I just realized the past two Democrat presidents started their terms in very controversial fashion, thus strengthening their political opponents for the remainder of their terms.
One of Clinton’s first actions in office was to attempt to resolve the gay/military standoff. Not only did he fail in his eventual compromise, but his conservative opponents seized the issue to brand him as a hard left liberal.
Obama also starts his term radically, strengthening political opposition by casting him as a left leaning liberal socialist. His health care reform has stalled in the face of unforeseen opposition and he will wear this failure for a long time.
Again, part of his political blindness is due to the faux popularity manufactured by the adoring press.