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The Week


At least she can console herself that she’s still the first female House minority leader.

President Obama had a good December in the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress, signing a 9/11 first-responders bill, a new START treaty, and a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. The first-responders bill, despite its name, is a slab of New York City pork allowing first responders, Manhattanites, and their trial lawyers to file claims for 20 more years. The START treaty had serious advocates (Henry Kissinger); its critics argued, plausibly, that in the vain hope of making nice with an increasingly post-post-Soviet Russia, it puts us on a path that will limit our missile-defense capabilities. DADT repeal heedlessly burdened a military engaged in two wars. Obama’s successes remind conservatives and Republicans that even a weakened president is still the big dog in American politics. Not as big as he was, though. Obama extended the Bush tax cuts in a deal with the congressional GOP that reflected its new clout, and Congress failed to enact DREAM (the amnesty program for young illegal immigrants) and a grotesque $1 trillion omnibus spending bill slapped together by Harry Reid. And starting now, Reid’s majority shrinks, John Boehner takes the speaker’s chair — and Obama’s leash shortens.

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