Happy New Year and welcome to the 225th year of the democratic republic established by the U.S. Constitution. The year 2014 is likely to be a pivotal one.
Voters will elect a new Congress in November, and odds are good today that Republicans will retain their present control of the House of Representatives and regain control of the Senate.
Whether or not that proves true, or whether it's a good thing for the nation if it does, can't be known at this point, but there are some certainties that can be known today.
Tea Party still strong
First, there was a tendency in the nation's political commentariat in 2013 to write off the Tea Party movement. That's a mistake.
Check out the latest edition of the Washington Examiner's EXography feature, which ranked Senate members by the number of "hits" they received in a recent Google search.
The Senate's Tea Party senators dominated the top 10, with Kentucky Republican Rand Paul first, followed by Texas Republican Ted Cruz in second, Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson in sixth, Utah Republican Mike Lee in ninth and Florida Republican Marco Rubio in 10th.
The Google search is not definitive to be sure, but it represents a slice-in-time look at who is being talked about most in the mainstream media, the blogosphere and everywhere else in the digital universe. The Tea Party is still a leading voice in the national political conversation.
The train wreck intensifies
Second, the train wreck predicted last year by Sen. Max Baucus for Obamacare's roll-out is only just getting started. True, more than five million people have lost their health insurance to date, compared to the Obama administration's claim of 2.1 million have signed up.
But as the Washington Examiner's Phil Klein makes clear, there are many reasons to conclude the administration's figure is, to be charitable, dubious.
Expect the train wreck to worsen in 2014, as millions of people discover in coming months they can't keep their insurance plan, they can't keep their doctor and they aren't spending less on premiums. Obamacare is a catastrophe for Big Government Democrats.
Which way, Obama?
President Obama should enjoy his latest Hawaii vacation to the max because he's in for a very rough year. And he faces the most important decision of his presidency.
His approval ratings are at their lowest point ever, his signature program is a slow-motion-train-wreck and most Americans think he's leading the country in the wrong direction. How should he respond?
When Bill Clinton faced a similarly grim outlook, he compromised with congressional Republicans and sought consensus. Good things happened for America.
Obama prefers the Rules for Radicals way. So his choice is between Bill Clinton and Saul Alinsky. How he chooses will likely seal his legacy.
On today's washingtonexaminer.com
Diana Furchtgott-Roth: Open America's doors to those who want to work.
Beltway Confidential/Chuck Hoskinson: So what if al Qaeda was involved in the Benghazi attack?
Beltway Confidential/Sean Higgins: Union turmoil could cost Boeing workers their jobs.
PennAve/Zack Colman: Wind tax credit to float away, but maybe not for long.
In other news
The Washington Post TV: How Snowden thinks.
The New York Times: Sotomayor temporarily blocks Obamacare's contraception mandate.
Boston Globe: Pollard case looms over Kerry's Middle East trip.
National Review Online: The Henry Ford paradigm.
Powerline Blog: The age of Snowbama.
The Federalist: Break out the hangover remedies.
The Weekly Standard: A raid on Iran by Israel?
Talking Points Memo: Christie ally ordered to testify in bridge scandal.
The Huffington Post: New report says climate change worse than thought.
The Nation: Five reforms to make Democratic politics matter.
The New Republic: What Obamacare will look like one year from today.