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Posted by on Dec 31, 2009 in Politics | 23 comments

Obama’s First Year

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.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • DaMav

    launched the song “mmm mmm mmm Barrack Hussein Obama” that took the world by storm!

    Shouldn’t that be on any True Believer’s List?

  • New Cat

    If you want to judge an administration historically you do need to let the full term of that office expire before you can analyze the accomplishments. But if are merely seeking to evaluate the administration for lending or removing your personal support a much shorted time is necessary. I did not vote for Obama but hoped he would become a President I could support and wished him success. After the election I thought I would give him a year and see how he managed his Presidency. That year is almost up and unfortunately I am not happy with most of the programs and policies he has promoted.

    Of the fourteen accomplishments that you listed for the Obama administration I only support three of them. Although I realize most of the items you listed were some of the more liberal accomplishments of President Obama. He has accomplished other things which I would have mentioned and supported but these items would not appeal to a more liberal person.

  • Although I too am not a huge Obama fan I am happy that he has banned “enhanced interrogation” although I don’t think it goes quite far enough.

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  • JSpencer

    Contrast the accomplishments of GWB over an 8 year period – after having inherited a comparatively pleasant SOTU, with the accomplishments of BHO within a year – after having inherited an utter mess. Even the most stubborn partisans have to find that comparison disturbing. The point though is this: We need to set our sights higher, not lower. Honest assessement and cooperation is preferable to reflexive wagon circling and cynical mindsets no?

  • onebigassmistakeamerica

    Just having some fun…..

    Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into Law…The Lawyer Stimulus Program-Keeping Lawyers employed through frivolous lawsuits claiming discrimination.

    Signed the stimulus package into law…Putting us deeper into debt and more beholden to China

    Banned enhanced interrogation techniques…Freedom through Weakness

    Restored funding to overseas family planning organizations…Free abortions for foreigners

    Restored funding for stem-cell research…Abortions to keep the dying alive

    Oversaw the banking rescue…Welfare for mismanagement by crony bankers that now work in the White House and Federal Reserve

    Oversaw material interventions in the U.S. car industry…Remember the Trabant

    Successfully nominated Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court…A wise Latina trumps the rule of law

    Greenlit California car-emission standards…Why bother? AGW is a dead letter; haven’t you heard?

    Advanced the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq…Bombings escalate when the news of this breaks

    Reinforced the U.S. commitment to fighting terrorists in Afghanistan/Pakistan…but in 18months we’re outta here!!

    Took steps toward resetting the tone of U.S. relations with the Arab world…I bow to you, have mercy
    on us! Allah is Great!

    Ordered the release of “the torture memos”…Again, Freedom through Weakness

    Helped advance health insurance reform – farther than any prior U.S. president…and will destroy
    Liberty through shortsighted pseudo reform that will only line the pockets of all his buddies.
    Yeah!! Obama’s First Year!!!

    • HemmD


      you’re pretty funny. i sure wish you’d use a few facts in your attacks.

      F_T was right, and as you represent the GOP so well, what the heck has your party done other than tout BS stories to the ignorant base.

      You forgot the death panels and obama’s illegitimacy as pres.

      I will agree with you on one thing he’s not done. He clearly didn’t hand out enough foil hats for the party of NOOOOOOO.

      happy new year and hope he keeps you focused this next year too.

      • dduck12

        I hope he doesn’t focus us too much in 2010.
        happy new year

      • onebigassmistakeamerica

        It wasn’t an attack! And your “Facts” are what again? That’s nice that you assumed I’m part of the GOP. I’m not really sure how you came too that conclusion. As far as accomplishments I can think of one; it appears he has done more in his first year than FDR attempted. To bad they are both big government liberty destroying statist!
        Here’s another list for you,

        Top 10 disasters of the 2009 Obama administration (in no particular order):
        1. Cash for Clunkers
        2. War escalation in Afghanistan
        3. Giant government health care expansion bill
        4. Post office loses money hand over fist
        5. Stimulus package
        6. Expansion of “state secrets” doctrine
        7. Big increase in unemployment
        8. “Bailout” Geithner as Treasury Secretary
        9. Skyrocketing federal spending
        10. Huge federal deficits

        Top 10 disasters of the 2001-2008 Bush administration:
        1. Cash for Car Companies
        2. War in Iraq
        3. Giant Medicare expansion bill
        4. Post office loses money hand over fist
        5. Stimulus “rebate” checks
        6. PATRIOT Act
        7. Big increase in unemployment
        8. “Bailout” Paulson as Treasury Secretary
        9. Skyrocketing federal spending
        10. Huge federal deficits

        Now, can you tell me the difference between Bush and Obama?

        How’s that hope and change BS working out now that you see that there is little difference between what we had and what we have? Pathetic!

  • I’ll add to the list a reversal of the fed-over-state’s rights policy of GWB with respect to CA medical marijuana. There’s an irony in that, as the GOP used to claim to support states’ rights and individual rights. Obama stood up for state’s rights after a meeting with GOP CA Gov Schwarzenegger. He announced he would not seek federal prosecution of those who the citizens of the state agreed to legitimize through amending the CA constitution. That, to me, was a major achievement. When the citizens themselves, in a democracy, decide something like smoking pot for chronic pain shouldn’t land you in prison, the feds should honor that.

