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.