High hopes swept Barack Obama into office one year ago, and but even his most ardent followers admit that 2008's election-day
euphoria has faded. One year later, a CNN poll
finds that Obama's approval rating (54%) is essentially the same as the percent of the vote he won last year. Still, columnists are giving the president mixed grades for his performance
in challenging times—from the economic crisis to political polarization to the war in Afghanistan. Few who voted for Obama are expressing regret, but nearly all have advice on where he's gone wrong, what he's done
right, and what he needs to do to renew the enthusiasm that got him to the White House.
- A Record You Can Believe In At The Washington Post, Eugene Robinson
wishes the president were tougher. But, he says, Obama is "a president,
not a Hollywood action hero." He says the Obama administration has
learned lessons the hard way this year.
Most of my frustration is really with the process of getting anything
done in Washington, which is not something Obama can unilaterally
change, nimbly circumvent or blithely ignore. One thing the new
administration clearly did not anticipate was that Republicans in
Congress would be so consistently and unanimously obstructionist -- or
that Democrats would have to be introduced to the alien concept of
party discipline. It took the White House too long to realize that
bipartisanship is a tango and that there's no point in dancing alone.
- Regrets In Iowa Spell Trouble Jeff Zeleny
of The New York Times reports that one year later, many Iowans regret
voting for Barack Obama. Zeleny says regrets in this bellwether state
are foreboding for Democrats. "An erosion of support from independents
and disapproval from
Republicans suggests that the coalition Mr. Obama built to win the
White House is frayed."
- The President Lost His Way At The Huffington Post, liberal lioness Arianna Huffington
has become one of Obama's most vocal critics on the left. She says "the
spark" that Obama's campaign lit over a year ago "has not been
preserved," and that "we are a less strong country for it." Huffington
wants the president to live up to the words of the candidate. "If the
president wants to make sure he doesn't let down the millions who
believed he really would change the rotten system, he should read the
The Audacity to Win from beginning to end -- and rediscover a whole
host of things he knows, but seems to have forgotten. Then he can
complete the journey from The Audacity of Hope and The Audacity To Win
to The Audacity to Govern."
- Obama Must Be a Jobs President At Salon, Robert Reich
says health care is important, but it's unemployment that threatens to
define Obama's presidency. "If Obama and the Democrats lose one or both
houses of Congress in the
midterms, it will be because the president learned only the most
superficial lesson of the Clinton years. Healthcare reform is
critically important. But when one out of six Americans is unemployed
or underemployed, getting the nation back to work is more so."
- Should We Have Voted For Hillary Instead? At DoubleX, a women's blog, Emily Bazelon
says one thing is for sure: "If Hillary were president, we'd either
have more troops on the way to
Afghanistan by now or we wouldn't. She wouldn't have taken her time to
ruminate the way Obama is doing, because the barbs about weakness and
dithering would have sunk in deeper." She recalls how complicated it
was to explain to older women why she supported Obama instead.
Sometimes when I talked to older women who felt mystified by the
diffidence of women like me, I felt traitorous, like a feminist Red
Riding Hood who'd lost her way. I wanted to give them the reassurance
they were looking for without giving them my vote. They're over it, I
think—the women's vote helped carry Obama. But imagining Hillary as
president makes me remember why I couldn't dismiss their voices then.
You could be a good feminist and vote against Hillary, but you had to
be a more complicated feminist. You had to see that -ism as one of
several parts of your identity, and not give it primacy. I'm all for
complexity, but sometimes it's tiring. Also harder to explain.
- On Foreign Policy, a Mixed Bag At Foreign Policy Magazine, international experts grade President Obama's global policies, and find that the White House "isn't doing so well." How'd the Obama team do? "Obama scored only an average of a B-: five As, nine Bs, four Cs, and five Ds."
happened? Some argue that Obama's real policies haven't (and couldn't possibly)
match his rhetorical brilliance. Others argue he has punted where he should
have played, such as on the question of strategy in Afghanistan and the presidential
crisis in Honduras. Still others argue that while the sheen may have faded, the policies remain sound.
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