December 27th, 2009
09:55 AM ET
4 years ago

Did Obama have a good 2009?

(CNN) – How has President Barack Obama handled his first year in office?

The answer may depend on who you ask.

John Podesta, the former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, says Obama has made substantial progress in dealing with a host of dire circumstances handed to him by the previous administration.

“No one probably inherited a tougher hand in modern history than Barack Obama was - two wars, a crumbling economy - but I think he's made substantial progress along the way by stabilizing the economy and stopping us from sliding into a depression when we were in the midst of great recession,” Podesta said on CNN’s State of The Union with John King. “And he's beginning to move along on his signature reform activities particularly healthcare.”

But Andrew Card, the former chief of staff to President George W. Bush, says 2009 was the year Washington’s characteristic intransigence taught Obama a lesson.

“He has learned that lesson,” Card said. “[He] came with unbelievable expectations and he's not been able to live up to the expectations…[he] promised it wouldn't be politics as usual but it's turned out to be politics the same old messy, ugly, way.

Meanwhile, David Gergen, a former advisor to several Democratic and Republican presidents, says its been a mixed year for the new commander-in-chief.

“He hasn't changed the tone of Washington, if anything it's become harsher, more toxic, I think that's true.,” Gergen said. “But I would have to say that he has moved things farther than most recent presidents in his first year. “

“When you look at what he's done in the war front, on health care, on preventing the economy from going over a cliff, all of that you have to say he's made a consequential difference,” Gergen continued. “But whether it is taking us to the level we need in order to be as a competitive No. 1 nation, I think that question is still clearly up in the air.”

Filed under: President Obama • State of the Union
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Hendrik

    It is impossible to change things in Washington when the Republican party does not want things to change. It takes two to tango.

    Card says that Obatama has not lived up to expectations. George Bush sure did with the standard GOP go to war mentality, tax cuts for the rich, and "drill, baby, drill". Great record!

    December 27, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. max

    he's a fool. Only Carter was worst than him.

    December 27, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  3. MaryJo

    About as good as it gets as far as I'm concerned. I am looking forward to next year and hoping that we can retain a Democrat majority so that more can get done to move America forward.

    December 27, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. Death Panel Sarah

    Well, Andrew Card, you have only the reptili'con's to blame for the messy, ugly politics in Washington!!!

    If the crybaby reptili'con's would help instead of only obstructing, we could get a lot more done and be the best nation in the world again!!!

    Come on let's beat the other 36 nations with better healthcare and be the best again!!!

    We WANT to live longer than they do!! Let's be healthy and care for OUR poor for a change!!!
    We send billions overseas, but neglect our own!!!

    December 27, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. In a word,

    No, but he was exactly what I expected.

    December 27, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  6. Chad

    Well he added over 1 trillion to our debt already, he bows to foreign leaders, he apologizes for America on every overseas speech, 2 terrorist attacks on our soil. Oh yeah, in the process of raising everyone's taxes. I would say he's struggling just a little bit.

    December 27, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. Doug-Dallas

    We make the mistake of looking at President Obama as a savior and are disappointed that he is not a miracle worker. He made some errors in judgement but considering what he inherited, his first year was better than most. I don't believe he thought that Washingtron would be as toxic as it has been. I wish he had called out the Republicans more on their complete intransigence.

    If you look at what the "party of NO" contributed to the process, they might as well stayed home. They made it obvious they were going to oppose everything whether it was good for America or not. I think the "party of NO" may be unpleasently surprised at the results of the 2010 elections. The people of this country want change and results not what we have seen from the Republicans.

    December 27, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  8. DingDong

    He made Bush look good.

    December 27, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. katiec

    President Obama most certainly was handed more diasters than any incoming president has faced before. People tend to forget that
    our fiancial, health, education systems were falling apart and only
    complain about miracles not being accomplished.
    After what was done to our country these last eight years, he has
    made important moves in the right direction.
    We would resolve our problems faster and easier if he was not faced
    with a political party that is our to destroy anything and everything
    they can.

    December 27, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. Chris

    Obama inherited the biggest mess of any new president in our history, with the sole excpetion of Lincoln and the Civil War. An economy on the brink of complete collapse, two wars that were both essentially quagmires, and a horrible international standing. And within a year, the economy has began to slowly but surely recover, we are drawing down from Iraq (a war we never should have been in), refocussed more on Afghanistan, and our international relationships have vastly improved. All quite impressive.

    Right Wingers, however, insist on placing impossible goals on the President and then criticizing him when he fails to meet them. You can't go from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression to unemployment under 5% in less than a year. The man doesn't have a magic wand!

    We have been through one of the worst periods in our nations history. And what have Republicans done? Have they put aside their differences and work together for the good of country? No! All they have done has been to attack, obstruct and complain. When we get through this it will be entirely in spite of the Republicans and in no way due to their help.

    December 27, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  11. Democrats follow the false prophet.

    And if you ask the Press, they'll say he's the second coming of Christ.

    Obama is a third rate street agitator - period.

    Democrats are dictators who are only interested in power – over you!

    December 27, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. Joan

    Of course the Republicans are only going to criticize Pres. Obama's accomplishments this past year. They can't stand the fact that he has stabilized the country and is systematically solving the huge mess left to him. They have tried to obstruct and derail every plan that this administration has put forth for purely political reasons. They want him to fail which means they want the country to fail. Nice patriots! They have been on the outside of every issue and then look foolish when the programs show some success. The smart and classy thing to do would have been to put politics aside and support the President for the good of the country. Then they would have looked like team players and appeared more positively to the general public. Now they are characterized as the party of No with people like Limbaugh, Beck, Dobbs ,Palin, Coulter and Cheney as their spokesmen. Give the President a chance. For heaven's sake, he has done more than any other president in his first year.

