Salena Zito

Just because you say something does not make it true, no matter how many times you say it or how many people repeat it.

Case in point: the mantra among Washington media circles that President Obama is the new “Comeback Kid.”

Perhaps if you live in Washington, you might believe it; the press is saying it, the administration is stealthily pushing it and, if you are to believe “the Googles,” there are 26 million-plus mentions of “Comeback” and “Obama” to back-up all the hyperbole.

Well, those endless year-end reports of Obama’s political recovery during Congress’ lame-duck session are greatly exaggerated.

Let’s begin with the extension of the Bush tax cuts that Obama railed against as a candidate and then, when he began explaining why he favored extending them, he railed against them again. Awkward.

This was followed by an equally awkward press conference featuring former President Bill Clinton, called to soothe the political left and to woo the press. Clinton basically dismissed Obama at his own podium, in his own house.

Then there was the omnibus spending bill laden with more than 6,000 earmarks. The president publicly backed the $1.1 trillion spending measure; luckily for him, the U.S. Senate failed to pass it – making it a failure both for the president and for Democrats.

And then there was the Dream Act: Failure.

The Senate’s ratification of the New START missile treaty with Russia was in place months ago, and everyone knew that “don’t ask, don’t tell” eventually would be repealed. So propping them up as two “stunning comeback” moments seems just a bit of a stretch.

Quite frankly, the only comeback that Main Street America still looks for from Obama is a bipartisan focus on jobs, the economy and putting the brakes on government and spending; the last thing that Main Street is thinking about is New START or “DADT.”

Of course, moderates and independents who lean GOP simply are not as mad at Obama as they were prior to November’s midterm election. They are happy that he compromised on tax cuts but they haven't really spent much time thinking about the spending or debt that these cuts will cost.

Progressive Democrats likely are not as enthusiastic about Obama as they were pre-tax-cut-compromise. Yet with DADT and START achieved, they are slightly more willing to forgive what they see as his fiscal capitulation.

That said, this "comeback" really is only about 3 points in most polls (from 44 to 47) and probably will be very temporary.


Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.