Cliff Dweller

A precarious balance of power between President Obama and Republicans in Congress means the U.S. will face a cascading fiscal crisis in 2013. Get used to life on the edge

Evan Vucci / AP

It's no accident that Presidents get lots of attention. They have lots of power. But the media's natural obsession with everything the "leader of the free world" says and does helps feed a myth of presidential omnipotence. In the Obama years, liberals in particular have often criticized the President for failing to transcend political realities. Why wasn't his 2009 stimulus bigger? Why didn't his health care reforms include a public option? Why didn't he pass legislation to restrict carbon pollution? The prosaic answers--he didn't have the votes in Congress, and he didn't have a magic wand--seem unsatisfying to some. Surely the...

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