Assess Obama's first-year performance

Politifact offers a careful, nuanced, and mixed review of campaign promises broken, kept, stalled, etc.

For my part, I’m not angry about any particular unmet promise. I hope we all know, before we decide how to vote, that a pol’s campaign promises are only offered as general guidelines, and that if a candidate wins the office, things inevitably will look very, very different from behind the desk. Just because Reagan in 1980 promised to (or strongly implied he would) balance the budget does not make him a liar.

But I am somewhat disappointed with the general direction of the Obama Administration. Massive, unconditional bailouts to failed financial institutions?! Wall Street insiders in the Treasury Department? A new surge in Afghanistan?! This is change we can believe in?! I wasn’t expecting what we would get if by some miracle Dennis Kucinich were POTUS, but was seriously hoping this “socialist” would give us something just a hair further left than the Clinton Admin (and Clinton was the most conservative Dem POTUS since Grover Cleveland), and we ain’t got it, and it looks like we ain’t gonna get it.

What’s your take on Obama’s first year?

See also this article from In These Times: “Why Year One Matters,” by David Sirota.

Only Obamabots and the Hopey-changey crowd are really disappointed with a lot of the unmet promises because they were delusional to believe them in the first place. That doesn’t change the fact that Obama has been a major embarrassment.

Here is another data point. I was bored the other day and decided it would be fun to see what the tv shows were saying. Rachel Maddow went over this topic. If the link does not go directly to the video, the segment is called “Beyond spin, Obama’s productive year.” It is obviously biased.

Care to expound on why he has been an embarrassment?

Ridiculous insults aside, I give Obama a C at this point, primarily because of all the time he wasted kow-towing to an element he had no chance of winning over, and compromising more than he would have had he been more realistic in that regard. I also agree that the first year of an administration is important, especially one with a mandate Obama had which, sadly, I must admit, he has squandered.

I don’t agree at all that he’s been, or is, an embarrassment, major or otherwise.

Only people who use terms like “Obamabots” and “Hopey-changey” think Obama is an embarrassment.

From my point of view, his political stance is pretty much in line with my own. He hasn’t fucked us into any horrible situations. He hasn’t solved the world’s problems either. So, I give him a C+. C, for doing ok + just because I like him.

I think he has done a very good job under extraordinary circumstances. Most of the stuff the left doesn’t like about him are fine with me. I know it was impossible to get the health care package I wanted through the senate. Obama has been very good at compromise. He probably shouldn’t have concentrated on Healthcare so much, but once the decision was made to do so, he had to follow through. I wish he would just repeal DADT, but I don’t know what the politically expedient thing would be.

My differences with Obama are mostly minor. B+

I also would give Obama a B+. Health care reform is almost done. A climate change bill passed the House, and there seems to still be a nontrivial chance that the Senate might act this year. SCHIP was expanded, and it looks like DADT repeal will be included in the Defense Department budget bill. And as bad as things are economically, they would have been worse without the stimulus bill. Working against the headwind of a de facto supermajority requirement in the Senate to get anything done, he’s done one hell of a lot.

He doesn’t get an A because he’s so far been far too deferential to Wall Street, he didn’t lift a finger to keep cramdown from being defeated (and his other programs to aid homeowners in desperate straits haven’t amounted to much), and he’s trying to get Bernanke (who seems to be far more interested in using the Fed for controlling inflation than bringing down unemployment, despite his own past writings) confirmed for another term as Fed chair.

Foreign policy/wars: Obama has gone a long way to undo the effects of the Bush Administrations “fuck-you” diplomacy style, bringing “soft power” back into play with varying degrees of effectiveness. Conversely, he has failed to push harder in some areas where needed, which has diminished his credibility (although not to the “OMG HE’S EMBARRASSING AMERICA!!!111!1” extent some would claim).

I expected him to wrap up the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq sensibly, not by dropping everything and getting out, and he’s done this in (IMHO) a measured and reasonable fashion.

In general: much, much better than Bush, not as good as Clinton. C

Domestic policy: Harder to judge. Again, he’s attempted to be a conciliator at the expense of pushing where needed (it’s ironic that Obama has made more headway in the Middle East than with the Republican party - it must be because he’s a Muslim fnar). The focus on healthcare and the economy has been spot-on, and while I think he gave Congress far, far too much leeway in developing the HCR bill I think that getting any bill at all is a minor miracle in the current climate.

WRT the bailouts, he’s attached more strings and gotten back more money than previous presidents managed to do, although I think his current “tax the banks” plan will not end well and I don’t trust his relationship with Wall Street. Focused infrastructure spending and pressure on the banks to increase lending and defer foreclosures has taken some of the sting out of the recession for many Americans; sadly, deficit spending is necessary in such times, although I take projections for future growth with several large grains of salt (as I do with any politician’s economic projections). I’m not sure what else he could do that would help lower- to middle-class Americans weather this storm any better.

I’m still gritting my teeth over the lack of movement on gay issues; as I’ve said before, he may be keeping his powder dry for the big battles and waiting to move on gay issues when it will do the least damage politically, or he may just have talked a good game and intend to do as little as possible. Too early to say.


