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A Year of Change

A Year of Change

Issue 63 December 2009

Next month marks a year since US president Barack Obama took office. He may only be a quarter of the way through his first term, but that hasn’t stopped his supporters hailing his brief time as a bright new dawn, nor his detractors attacking him as the man who will destroy America. But how has the American president done in twelve months?


One thing few doubt is that Obama, as a man and a husband, has been good for America. His persona as a calm, thoughtful decision-maker contrasts with his predecessor George W Bush’s politics of ruling by God and by gut. But Obama inherited serious political challenges in January, the most severe of which was the parlous state of the economy. Since then, his government’s interventions, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy as stimulus, outraged the right-wing who saw it as a step (or several) towards socialism, and have had an as yet unclear effect on the economy. It is too early to call, but it is unlikely the Bush administration would have come up with better answers.

 Obama has been less successful at pushing through healthcare reforms, which were bitterly opposed by Republicans. Indeed, the significant support and goodwill that Obama appeared to have generated among Americans during the election practically evaporated over this highly divisive issue. The reforms will still go ahead, but they have been heavily diluted and reformed, so what will probably pass into law next year will be a bit of a patchwork of measures.

 Abroad, Obama’s challenge was, well, America itself. The new president inherited an awful legacy from the Bush years: two unpopular, apparently endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of which had clear aims, and a world of mistrust, even from close allies. A year on, the strategy on Iraq, Afghanistan and even the now-forgotten ‘war on terror’ remains confused, with US troops out of Iraqi cities but still in Iraq, more troops in Afghanistan, and a wary eye on Pakistan.


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1 Comment


24 Sep 12, 04:45

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