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A year in office: Obama's performance assessed

As Barack Obama’s marks a year since his inauguration as the 44th President of the United States, finds out how analysts assess his performance so far. Here's what they said:


Rich Boatti, left-wing political blogger for “The Albany Project”

Obama has had a very successful year by normal standards. He can point to good reform legislation on credit cards, smoking prevention, fair pay for women, and the stimulus package, which has averted the economy from the brink of disaster. He has also taken healthcare reform farther than it has ever been.…While Obama has shown a greater understanding of multilateral diplomacy and also the potential danger that nuclear weapons present in all circumstances, he is no idealistic peacenik. Whether it's dealing with Somali pirates or insurgents in Afghanistan, Obama has shown he will use force when it's appropriate.

Laura Chapin, Democratic communications strategist based in Denver, Colorado

Overall, given the disaster he inherited, I'd give President Obama a better-than-average grade for his first year….I do think President Obama underestimated the intransigence and just plain looniness of certain sectors of the citizenry, and the willingness of the right to pander to those views in a desperate gasp for relevance. I'd like to see the president be less tolerant of the intolerant, and - as he has started to do recently - call out those who do nothing but complain but who provide no solutions.

Erick-Woods Erickson, editor of, a prominent conservative political blog

Barack Obama's first year in office has seen bigger spending than all eight years under George Bush, more deaths on the battlefield than any year of the Bush administration, higher unemployment than any time since the Great Depression, and more unity among independent voters and conservatives than at any time in the past decade.

John Fortier, political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute (a right-leaning, not-for-profit public policy organisation)

President Obama has been fairly effective in his first year in office. He moved into the office of the presidency and staffed his administration effectively for a relative newcomer to politics. He is likely to achieve his number one legislative priority, healthcare reform. He has worked reasonably effectively with his majorities in Congress. He has not made a large mistake. But the president's standing is decidedly in the middle, not particularly high or low….And Obama is not a transformational figure in our politics; the opinions about the president break down along familiar partisan lines.

Dr. Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics

[Obama] was lucky enough to have succeeded an unpopular president and have large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. This enabled him to achieve a fair amount legislatively, especially the enormous economic stimulus package and the healthcare reform bill. At the same time, economic and international conditions are so bad that Obama’s early high popularity could not survive the reality of governing in such a time. High unemployment, Afghanistan, and terrorism have taken a toll.

Alison Smale, executive editor, International Herald Tribune

I think Europeans, both the general public and political and business elites, still widely admire the (Obama) story. But, of course, actually dealing with the new administration has brought some realities sharply into focus. Above all, it is clear that Europe is really not a priority for this White House. Europe is needed as a partner, and where it can play a helpful role, there is good transatlantic cooperation, mutual respect and recognition. But we saw clearly - from Obama's absence from the Berlin Wall celebrations to the conclusion of the summit in Copenhagen, from Obama's declaration that he is a president of the Pacific to the current hesitation to confront China openly with apparent evidence that the government or hackers the government approved hacked into Google and other systems - that this White House has concerns that loom large with other parts of the world.

Darrell West, vice-president and director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution (a left-leaning, non-profit public policy organisation based in Washington, DC)

President Obama has had a good first year given the economic difficulties he inherited. The financial meltdown has complicated his political life, as has the decision of Republicans to oppose virtually everything he has proposed….Assuming he gets a bill, he will become the first American president in 45 years to sign major healthcare legislation. He has invested new money in education, health information technology, science teaching and energy and conservation….His biggest challenge is improving the economy. If he can get the economy growing again and reduce unemployment, it will bolster his political standing and help him do other things in the future.

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