“Then there is that ever-important variable, time.

“In the scenario best for the Democrats, the Tea Party peaked with Mr. Brown’s election, and Democrats have time to recover. ‘We’ve had our ’94 wake-up call,’ Mr. Greenberg said. ‘We may look back and say they played this out a year early.’…

“And then there is the skeptical view, which, like Mr. Cook, sees only the mounting problems: stubborn unemployment, a paralyzed Washington, the drip-drip of scandal and high unfavorability ratings.

“‘There’s more time for things to change,’ he said, ‘but there’s more time for things to snowball.’

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“A thrashing of the Democrats in the mid-terms would not necessarily be the beginning of the end for Mr Obama: Bill Clinton was re-elected two years after the Republicans swept the House and the Senate in November 1994. But Mr Clinton was an operator in a way Mr Obama patently is not. His lack of experience, his dependence on rhetoric rather than action, his disconnection from the lives of many millions of Americans all handicap him heavily. It is not about whose advice he is taking: it is about him grasping what is wrong with America, and finding the will to put it right. That wasted first year, however, is another boulder hanging from his neck: what is wrong needs time to put right. The country’s multi-trillion dollar debt is barely being addressed; and a country engaged in costly foreign wars has a President who seems obsessed with anything but foreign policy – as a disregarded Britain is beginning to realise.

“There are lessons from the stumbling of Mr Obama for our own country as we approach a general election. Vacuous promises of change are hostages to fortune if they cannot be delivered upon to improve the living conditions of a people. The slickness of campaigning that comes from a combination of heavy funding and public relations expertise does not inevitably translate into an ability to govern. There is no point a nation’s having the audacity of hope unless it also has the sophistication and the will to turn it into action. As things stand, Barack Obama and America under his leadership do not.”

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“A Republican on Capitol Hill points out that we’re going through a health care press coverage time warp. In each of the following four headline pairs, one is from this morning. The other is from last year. See if you can guess which is which.”

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