Triumphant Obama Faces New Foe in ‘Second-Term Curse’


Now that President Obama has overcome Mitt Romney, “super PACs” and a sluggish economy, he faces a challenge with deep roots in political history: what historians and commentators call the “second-term curse.

It is almost a truism that second terms are less successful than first terms, especially domestically. Franklin Delano Roosevelt lost his hold on Congress with his 1937 plan to pack the Supreme Court. Ronald Reagan faced the 1986 Iran-contra scandal. Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998. Richard Nixon resigned to avoid that fate in 1974.

Even George Washington had angry mobs surrounding his house in Philadelphia to denounce him for the Jay Treaty with Britain dealing with the aftermath of the Revolutionary War; they wanted him to side with France.

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