“Administration meltdowns are hardly novel. In almost every presidency there comes a moment when sheer chaos, whether self-induced or the result of an outside crisis, takes hold.

“Vietnam had effectively destroyed Lyndon Johnson by 1967. Watergate unraveled the Richard Nixon administration, as the disgraced president resigned in the face of certain impeachment.Gerald Ford could not whip inflation and was not reelected. One-termer Jimmy Carter was undone by the Iranian hostage crisis and skyrocketing oil prices.

“For a time, it seemed that Ronald Reagan’s second term might not survive the Iran-Contra scandal. George H. W. Bush could not be reelected after he broke his promise not to raise taxes and Ross Perot entered the 1992 race. The popular Bill Clinton was impeached over the Monica Lewinsky affair and limped out of office tainted. The insurgency in Iraq and the fallout from Hurricane Katrina crashed for good the once-high poll ratings of George W. Bush.

“The Obama administration over the last month has seemed on the verge of one of these presidential meltdowns.”

***

“The latest action happened Wednesday, when the House passed a measure to move the [Keystone] pipeline forward. Before the vote, Obama issued a veto threat. The House approved the pipeline anyway — by a veto-proof majority, 293 to 127. Sixty-nine Democrats abandoned the president to vote with Republicans. That’s a lot of defections…

“‘We’re right around the corner from actually passing it,’ says a well-informed Senate source. ‘Two-hundred-ninety-three votes in the House is a gigantic number. People want this thing.’…

“If he signs the bill, Obama would surely try to save face by claiming his concerns about the pipeline’s routing and approval process had been met. But there’s no way it would be seen as anything less than a major defeat.”

***

“US leadership has lost some of its luster abroad, suggesting President Barack Obama can’t count on as much global euphoria as he gears up for a fierce reelection campaign, a new survey found Thursday.

“The report card was particularly dire from Serbia and Iran where approval ratings for the White House were below 10 percent. India, Cyprus, Belarus and Egypt also gave the Obama administration less than stellar marks.

“‘US leadership ratings in 2011 failed to regain the momentum they lost in 2010 and instead remained static or retreated even more in some places,’ said the ‘US-Global Leadership Project’ report, released jointly by Gallup and the Meridian International Center.”

***

“In American politics, there are actual problems and perceived problems. And when it comes to that exorbitant GSA trip to Las Vegas or the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia, those are perceived problems — that somehow the government isn’t working and a handful of employees aren’t taking their jobs seriously. The question, in this election year, is whether that perception hurts the guy running the government. Make no mistake: These scandals aren’t coming from the Obama White House or from the aides working closest with the president. More importantly, the Obama White House hasn’t tolerated that ‘Government Gone Wild’ behavior (see the GSA resignation, as well as those exits from the Secret Service). And Barney Frank made a good point in his fascinating interview with New York magazine that the media focuses only when something negative happens in government, usually ignoring the positive. But the attention on these GSA and Secret Service stories only sullies the government’s reputation. Bottom line: The government can’t afford another one to surface again anytime soon, and neither can the party that has come to represent the idea that government is at least part of the solution to collective problems — the Democrats.”

***

“With the country’s serious economic challenges, all the president can offer is the Buffett Rule? Mr. Obama is shriveling before our eyes—not physically, but in stature and leadership. No wonder the average of all polls since Rick Santorum suspended his campaign April 11 shows Mr. Obama leading Mitt Romney by only 46.4% to 45.6%.

“We may be at a political tipping point where acts confirm impressions that become impossible to shake. Mr. Obama is in danger of being seen as weak, inept and not up to the job. If Mr. Romney calls the president out on his small-minded political games and pivots to an ambitious reform agenda, he will make it much more likely that, come next January, Mr. Obama can turn his attention to writing his third autobiography.”

***

“FDR’s 1936 speech, however tough and accusatory, had Roosevelt’s natural personal buoyancy. Barack Obama has no such gift for popular uplift. Reagan and Bill Clinton had it, and it was an underestimated piece of George W. Bush’s two successful presidential runs…

“Can you re-run Roosevelt’s Depression strategy without Roosevelt? In tough times, some voters will buy it. But I don’t think enough will to produce a majority of the beleaguered.

“Barack Obama is asking people to cast a less-than-hopeful vote in November. Resentment is not something most people in 21st-century America carry around in the front of their heads. Once Barack Obama stirs it up, as he’s doing now, he has to sustain it for six months. He is asking people to vote out of something resembling, well, depression.”

***

“This is why I think the 2012 conventional wisdom is oversold. If Trende is right (and I believe he is), then Obama is going to have to get his job approval above 50 percent with the electorate, something he has not managed to do on a sustained basis in over two years.

“I think this president’s problem is that he misread his mandate and the public mood in 2009, which led to a historic miscalculation on his part through the summer and fall of that year when he pushed the health care bill. He compounded the error in winter 2010, forcing the bill through after Scott Brown’s victory. By that point, he just seemed to lose credibility with the vital center of the American public; he hasn’t gotten it back, and frankly I do not think he has made any concrete steps in the last two years to persuade the broad middle of the country to rejoin his cause.

“Obviously, he could still do it. He has plenty of time, but why should we be expecting that to happen? It is not like the experts are predicting the economy is going to take off between now and Election Day. Instead, we are going to get more of the same muddled growth at roughly 2-2.5 percent, far less than what is needed to reduce the deficit or create jobs. So that means it is really up to Obama to sync up with the public mood. He has not done that, and frankly I am not sure he and his people recognize the need to do that, let alone how to do it. His latest brand of class warfare shtick has not won an election since 1948 — and in fact the last three Democrats to win the presidency (Carter, Clinton, and Obama) all played directly against that common caricature of the Democratic party.”

***

“After accepting the gifts, Obama looked down at Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby who was seated in the front row and replied with a smile, ‘I was mentioning yesterday, I’m probably going to need a helmet between now and November. What do you think Shelby?'”

***

“Romney ticked off a number of statistics that he says have gotten worse under Obama — declining home ownership, increased federal debt, rising costs in the Medicare and Social Security programs. ‘Virtually nothing the president has done — including his stimulus, which protected the government but did not encourage the private sector — virtually nothing he has done has made it more likely for people to get jobs,’ Romney said.

“In a line that got a laugh from the audience, Romney predicted that the president’s reelection committee will have to change some of the visual aspects of his second acceptance speech as well. ‘One thing I am convinced that you are not going to see at the Democratic Convention — you are not going to see President Obama standing alongside Greek columns,’ he said. ‘He is not going to want to remind anybody of Greece’ — a country deeply in debt.”