WASHINGTON - President Obama is on a two-week vacation in Martha's Vineyard, as wars rage across the Middle East and Ukraine, terrorists threaten to topple Iraq, and Republicans are on the brink of capturing the Senate.
Around the country, a deepening mood of anger and anxiety permeates America's electorate, with the midterm elections a mere three months away.
And in a brewing political civil war among Democrats, Hillary Clinton has unleashed a sharp attack on Obama's timid foreign policy, calling for a more muscular response to the spread of global terrorism.
The president's job approval scores remain in the low 40s and show no signs of improvement on the problems voters are angry about -- from jobs, incomes, the budget deficits and a rash of disturbing government scandals that have exposed an incompetent and corrupt administration.
"There is a lot of angst about whether this country is continuing to provide an opportunity to live the American dream," says Democrat Ted Strickland, former governor of Ohio. "The overarching concern is an economy that is not providing an opportunity for working people."
Hurtling toward the fall elections, the Democrats' political prospects, and Obama's presidency, were sinking fast.
Republicans have a political lock on the House and had a better than even chance of taking over the Senate where they need only six seats to make Harry Reid the minority leader.
Last week, those chances improved significantly when Democratic Sen. John Walsh of Montana announced he will not seek election in the wake of a story broken by The New York Times that said he had plagiarized portions of a paper he wrote at the U.S. Army War College.
According to the Times, the six recommendations he made in a foreign policy study were "taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic."
Democrats will choose a new candidate next week, but the chances of mounting a credible campaign and raising enough money to be competitive were bleak. Before the scandal broke, polls showed GOP Rep. Steve Daines running ahead of Walsh by double digits.
This means Democrats were behind the eight ball in at least three seats their party held but that were now open due to retirements: Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, and to some extent a fourth in Iowa.
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