For liberals, the reports are a worrying sign of Obama’s struggles to carry out his second-term agenda. For conservatives, they show that even if a Republican wins the White House, Washington is increasing unmanageable .

First, Obama’s woes. Some of his wounds are self-inflicted. For five years the Obama administration has displayed a destructive tendency to try to have it both ways. In a press conference Thursday, the president did so again.

In lawyerly responses, Obama said he supported journalists’ constitutional right to report but stood by the fact that his administration has carried out more criminal leak investigations than all previous administrations combined . He called for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but prevaricated on how the United States would respond to apparent Syrian government chemical weapons attacks.

Obama came into office promising openness – but from counter-terrorism to domestic policy, his White House has been secretive, insular and controlling. Yes, Republicans are bent on destroying Obama’s presidency, but an aloof president has alienated his Democratic allies.