The recent history of two-term presidencies shows that things could be a lot better. By this point President Bill Clinton had already struck a landmark budget-balancing deal with Congressional Republicans.
It also could be much worse. Richard M. Nixon’s presidency began unraveling in the first six months of his second term, Dwight D. Eisenhower faced an emerging recession and Ronald Reagan battled budget woes, terrorism and health problems. George W. Bush struggled with the deteriorating Iraq war.
But all four ultimately managed significant second-term accomplishments despite partisan opposition on Capitol Hill, leading historians to caution against predictions that the second Obama administration is doomed.
“The media culture has been too pessimistic because Obama caught a couple of punches,” said Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University professor. Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, called Mr. Obama’s current problems “quite modest” compared with recent predecessors.