In conversations with a dozen Democratic politicians, with a few exceptions, there is a pervasive pessimism about the next several years. Almost all requested anonymity, not out of fear, they say, but to avoid giving solace to Republicans.

The political environment, they say, is as poisonous as it ever was. It isn’t much of an exaggeration to say that when most House Republicans wake up, their first thought is, “How can we stick it to Obama today?”

The fiscal struggles won’t be settled in the next few months; more likely they’ll be prolonged through the year, crowding out most other issues, with the possible exceptions of immigration and gun violence legislation.

The president shows few signs of reaching out or broadening his horizon. If anything, Capitol Hill Democrats say, the inner circle is more closed. Obama, most recently at a news conference last week, deprecates the role of relationships in politics; he’s dismissive of the notion that all would be better if he would just drink whiskey with lawmakers, as Lyndon Johnson did.