A Report Card on Obama's First Year (Time Mag.)

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Failed Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis once suggested that elections should be about competence, not ideology. A year after winning the White House with a combination of ideological jousting and forceful technique, Barack Obama has been tested on both fronts.

His approval ratings have fallen, and ideologically, liberals seem almost as unhappy with Barack Obama as do conservatives. Those on the right think Obama has revealed himself to be a flaming liberal (the word socialist has been tossed around), while those on the left have expressed disappointment with Administration decisions ranging from the troop surge in Afghanistan to the potential abandonment of a public insurance option for those without health care coverage. Rating Obama's first-year performance in terms of ideology, therefore, rests in a purely subjective realm.

Rating the President on competence, however, is another matter. Obama proved his executive proficiency by running a successful underdog campaign against the more experienced Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Having inherited from the previous Administration a battered economy, two wars and a range of other thorny problems, it is fair to say that what success Obama has achieved so far in his new job owes to a level of skill his 2008 rivals predicted he would lack (rather than blind luck).

But while the nation's 44th President has not been overmatched, he has not yet mastered the role either. Here, then, is a review of Obama's first year on the job.

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Donald Wolberg - 12/31/2009

Mr. Obama is fortunate that grading policies allow failed students to move on. Thus, he will enter the second year of what has been perhaps the most miserable Presidency in modern times, perhaps exceeding the terrible years of Mr. carter's occupation of that office. There is not a sector that has not sufferred during the occupation of the White House by Mr. Obama and his "unusual" set of compatriots, from the absurdly silly Mr. Biden and "insecurity" cabinet members to staffer-Czars and what looks like a make work program for refugees from left of the 60's.
Failures in domestic and economic policy, cave-ins to unions and special interest groups, disliked health care policiy, failed military and anti-terrorism policies and the nonsense of a miserable environmental non-efforts, are the record of the first year of the Obama administration. There has not been an administration so out of step with America since Mr. Carter.

As a President, Mr. Obama seems untutored in most issues, superficial and grandiose in unlept promises, uncetain of technical matters and simply inexperienced and very limited intellectually. But he does seem to travel a lot, and as is the case with Mr. Gore, with a massive carbon footprint.