    December 27, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. annie s

    He;s done a fine job so far, getting America back on its feet economically, progress on health care reform (after 62 years of the Democrat's efforts) , and refound respect from other nations. But can he turn Congress into something that works in a bipartisan fashion for all of America – not a chance. In view of the opposition he has received from Republicans and conservative Democrats, it's a miracle he's moved us so far along.

    December 27, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. adam

    he lowered taxes, started fixing a neglected infrastructure, began to finally update the country for the 21st century, actually addressed the 500lb gorillas in the room of health and energy. Not to mention fair pay for women, repairing our image abroad and providing more transparency then in the history of government.
    But he is beholdent to the constitution and the venomous congress, so he couldn't do everything on his list.

    December 27, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. Fed Up

    Of course he had a great year. He has a job. He is insulated in the White House. He has a nice warm bed. Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan don't. He has Secret Service to take a bullet for him. Our soldiers don't. The rest of us poor people are the ones that suffer.

    December 27, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. Charlotte

    As all the intelligent and decent Americans will agree, Obama has done a great job given the hand he was dealt, and it's such a wonderful and refreshing change to have a smart, edicated and thoughtful President after the previous, horribly embarrising eight years. Those who hate intelligence and detest education and are incapable of learning the truth about issues will continue to spew their thinly-veiled racism and say a bunch of puerile and Limbaughesqe garbage about him, but true Americans know that Obama has been a wonderful thing for the country.

    December 27, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  17. Death Panel Sarah

    December 27th, 2009 10:24 am ET

    Well he added over 1 trillion to our debt already, he bows to foreign leaders, he apologizes for America on every overseas speech, 2 terrorist attacks on our soil. Oh yeah, in the process of raising everyone's taxes. I would say he's struggling just a little bit.

    Well, let's see, Chad......
    Emergency spending that saved our country from falling into a deep depression(money well spent),bowing to foreign leaders(showing respect), apologizing(for Bush)...should have been done by Bush, but someone has to do it. We all live on this planet together(except Palin, she is a space cadet)...terrorist attacks(how many did Bush have...if you count the Christmas bomb, then, let's also count the 'shoe bomber'!(so 2 apiece and Bush's started on 09/11)

    ...and raising taxes on people making over $200k....I highly doubt that is everyone!!!, what is your problem???? Maybe listing to too much talk radio and FAUX NEWS????

    December 27, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Hammerer

    The propaganda machine is still trying to sell Obama as the messiah.
    All good comes from Obama and all bad is Bushes fault.

    December 27, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. Emmanuel

    Pres. Obama, i believe is the man of the moment. In mist of economic crisis, and two disastrous war at a time. He was handled them with maturity.

    December 27, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. Big John

    If it had not been for the party of "no" and people like "Traitor Joe" there would have been a lot more done much sooner for sure but his actions saved the economy from certain depression and at least a foot in the door for health care. All that has not been accomplished is a direct resullt of those who fail to look ahead and obstruct everything that's proposed.

    December 27, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  21. Ohio Don

    He has done much better than one could have hoped, both domestically and internationally. Restoring our standing in the world was a great achievement considering how it had been totally destroyed by Bush and the absurd neocons. It's also hilarious how the republicans are now crying about the debt when they were in power, they didn't worry about paying for anything and increased the debt more than any other president and left a mess that required additional spending!!! Remember, Clinton left Bush with a surplus!

    December 27, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. The Party of NO is only “pro-life” to save a zygote now, so it can then kill the “babies” 18 years later as soldiers in an elective religious war

    Too bad the short-sited have forgotten what President has accomplished.

    He has expanded the SCHIP program, his 'porkulus" package has shown the first positive quarterly growth at 2.8% in almost 2 years, banks are paying back the "Wall Street welfare" the republiklans were able to pass in their last days in office(now if AIG will do the same), there are almost 1 million new cars on the road that helped manufacturing and the environment, extended unemployment benefits and subsidies for COBRA have been passed to help the many unemployed among us and now health care reform.

    Given what was on his plate at the beginning of this year President Obama has accomplished much and he did not have to "single thread" each crisis one at a time, he was able to "multi-task" even with a bunch of cons that have stated the agenda of the republiklan party is to cause this country to "fail".

    And before you simpletons come up with that stupid statement "we want him to fail not the country".

    This little analogy, when was the last time a football team won a game or national title when the quarter-back "failed" or met his "waterloo"?

    December 27, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. Viewer

    Overall, I think the President has done a good job thus far. He inherited quite a mess. In less than a year, things are turning around. Unfortunately, the unemployment percentage remains high. Economists says it will take awhile for employment to catch up with the rest of the finanical world.

    I like his approach to thinking problems through before making decisions. Don't rush to act. That's how errors occur.

    December 27, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. big papa

    President Obama deserves an A++++ for the job he has done...

    ...the media, and TREASONOUS, racist conservative, teabaggers have tried mightily to denigrate his accomplishments which include:

    Saving America's economic bacon–

    had he not LOANED the banks the money to prevent collapse where would YOU have cashed your checks Mr and Mrs America?

    The Ledbetter (Equal Pay for Women) Act

    Legislation to allow same sex partners survivorship rights...

    ...Healthcare Reform ( YES WE CAN and will)...

    ...WINNER Nobel Peace Prize– which you lowlife racists pooh poohed...

    ...and just watch how the conomy (and jobs) come roaring back when the new phased in Stimulus takes effect...

    God Bless my President and his wonderful family...

    ...and humble his foolhardy, hypocritical detractors and haters...

    December 27, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  25. laurie

    Poor complain......and can't even spell...

    December 27, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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