    • dduck12

      There are more Medical pot. stores in LA, than there are Starbucks. Sounds like a lot of really cool Green Dreams. Yeh, man.

  • ProfElwood

    Every president is a mixed bag, although W could have used a little more mixing.I was somewhat surprised to see “Oversaw the banking rescue” as an accomplishment.

  • Silhouette

    The flip-side of that being that pot is now a federally-graced unregulated substance for which the user may diagnose [in reality that’s what they’ll do to justify], prescribe, produce varying medicine for and treat their own illness[es]. If you don’t mind the “deregulation” of the medical establishment and the FDA, then this will be fine with you. From what I understand of the carcinogens involved with the leaf material commonly found intermixed with the active substances in the flowers, prescribing cancer-causing products to sufferers of migraines might be a bit foolish? Purified products would be preferred, and certainly not ones to be smoked under any conditions for medical patients.I think that if people want to say they smoke pot to replace alcohol to get “high” or relax with, that would be more honest. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have their state’s permission to smoke “medical” marijuana who are just stoners with head/back/tooth/you-name-it aches looking to “relax” without being hassled. Just make it like booze, taxed, availible to all over 21 and closely watched. Standards for production should be closely monitored and organic or non-organic markets should be regulated as closely as they are for produce at the very least..Back to the”Oversaw material interventions in the U.S. car industry”*********That one accomplishment not only will strengthen our economy into the far future, but will also help pave the road to disentangle ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. In case you missed that little detail, it’s the reason we are hated worldwide and Al Qaida thrives. Oil. Increasing mileage and encouraging alternative propulsion motors is the most potent middle finger you could flip at the Middle East. And it will help defeat terrorism. Drastically diminish US oil money coming in, I predict a drop in terrorism coming out…no time to plot when people are trying to put hummus on the table.. call it a hunch..

    • dduck12

      Nice pot analysis.

    • blogspy

      Al Qaeda and the Taliban thrive on the opium and marijuana trade not oil. You won’t find terrorists risking their lives planting IED’s around oil fields but you will find hundreds of thousands IED’s all around their poppy and marijuana fields which kill hundreds of soldiers and thousands of children each and every year.

      The whole “blood for oil” thing is a smoke screen. It distracts from the truth; Americans who buy, sell, glamorize and condone illicit drugs are funding terrorism. But, the democrats won’t do a damn thing about it because much of their own funding comes from the same sources.

      • JSpencer

        Your last sentence is crying out for twilight zone theme music.

        • blogspy

          Twilight Zone or Honest Assessment?

          According to the UN, elicit drugs represent 8% of World Trade Revenues. George Soros has a enormous stake in the drug trade and will do whatever it takes to increase its supply and demand. Soros is a big part of our problem. Of course he and others would rather have the US focus on oil and distracted from addressing the real issue that plagues our nation, finances terrorism and divert political power from the people and into the arms of organized crime.

          • ProfElwood

            I’m not a fan of Soros, the drug war, or conspiracy theories, except as curiosity pieces. I would rather we just weaned this country from its dependency on foreign oil, and ended the drug war (at least enough to kill the black market) in order to stop funding terrorists and organized crime.

          • dduck12

            I just can’t get into the conspiracy (even big defense business) stuff, it would ruin my reading of fictional conspiracy novels.

        • dduck12

          But the oil smoke screen part is correct. And no matter how they got there, personnel mines are evil.

  • DaMav

    I give Obama credit for agreeing to kill the pirates holding the Captain hostage on April 12. Also for holding to the Bush withdrawal policy in Iraq. And, even though it was poorly executed with mixed messages, with sending at least some of the reinforcements requested to Afghanistan.

    Most of the rest is either fluff or actually damaging. Ramming health care legislation through Congress that most in the country oppose, including many on the left is an “accomplishment” which shall no doubt be rewarded next November.

  • mlhradio

    To me, Obama’s single biggest “accomplishment” is that he is actually doing what he said he would do during his campaign. Far too many times, we’ve seen politicians make all sorts of empty promises to get elected, then once in office conveniently forget everything they said just a few months earlier. Obama, by contrast, is sticking fairly closely to his campaign promises.

    Taking a quick look over at the Obameter at PolitiFact: ( – out of 511 documented campaign promises:

    Promises kept: 79
    Compromise: 21
    Promises broken: 9
    Stalled: 53
    In the works: 216
    Not yet rated: 133

    For just a single year in office, that’s a pretty substantial list of work completed and work in progress.

  • I’m not a fan of Obama either. But then, I wasn’t a fan of George W. Bush. Nor was I a fan of Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, or Ronald Reagan.

    In fact, I don’t think I can name a single 20th century president who I can say that I am a fan of. Presidents are falliable individuals just like the rest of us, and I don’t see any reason why we should be granting them the adultation that we do. The fact the we have collectively elevated the position of the president as high as we have is bad enough, but the partisan sycophancy is, of course, even more unforgivable.

    I find it amusing whenever I find myself agreeing with some of Obama’s critics, only to hear those critics then go on to offer of their endless praise of Ronald Reagan as if he were the second of Christ.

    Americans ought to have more pride in themselves than to allow themselves to become partisan sycophants, slavishly defending even the most indefensible actions of their beloved political leaders.

    • dduck12

      Pretty good.

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