(CBS News) Barack Obama's second term begins one week from today.
Second inaugurals are always like second weddings. The first time brings excitement, great expectations and fairy tale settings.
The second time, reality sets in, and all involved have learned nothing is quite as easy as once thought.
Even so, I can't remember approaching Inaugural Week feeling there was less excitement in the air.
The fight over the fiscal cliff was so distasteful and ridiculous, it left me wondering not so much about the possibilities of the next four years, but whether our political system is so broken and our politicians so inept, that they -- WE, actually -- are no longer capable of solving our problems.
The nation remains deeply divided. The President won reelection but no mandate.
Nor did Congress. Thanks to the power of incumbents to raise money and gerrymandered districts, most of the old crowd has returned, not to great huzzahs but to a Gallup Poll that gives them a 14 percent approval rating, a historic low.
At one point during the Iraq War, George Bush's people unfurled a banner saying, "Mission Accomplished," a declaration that proved famously premature. Well, I suppose we have learned since then not to jump to conclusions. I guess that's progress.
But being a romantic, come Inaugural Day I'm sure I'll start feeling the old excitement again, but with what I've seen lately, I have to say in all honestly, not just yet.