2013 provided the U.S. with yet another turbulent political year in Washington, where bickering and legislative fights triumphed over legislative achievements.
Coming into the first year of his second term in office, President Barack Obama found the waters especially choppy. The first half of his year was marred by controversies involving the IRS and National Security Agency, among other, smaller pitfalls. And, later in the year, his signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, got off to a rocky start after Democrats had gotten a boost in the polls following the federal government shutdown.
He also did not succeed in two high-profile legislative fights with Congress — one involving the expansion of background checks on gun purchases was defeated in the Senate, and immigration reform has been stalled in the House.
“I’m hardly an Obama-basher, but you have to conclude that this is one of the worst beginnings of a second term in decades,” Greg Valliere, the chief political strategist at Potomac Research, told Business Insider in mid-November. “It was clear after Obama lost in the Senate last winter on background checks for gun control that he had little clout in Congress.”
“It looks as if this president is dead in the water, a spent force,” Valliere added. “This is shaping up as one of the most dismal second terms in our lifetimes, certainly the worst since Richard Nixon’s presidency.”
Though the Obama administration’s struggles dominated the year, here’s a look back at 29 of the most memorable moments in U.S. politics in 2013.
Obama bows to First Lady Michelle Obama at the Inaugural ball on Jan. 21, officially marking the start of his second term in office.
On Jan. 23, now-former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was grilled in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Benghazi. Her most famous quote from the hearing: 'What difference does it make' about the motive of the attack?
In one of the most triumphant moments of 2013, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords delivered opening remarks while seated next to her husband, former U.S. Navy Captain Mark Kelly, during a hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on gun violence.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the leader of one of the Latin American countries most adversarial toward the U.S., died in March.
On March 13, Pope Francis was elected to succeed Pope Benedict. Francis' focus on the poor and income inequality have already produced similar themes in U.S. political debate heading into 2014.
For a week in April, America was gripped by the terror that struck at the Boston Marathon's finish line. This photo shows the moment one of the two explosions went off.
In the search for Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, much of Boston and the surrounding area was in a pseudo-police state.
In one of the angriest moments of his presidency and accompanied by parents of slain children in the Sandy Hook massacre, Obama reamed into the Senate for failing to pass a measure that would have expanded background checks.
All five living U.S. presidents -- George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter -- posed together at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in April.
Obama makes light of his wife's new bangs with a mock picture of himself with the same hairdo at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
As he faced new questions about the Benghazi attack in May, a tear ran down Obama's face during a press conference with UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
During a press conference outside the White House with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Obama checked to see if it was still raining (and if he still needed that umbrella).
Amid rising tension between the U.S. and Russia, the body language of Obama and Vladimir Putin at their G8 meeting said it all.
This seat, on a flight to Cuba, was supposedly reserved for NSA leak source Edward Snowden. He never showed up, and he's still in Russia.
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi gathered during demonstrations that eventually helped lead to his ouster. In October, the U.S. suspended a significant amount of military aid to Egypt.
In perhaps the most bizarre press conference of 2013, New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner appeared with his wife, Huma Abedin, on the same day new revelations emerged about his lewd online behaviour.
Barack and Michelle Obama, with former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, attend the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I have a dream' speech.
As he testified about the potential use of military force in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry was greeted by protesters from Code Pink.
Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari held up a document showing that Syria had become full member of the global anti-chemical weapons treaty.
Freshman upstart Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) spoke for more than 21 hours on the Senate floor in the lead up to the government shutdown. In the midst of his speech, he read 'Green Eggs & Ham' to his daughters.
Glenn Greenwald (right) has been the journalist at the center of the Snowden leaks. Here, with partner David Miranda, he testified in front of the Brazilian Federal Senate's Parliamentary Inquiry Committee.
Nabila Rehman, 9, help up a picture she drew depicting the U.S. drone strike on her Pakistan village which killed her grandmother Mammana Bibi, at a news conference on Capitol Hill in late October.
Amid the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius endured several brutal rounds of testimony on Capitol Hill.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's late-year admission that he had used crack cocaine was eaten up by U.S. media.
In early November, Bill de Blasio became the first Democrat in 20 years to be elected mayor of New York City. He hugged his children, Dante and Chiara, who became a huge part of his campaign.
Janet Yellen was nominated to become Chair of the Federal Reserve. She is expected to be confirmed in January, making her the first female Fed chair in history.
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