WASHINGTON - President Obama is coming home from his overseas trip pretty much empty-handed.
After watching his party take a beating in the midterm elections, Obama wasn't able to secure even a symbolic victory on a trip that was expected to give him plenty of opportunities to claim a win.
"This certainly was the worst 10 days of his political life," said Baruch College political scientist Doug Muzzio. "Given that he's not going to be able to get any domestic achievements with the Republicans in control of the House ... if he doesn't do it in foreign policy that's a big problem for him.
"He came back with bupkis [Yiddish for 'nothing']."
Obama's inauspicious 10-day, four-nation trip included a failure to land an anticipated slam dunk free trade agreement with South Korea.
It also included a botched effort to rally Western allies to press China to budge on a monetary policy that threatens to keep the U.S. economy in the tank.
Yet Obama appeared to shrug off the lack of results during summit meetings with the world's most powerful leaders.
"Naturally, there's an instinct to focus on the disagreements, because otherwise, these summits might not be very exciting; it's just a bunch of world leaders sitting around intervening," Obama told reporters in South Korea.
"What's remarkable is that in each of these successive summits we've actually made real progress," he added, without anything of substance to point to.
Compounding his problems, Obama had to dial back on comments made back home by top adviser David Axelrod, who suggested Obama will cave on ending tax cuts for the rich.
Even when he had a chance to back embattled outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, his biggest political ally who wants to remain leader of the House Democrats, he hedged.
"I think Speaker Pelosi has been an outstanding partner for me," Obama said. "I think Harry Reid has been a terrific partner in moving some very difficult legislation forward."
"If President [George W.] Bush was the great decider, then President Obama is the great considerer," Muzzio said.