Other: I agree that Obama has not made the best use of his mandate and has squandered some opportunities, although he has pleasantly surprised me in others (his recent public bollocking of the intelligence services over failure to co-ordinate is something I can’t imagine any other president since Truman doing).

He has also been fighting against the enormous shit-slinging machine that is the right-wing media and a Republican party that would vote “No” if they were on fire and Obama offered them a bucket of water. All in all he’s done far better than I expected (and a lot better than either of the Clintons managed to), but needs to pick his battles very carefully in future.


I think Obama has done pretty well, especially considering the situation he inherited. I’m mainly unhappy with what we’re doing in Afghanistan, but that’s a really tough situation, and I think reasonable people can disagree on how to proceed. If he ends up telling us we need another surge a year from now, then I’ll start howling.

But I don’t get how people give him credit for health care reform. Maybe I missed something, but it seems like it’s 95% Congress and maybe 5% Obama. Pelosi and Reid should get whatever credit is due, not Obama. He seems to have been mostly an observer, doing little more than setting meaningless deadlines.

I give him a B+. I think he should have not started the health care reform drive. All he did was squander all his political capital, unite the opposition, and divide his own base. He would have been far better off to focus on the unemployment problem and make everyone believe that was his top priority. It would have been better to wait until 2013 for health care, when he might have 60+ genuine Democrats in the Senate who would have gotten a robust public option in the bill.

In foreign policy, he seems to have repaired some of the US’s image abroad, despite the whining of the right about “the apology tour”. I’m disappointed that we aren’t getting out of Iraq sooner and he opened the door for criticism by taking so long to choose the path in Afghanistan. This isn’t a university where the biggest decision you can make is that something needs more study.

All in all, he was dealt a rough hand, complicated by the fact that the opposition from day 1 has as their prime goal making him fail.

B+?!? That’s the Kool-Aide talking.

Perhaps you can offer your own grade? Or why he has been an embarrassment?

It is Kool-Aid. Kool-Aide would be Rahm Emanuel. Or maybe that’s what you meant.

I’m more disappointed and frankly shocked at the visciousness and blatant politicking by the Pubs and conservatives in general. It looks like they reverted to full KKK evil mode. Against such naked hatred, how could anyone hope to convince them of the rightness of their arguments?

Obama tried to extend a hand of friendship but was bitten. I expect him make less gestures like this as his presidency goes on. He should consider almost all of the Pubs enemies who will stop at nothing to obstruct him and act accordingly.

I’m hoping that the eyes of the Dems will be opened up by all of the bile and vitriol coming from the Pub side. They need to stick with their president and their side and not let some personal animosity or values get in the way of passing every law in the most liberal fashion as possible.

The level of bile - at least seen from over here - is risible compared to that levelled at Bush. Never mind the deluge of slime which greeted Sarah Palin.

Not comparable. Except for bullshit like the 9-11 “truthers,” Bush deserved it. And, except for bullshit like the flap about who was that baby’s momma, Palin deserved it and still does.

That slime you see around Palin oozes out of her, not onto her.

I think Obama’s doing more or less exactly what I expected, which was to be a mainstream Democratic President. I’m happy that he drew down in Iraq, mildly and pleasantly surprised that he’s gotten anyhere at all with health care, was paying attention during the campaign and knew he would ramp up in Afghanistan, liked how he popped those pirates’ heads, and the insane, gibbering, hysterical hatred he inspires from the right is solid evidence that he’s dong something right.

As far as I’m concerned, simply keeping Palin from getting anywhere near the White House is already tanatamount to saving the unverse, so everything else is gravy.

I would like to see him go a little more liberal in his Supreme Court appointments (Sotomayor is a little right wing for my taste), and get off the dime on DADT (which he is still promising he will). I’d also like to see him get a little more aggressive in responding to the right wing media demagogues. Publicly stating the obvious fact that Fox News is not really a news organzation was agood start, but I’d like to see more of that kind of thing. Perhaps he could publicly raise those questions about Glenn Beck and that poor girl they say he might have raped and murdered in the 70’s.

B+ seems about right. Anyone who is disappointed about Obama from the left should have paid greater attention during the campaign. He campaigned as a fairly mainstream Democrat and that is how he has governed. No he hasn’t met every campaign promise but broadly the policies of his administration reflect the campaign he fought.

A couple of disappointments: I don’t think has tried hard enough to mobilize the grassroots and netroots behind his presidency. His campaign was innovative in this regard but while in office he has pursued his legislative goals like a savvy and cautious insider rather than try to change the political game to his advantage. Perhaps that was always going to happen given the realities of Washington but I expected more innovation and calculated risks from his political team .

I am also disappointed that he hasn’t pushed Israel harder when it comes to settlements. The administration talked pretty tough in the first few months and then backed down. I think that was a mistake and will haunt his foreign policy if he doesn’t correct it later.

But let’s keep things in perspective. It looks nearly certain that he will sign a major health care bill. That is an astonishing legislative victory: perhaps the greatest since the civil rights bills of the 60’s. You appreciate it all the more when you consider how complicated and difficult the whole process was particularly in the Senate and how many other presidents have failed on this issue.

Based upon what he said he would accomplish against what he has: D+