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.
(CNN) – Two of the nation’s chief executives – Govs. Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania – assessed the current state of the economy on CNN’s State of the Union.
While economic signs are pointing to a recovery, both governors said the conditions in their own state aren’t so rosy.
“I'll say that when I talk to businesspeople, they're a lot more guarded than what some of the economists are saying just looking at the macro data,” Daniels said. “Here in Indiana, we're well below the national average. We're the lowest unemployment in the Midwest.”
While conditions may be slightly better in Pennsylvania, Rendell said business leaders are taking a cautious approach when it comes the state’s recovery.
“Businesses are still cautious, because they can't get lines of credits, they can't get sufficient loan guarantees. They simply can't get capital. And that's true for developers. It's true for all sorts of businesses,” Rendell said. “But we're seeing some very hopeful signs, and we're cautiously optimistic.”
"We lose some people in there," Christensen told us with a smile. "They go in and start having ice cream instead of going on to the other stops."
To walk with Christensen is to retrace the steps of young Barry Obama, from the ice cream parlor where he worked in his youth to the nearby basketball courts where he developed his passion for the game.
"And they're important because they really show the environment - that he had a great advantage over other inner-city kids where there's lots of graffiti and litter, and other problems," Christensen said of the courts. "And we have this wide open space in the sunshine and you realize he could play basketball almost any day of the year there."
At the moment, Christensen gives his walking Obama tour just one day a month. But he is switching to three days a month in the new year because of its popularity, which could grow even more now that the president is in Hawaii for Christmas break.
"Everybody gets really excited," Christensen said. "You know, 'local boy makes good' and the media plays it up and all that stuff. So it's a big event when he comes to town."