It never really had to be this way.
Barack H. Obama took office in January 2009 as the 44th president of the United States after an election that many had hoped would be a “transformational” political event for a country that had just elected its first African-American president.
Not long afterward, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that his top priority would be to make Obama a one-term president. Yes, that’s right. McConnell said that defeating the president’s re-election effort would be his No. 1 priority.
That set the tone — right off the top — for the kind of relationship that the White House would have with Congress.
It hasn’t gotten any better, even as President Obama prepares to deliver his final State of the Union speech to a joint congressional session.
To be blunt, the president didn’t do his part to develop a good working relationship with Congress. I’ve lamented before how the young president never learned how to build upon those relations with his congressional friends. To be honest, the president arguably served too little time in the Senate to have crafted a lot of friendships and political alliances among his fellow legislators.
I had hoped the president could have followed the Lyndon Johnson model of transferring his Senate experience into effective legislative accomplishment.
However, Congress made it clear that it had no intention of giving any quarter to the president.
So, the president’s final State of the Union speech — which the White House says will be an “unconventional” presentation — isn’t expected to produce any bright lights of hope for a smooth and successful final year of the Obama presidency.
Republicans almost unanimously say that next to nothing will get done in this final full year of Barack Obama’s administration.
Perhaps, then, it will be left to the president simply to declare victory on the accomplishments that his presidency has delivered.
I’m wondering now if the president is going to remind us that Sen. McConnell’s top priority never came to pass.