My boss is not an Obama fan. No, I’m not referring to Mr. Gandelman. I’m referring to the other boss — the one at the company that pays me for what I do. That boss is not an Obama fan — and he struggles to understand why I am.
Two days before Christmas, that boss dropped by my office. I was one of the few still there; many had already left for some extended R&R over the holidays. We chatted about work-related items; about our sons, who long ago attended the same school; and — of course — about the President and his first year in office.
During the latter exchange, my boss asked me, “Seriously, what has he done?” I responded that I’m among those who believe a single year is not enough time to evaluate a President; that it’s important to judge Presidents in the context of their full time in office, be it four or eight years. While that might be a legitimate answer, it’s probably not the best one, not when this President has, in fact, done a lot in his first year. Among other things, he has …
- Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law
Signed the stimulus package into law
Banned enhanced interrogation techniques
Restored funding to overseas family planning organizations
Restored funding for stem-cell research
Oversaw the banking rescue
Oversaw material interventions in the U.S. car industry
Successfully nominated Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court
Greenlit California car-emission standards
Advanced the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq
Reinforced the U.S. commitment to fighting terrorists in Afghanistan/Pakistan
Took steps toward resetting the tone of U.S. relations with the Arab world
Ordered the release of “the torture memos”
Helped advance health insurance reform – farther than any prior U.S. president
This list relies heavily on the list compiled by John H. Richardson for Esquire. I added the Afghanistan/Pakistan line.
Considering these things, Andrew Sullivan concludes: “No recent president has had such a substantive start since Ronald Reagan.”
Granted, Sullivan (like me) is an Obama fan, as Richardson appears to be. In contrast, Obama’s detractors (like my boss) might disagree with the underlying policy of some items on that list (e.g., health insurance reform); they might consider other items flawed (e.g., adding a start-of-withdrawal deadline to the Afghanistan surge); and they might consider other items not yet worthy of the adjective “completed” (e.g., U.S./Arab relations).
Fair enough. But even if we remove the items that are still works in progress, there are plenty items left for which a point of closure was reached. And whether or not you agree (in whole or in part) with those closed items, they are still closed; they are still tasks completed, as much as Reagan’s were in his first year, despite his detractors’ disagreement.