On the whole, a productive first 11 months in office. He’s implementing the agenda that I voted for. He’s had the guts to use his first-year mandate to effect some long-overdue unfinished business (most notably, reforming this country’s wretched healthcare insurance laws), reverse some of the most damaging policies of the previous administration (most notably, the anti-civil-libertarian climate that followed 9/11), and set a course for the coming decade’s key priorities (most notably, engagement with the rest of the world on systemically dealing with global climate change).
The calendar year ends with the insane new-messiah hype largely behind us, and with our president’s popular-approval ratings roughly where they should be. As the first anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration nears, it’s clear that he’s fundamentally a pragmatic centrist, much in the same vein as Bill Clinton. Consequently, he’ll continue to anger both the left and (especially) the right with his back-and-forthing on issues, in order to build the coalitions necessary for governance of this highly polarized nation. To the extent the Republicans continue to refuse to meet him halfway, the Democrats will have to tighten their voting bloc, lest they fall victim to the same ideological obstructionism that beset Clinton in the 90s.
Here’s hoping the New Year delivers the health-insurance reform that this country has needed for ages. Here’s also hoping that President Obama remains the cool, rational, remorseless policymaker t hat we voted into office last year. With the massive federal deficit that Bush dropped in his lap, he will need to make some serious cuts in federal spending—or hope for a stunning economic boom—in order to avoid driving the country into bankruptcy.