ANALYSIS: President Obama Pursues Quiet Strategy Through Noise in Final Year

President has one year left in a tumultuous second term.

— -- He came to office armed with a once-in-a-generation political movement -- powered by hope and the promise of change, all making his unlikely presidency and early accomplishments possible.

Now, with just one year left in a tumultuous second term, President Obama again is witnessing powerful forces, only now ones that are pushing the nation in much different directions. An anxious nation enters a political year with security and economic fears and with loud, angry voices dominating.

The dynamics make for a special challenge for a lame-duck president with mixed success in moving the levers of government. It suggests a quieter year for a humbled president -- yet still an ambitious and active one, with a rare window for governing presenting itself through the outside noise.

Obama’s realistic legislative goals for the year, according to White House aides and outside analysts, are modest by the standards set early in his time in office. He’ll be playing more defense than offense, preserving ground gained in those early, heady days of 2009 and 2010.

The president is actually coming off a relatively productive year for this point in his time in office, though world events are threatening to overshadow his later accomplishments, said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University.

“This is far from a period like 2009-2010, with great policy breakthroughs,” he said. “If the situation overseas gets worse, that could be all we remember.”

Then there’s the current Republican frontrunner, whose channeling of voters’ frustrations virtually cries out for the type of responses Obama is best at offering, in the view of the president’s allies.