IS THAT haunted season here in Washington again. I refer not to Halloween and the accompanying skeletons, synthetic cobwebs and plastic creepy-crawlies that recently populated our front lawns, but to the spectre that regularly returns at this stage in the political cycle here – the Curse of the Second Term.
This time a year ago, Barack Obama was on the brink of becoming the 16th American president to win two successive elections. A couple of days later, Mitt Romney was soundly defeated, and chastened Republicans, it was imagined, would retire to lick their wounds.
Backed by a another solid popular mandate, it was said, Obama had a rare opportunity; a 12- or 18-month window in which to push through his agenda and build a legacy for the ages, free of the pressure of ever running for election again. So much for that. Instead, all the talk is of the “curse”, that supposedly immutable truth of presidencies. Back in the 19th century, Lincoln was assassinated just 41 days after delivering his immortal second inaugural speech. The second term