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Buzz Cut:
• Amid more bad news, Obama returns to base baiting
• Hillary hits Hobby Lobby hard on campaign trail
• ObamaCare report cards expected today
• Crossroads reserves $20 million in key states
• With your third cup of coffee…

So far, 2014 is shaping to be the worst year of President Obama’s tenure. The economy is bad, scotching a Democratic plan to hold the Senate majority by touting the long-awaited economic recovery. The Supreme Court, which once spared Obama’s signature health insurance law, has turned from friend to foe. Justices have issued setback after setback to the president, his allies in government worker unions and to his argument that legislative gridlock allows him to broadly expand his powers. The grades are in, and the man who ran for office touting his status as a constitutional lawyer flunked this term. Obama is trying to get back to even on the scandal that rocked the Department of Veterans Affairs, meanwhile them other lingering scandals, particularly the targeting of Obama’s political enemies by the IRS, have gotten new life instead of fading away. Oh yeah, and ObamaCare is still being implemented.

[Crisis of confidence - RCP: “Americans have less confidence in [President Obama’s] administration than they did for George W. Bush’s at the same point in his presidency, according to a new Gallup survey.”]

Over there - How’s it going internationally? Foreign policy is usually the centerpiece of a president’s second term, so maybe that’s going better. As Obama sends more troops back to Iraq to fend off an Islamist army spawned by the still unresolved civil war in Syria, he undercuts what had been his strong point on foreign affairs. Meanwhile, hostilities are quickly escalating between Israel and Hamas; the fragile cease-fire in between Russia and the Ukraine is about to break; and the prospects for what will follow the end of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan are bleak indeed. There are lingering resentments among military members over Obama’s decision to trade the release of an alleged Army deserter for five senior Islamist militant commanders without the required congressional notification. So suffice to say, the president won’t be talking up foreign policy too much in this election year.

Trolling for relevancy - So what’s an embattled lame duck to do? Pivot, right? And this president, having pivoted more times than a ballerina practicing pirouettes, is ready to dance. Obama is putting into effect a long-promised threat to use executive action to grant residency to some of the millions in the country illegally. Even as the court’s rebuke on ObamaCare rules was still echoing off the marble steps, Obama stepped out to announce that he and Attorney General Eric Holder will “identify additional actions my administration can take on our own within my existing legal authorities to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can.” Given the explosiveness of the issue among Republicans and the growing anxiety on the right about Obama’s executive overreach, the president seemed to be deliberately trolling his opponents. He’s done it before, and it has worked. Democrats disillusioned with the president’s missed expectations have again and again stepped up to defend him against what they see as a GOP mob. A cynic might even surmise that the president is hoping to push Republican hard-liners to start drafting articles of impeachment. With a lawsuit looming over Obama’s authority to ignore or repurpose existing laws, this move is audacious to say the least. Republicans may oblige him, but it says a lot about the state of this presidency that Obama considers his current best option to bait his foes into a constitutional crisis.

The White House and Obama Democrats wasted no time in making use of the administration’s Supreme Court defeat on a bid to force family-owned businesses to pay for birth control drugs that devout Christians, Jews and Muslims believe terminate human lives. The decision, though limited, provides an opportunity to frighten potential supporters and donors ahead of a difficult midterm election for the president’s party. What better way to remind liberal activists of the stakes of losing the Senate than to accuse justices of patriarchal discrimination against women? With vacancies looming, the donors keeping Democratic midterm coffers flush with cash need to be reminded of the consequences. But the Democratic 2016 frontrunner jumped out even farther on the issue, offering a new insight on her strategy. In a campaign appearance hosted by Facebook and the Aspen Institute, Hillary Clinton called the Supreme Court’s decision “deeply disturbing.” Campaigning in the battleground state of Colorado, Clinton touted her own record and issued dire warnings about eroding women’s rights. “You watch women and girls being deprived of rights,” Clinton told supporters. “Among those rights is control over their bodies, control over their own health care, control over the size of their families.” Clinton placed the court’s decision on the same spectrum, albeit “far away,” as regimes “that don’t even issue birth certificates to girls.”

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