Paul Greenberg

Everybody knows this president is in political trouble, even the president himself. For he faces a growing crisis of confidence, and it's got his name all over it: Obamacare.

Day after day, Barack Obama's "signature achievement" begins to look like his signature failure. And the more he tries to grapple with it, tweak and twist it, and generally rearrange the deck chairs on this ship still again, the more trouble he invites. And the more abject and prolix his apologies for it become, the bigger this fiasco becomes.

Thursday the president offered a hazy, temporary fix for only one part of this fine mess he's got us all into, and maybe only because it's the part that's drawn the most fire for now: forcing millions of Americans to give up the insurance they have now and still want. But other snafus are sure to be revealed.

Even if the president manages to change this law by executive fiat, as has become his wont, it remains a political, administrative and logistical nightmare. His glib assurances that some kind of Technical Surge will turn this political albatross into a political asset ... resound ever more hollow.

Millions of Americans may actually have believed his promise that they could keep their private insurance if they liked it. But that was before all those cancellation notices began arriving -- and even more may now be on the way.

The president has assured all those anxious policyholders that they really will be able to keep their insurance -- for one (1) year. After that, who knows? Which is why his latest attempt to assuage their anger might suceeed, but for only one (1) year. It'll be a year of uncertainty and anxiety, for what happens after that? The president may wind up not easing this confidence of crisis in his presidency but prolonging it.

If you think this is a political crisis, it's nothing compared to the rebuke administered to another smooth-talking president a couple of decades ago. Remember the congressional elections of 1994? They were dubbed the Republican Revolution, and for good reason. The GOP took control of both houses of Congress that year by impressive, even historic, margins. It picked up eight seats in the Senate and gained 54 in the House. And it did so by offering voters a Contract With America that promised just about a complete reversal of all the man in the White House that year had come to represent -- ever bigger and ever worse government.

The political turnaround that fateful year was more than dramatic; it was historic. Talk about a change: Before those midterm elections in 1994, Republicans hadn't held a majority in the House for 40 years -- not since the Congress that was elected alongside Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.