President Barack Obama: First Anniversary, One Year after the Historic Election


Doug Mills/The New York Times

  • One year after his election, what has Obama achieved?: Obama got off to a quick start. But almost one year after winning the presidency, his deeds are at risk of paling next to his aspirations. – CS Monitor, 11-2-09
  • No Walk in the Park: For Obama One Year Later, It’s the Slog of Governance: For a president elevated to power on the back of history, the tears and euphoria of Grant Park feel like a thousand years ago. It has been just one year, of course, since Barack Obama’s election, a year since that moment when supporters felt everything was possible amid lofty talk of “remaking this nation” and determined chants of “Yes, we can.”  Some White House aides are wistful for the days right after Mr. Obama won office, when everything seemed a lot simpler. A year later, as a few smaller elections yielded a more critical judgment, the hope and hubris have given way to the daily grind of governance, the jammed meeting schedule waiting in the morning, the thick briefing books waiting at night, the thousand little compromises that come in between. The education of a president is complicated, and as Mr. Obama has spent the last 12 months learning more about wielding power, his country has learned more about him.  Given the enormousness of the crises he inherited and the scope of the economic package he pushed through in his early weeks in office, it might seem odd to suggest that the hardest and most defining choices are only now confronting Mr. Obama…. – NYT, 11-4-09
  • Ted Widmer: One year after his election, what has Obama achieved?: “He’s had a good first year,” says Ted Widmer, a presidential historian at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton. “Two of his biggest accomplishments are easy to overlook, but they were both important. He kept the financial crisis from becoming worse. And he vastly improved the way the rest of the world thinks about America.” – CS Monitor, 11-2-09
  • Fred Greenstein: One year after his election, what has Obama achieved?: “A decent-seeming [health reform] would redound to Obama’s advantage and reduce the buzz over whether he is ‘tough enough’ and perhaps lead to a spike in public approval,” says Fred Greenstein, professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University in New Jersey. – CS Monitor, 11-2-09
  • Russell Riley: One year after his election, what has Obama achieved?: Obama’s election itself raised expectations, says Russell Riley, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. “There was a miracle at the ballot box, and people expect those miracles to continue later,” he says. “But [Obama officials] don’t help themselves by setting deadlines early on that they then don’t meet.” – CS Monitor, 11-2-09
  • Historian Eric Foner discusses Obama’s place in history: It is a major turning point in American history, and I don’t think that should be denigrated or minimized. On the other hand – and there was a lot of euphoria immediately following the election even among people who didn’t vote for him – the fact is that now most people are viewing President Obama the way they would any other president. In other words, with a “what are you doing for me?” If you look at the first eight or nine months of almost any president, they didn’t really accomplish a heck of a lot – except for Franklin D. Roosevelt, who came in under even a more dire situation than Obama. (And much of what he did in his first 100 days was sent to the scrap heap within a year or two of his administration anyway and later had to be changed.) So it’s still too early to tell what will happen with Obama’s presidency.
    Obama is a mainstream politician. I admire Obama, he’s certainly a lot more eloquent than many others, but he’s a mainstream politician. You never hear Obama say a word about “the poor.” Everything is the middle class – middle class tax cuts, middle class this and that. That’s fine, I don’t mind the middle class. But the poor – which is a rather disturbingly large number of people in this country – never get mentioned. Now, Obama is doing things to help the poor, but it’s kept under the radar. Similarly, Obama very strategically does not present himself as “a black president” in the sense of having a particular commitment to black America. I don’t think Obama’s going to come forward with a plan that says here’s what I’m going to do to help black America. I think he says, here’s what I’m going to do to help the American middle class, on the assumption that a lot of that will help blacks. And certainly, raising taxes on people earning over $250,000 a year is not going to hit a lot of black people, helping expand Medicaid will. Those aren’t race-based policies, but they will have racial effects, among others. – The Grio, 11-4-09
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