Steve Chapman

Obama's honeymoon with Democratic liberals is a fading memory. Some are disillusioned by the National Security Agency surveillance, some oppose an attack in Syria, and most of them gag at the thought of Larry Summers taking over the Federal Reserve.

While most presidents try to add new achievements in their second terms, Obama is still wrangling with Congress over the central one of his first term. The House has voted some 40 times to undo Obamacare, and some members want to force a government shutdown if necessary to attain that goal.

So the president may get to relive the exquisite torture of battling Congress over the debt ceiling. Republicans show no inclination to pass the immigration reform he champions. The economy has been lousy for his entire presidency and shows every indication of staying that way.

Foreign affairs are no ray of sunshine. Vladimir Putin may have spared Obama a war in Syria, but Obama will have to take care to avoid being scammed in the deal on Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons. He has to extricate the U.S. military from Afghanistan without unleashing chaos.

North Korea reportedly has restarted a nuclear reactor to make fuel for additional nuclear weapons. Sometime in the next three years, Obama may have to decide whether to carry out a massive strike to prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb. It's enough to make a guy wish he were free to focus on his presidential library.

At the end of the brilliant 1970 biographical film "Patton," Gen. George Patton recalls that when a Roman conqueror returned home to bask in adulation, a slave rode along in his chariot, whispering, "All glory is fleeting." Obama needs no one to remind him. By now, he probably says it in his sleep.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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