Entering what he himself calls the “fourth quarter” of his term, President Obama is starting to look at the scoreboard.

Declaring himself “energized” and “excited” by what lies ahead, Obama began his end-of-year press conference with a detour into legacy as he sought to build the case that the country should “enter into the new year with renewed confidence that America’s making significant strides where it counts.”

The past 12 months were bruising for Obama, with his party badly beaten on Election Day and a series of international crises and domestic policy missteps that battered his approval ratings.

But a flurry of good economic news, a $1.1 trillion budget deal, and a series of executive actions that have energized his liberal base all left the president in a chipper mood — and eager to talk about what he thinks he’s achieved.

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