-Contra affair. Bill Clinton was impeached over the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. George W. Bush presided over two unpopular wars and a collapse of the U.S. economy.

And now Barack Obama faces grim prospects, as we see HERE:

Recent events suggest that the 44th president may not be immune to the phenomenon that historians call the “second-term curse.”

Not four months after his ambitious inaugural address, President Obama finds himself struggling to move his legislative agenda through an unbudging Congress.

And over the past week, two flaring controversies — one over his administration’s handling of the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other American in Libya, the other over Internal Revenue Service employees targeting tea party groups for special scrutiny — have dominated the discussion in Washington.

It is far from clear how big a political liability either will turn out to be.

At a minimum, they represent diversions working against a president who is keenly aware of how little time he has left to achieve big things. And they are a test of the insular Obama team’s skill at keeping its footing in an environment of hyperpartisan politics and hair-trigger media…

“After the election, the president said he was familiar with the literature on second-term difficulties,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “We scholars may be about to see whether knowledge of that history can help a president when they begin to strike.”

“What we’ve seen in the past week reignites the question scholars ask about problematic second terms,” Beschloss added. “Is it mainly a coincidence that every president of the past 80 years has had a hard time after getting reelected? Or is it somehow baked into the structure of a second-term presidency that some combination of serious troubles is going to happen?”


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