At the end of January, Barack Obama will be completing a year in office. It has been a disappointing year, not for him, but rather for the masses who cheered him on at public squares nationwide.
Objectively speaking, Obama achieved quite a bit. He is very close to passing in Congress innovative (even if imperfect) social legislation:
Obama also presented a far-reaching reform in monitoring and regulating financial markets, and even before it was implemented he demanded that the crazy bonuses to top banking officials be limited and taxed. He boosted the Fed chairman and personally curbed Wall Street’s returning greed. Meanwhile, he presented a presidential pledge to curb greenhouse gas emissions at the global climate control conference in Copenhagen.
Obama laid cornerstones for a new approach on the foreign affairs and security front as well. He pledged to gradually pull out US troops from Iraq and shift them to active combat against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. He presented the doctrine of democracy and human rights to hundreds of millions in the Arab world through words that were neither patronizing nor flattering.
Elsewhere, he forced Israel’s Likud government to commit to the two-state solution and to temporarily freeze settlement construction. He improved America’s ties with Europe, boosted the international coalition against the nuclearizing Iran, made clear his determination to reinforce the war on terror, and presided over assassinations of terror activists.
The public sourness towards Obama after a year in office has to do with the fact that the president is delivering on most of his pledges, while not delivering on things he did not promise (yet others thought or wanted to think that he did promise.)
Deeply in love with America
Obama did not promise universal health insurance, full employment at once, withdrawal from Afghanistan, a warm embrace to the Iranian regime, dialogue with Hamas, an electric car to every worker, public executions of bankers, and full nationalization of the financial establishment.
Mostly, Obama did not promise to be an anti-American president in the ideological sense of the term, as was interpreted by the many haters of the American model. The opposite is true: Obama is deeply in love with America and therefore he so much wanted to become its first black president. His beloved American is big, strong, inclusive, and serves as the global policeman of freedom.
Despite this, and perhaps because of this, Obama’s approval rating is dropping. The conservatives still view him as a latent leftist, while the leftists already view him as a latent conservative. The former attribute socialist tendencies to him, while the latter feel he betrayed their principles.
Hence, his practical achievements do not satisfy his critics. Journalists and bloggers analyze his weaknesses as a leader who no longer sweeps the masses. They say he is all about compromise, hesitation, manipulation, and detachment. Pollsters break down the public into categories based on the level of disappointment with him.
Barack Obama in January 2010 is indeed different than Barack Obama in 2009. He learned to conduct himself modestly. He became closely familiar with the material limitations of the politics around his presidency and internalized the realism of his job. He matured and toughened up. There is evil in the world, he said recently, and we must face it with deeds rather than words; “we”, that is, America.
Personally, Obama did not disappoint me. Free of his flowery rhetoric, he now effectively realizes the message of a typical centrist party with a slight leftist tendency: Just like Livni’s Kadima, just like Rabin’s Labor, and sometimes even just like Netanyahu’s Likud.