PRESIDENT Obama's second term has so far been a story of high liberal hopes and scant liberal achievements.
The president has been re-elected, demographic trends favor the growth of his coalition, his party has a technological edge, and his opposition is confused and divided.
One might therefore expect Obama to be enacting the legislative agenda of that rising coalition.
Yet the White House has to be disappointed, whatever it says, by the way the second term has been going.
The president's poll numbers have been falling since December, for one thing. His average job-approval rating, compiled on Pollster.com, has been below 50 percent for weeks.
And liberal policy gains have been sparse, and mostly unrelated to Obama.
His campaign for new gun regulations is fizzling out — and not, primarily, because of opposition from the Republican House or filibuster threats from Republican senators.
Harry Reid, the leader of the Senate Democrats, has kept an assault-weapons ban out of the gun bill because it had fewer than 40 supporters.
That's in a chamber that has 55 Democrats.
The main gun legislation rejected this week was a proposal for "universal background checks" that was filled with exemptions.
Liberals can celebrate the rapidly increasing support for same-sex marriage.
Most of the action on that issue, though, is taking place in state legislatures, referendums and the courts. Obama hasn't had much to do with it.
If the Supreme Court declares traditional marriage laws unconstitutional, it won't be because the administration has asked for it; it hasn't.
The main policy achievement that liberals have made since the election was the tax increase at the start of the year, which led some to suggest that Obama had broken Republican opposition to higher taxes.
But the most powerful force in that debate was inertia, not Obama: Taxes were already scheduled to rise, and the legislation just limited the increase.
The fiscal fights since then haven't gone well for the White House. Its scare talk about the sequestration has been quietly abandoned because most Americans aren't seeing any effect from it in their own lives.
Obama wanted to replace some of the sequestration cuts with increased revenue.
The bill that Congress passed to fund the government through September instead left the cuts in place and added no revenue. He felt he had to sign it.
Republicans have effectively sidelined him by insisting that future budget bills will come from "regular order" in Congress rather than an extraordinary negotiation with the president.