The Republicans are now the ones offering ideas of progress or reform, while the Democrats fiercely fight to protect the established order of entitle-ments, tax hikes, and obeisance to unions, greens, and feminists. Even when Obama and Biden have been highly caffeinated, they have not stated their plans and goals for a second term. They are too busy painting a socialist–realist mural of Romney and Ryan as maniacal reactionaries. They are too preoccupied with protecting subsidies for Big Bird, Planned Parenthood, and windmills.

Four years ago, President Obama and Vice President Biden were bursting with plans. Obama said he would cut the deficit, middle-class taxes, and health care premiums, while also creating a new entitlement to health insurance. He said he’d revamp America’s energy, education, and immigration policies for the 21st century. He delivered a speech in the early months of his term saying he’d put America on a “new foundation.” His 2011 State of the Union address was devoted to “winning the future.”

But all of these big dreams have crashed against the granite wall of reality. The deficit is up, the price of fuel and health care premiums has increased, incomes are down, and tax increases loom. Obama is exhausted. His political capital is spent. The boldest proposal he’s put forward recently is hiring another 100,000 teachers. That doesn’t even rise to the level of small-ball. It’s mini-golf.