February 23rd, 2009
09:48 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama's first month marked by success and setbacks

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/22/obama.so.far/art.obama.news.gi.jpg caption="President Obama, who won the presidency on a bipartisan platform, now faces a very divided Washington."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - During the most contentious stretch of the Democratic presidential primary campaign last winter, then-candidate Hillary Clinton mocked Barack Obama for his pledge to transcend Washington's entrenched partisanship.

"The sky will open. The lights will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect!" Clinton bellowed.

Obama dismissed Clinton's sarcasm as overly cynical and further evidence she was a creature of Washington. But as President Obama prepares to make his first major address to the nation, Clinton's comments are borne out.

For a candidate who won the White House on a mantle of bringing the country's two political parties together, Washington could not be more divided on Obama's initial weeks in the Oval Office and the policies he has put in place.

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. Lauren

    This is why Obama got elected. He promised us the new era, he was promoted by the press as the next coming of the lord. He played the game perfect. He ran one of the most expertly ran campaigns in history, he was perfect in all aspects. He knows how to sweet talk people to play right into his visions, his fantasies. But NOW,,, the truth will be shown. He is not a god, he does not have the substance to follow up on his promises, he lives in a fantasy world of thinking he is that good.
    I honestly hope he does well, even if I did not, nor I do not now support his viewsm I did not vote for him. But I do hope he can make a difference, but I honestly do feel, he will make things worse. We will become a country of handouts,,,, people not wanting to achieve on thier own, they will become lazy, wanting to be bailed out and wanting others to feel sorry for them because they failed at being responsible.

    February 23, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  2. Nick, Chicago, IL

    You are missing the point of bipartisanship. Obama did not pledge to be bipartisan just for the sake of it. He promised to be honest, pragmatic, and find solutions where all people have commonalities. While Republican lawmakers might not be hurting financially, a good portion of citizens are, left or right, Republican or Democrat.
    Look at the public approval levels for both Obama and the stimulus package and you will see that that Americans are united in their support. The Republican Party is bleeding support as they refuse to participate in the process of moving this country forward.

    February 23, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. Brina

    CNN give it a break.....if the republicans don't want to work with President Obama, that says more about them than it does President Obama........

    February 23, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  4. Angus McDugan

    All he needs to do is call anyone who does not agree with his positions a racist and that will fix everything.

    February 23, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  5. boered1

    I LOVE how the media protrays this as President Obama's fault when he has gone far beyond any recent President to open up talks between Republicans and Democrats. Unfortunatley the Republicans think all Democrats are communist and any attempt to work with them in any way gets you censured by the party (see what happened in CA when 6 republicans actually voted to pass a budget that is financially responsible and in DC when 3 voted to help restart the economy!). not that Dems are any better, while President Obama was talking to Republicans to find out what they NEEDED to support the economic recovery the dems held closed door meetings and put out a bill without input from the Republicans who they feel just support big businees over the average person. Too bad we, as a nation, are losing while the two parties snipe at each other. I guess it really is time to vote them all out, time for new people, unaffiliated with any party, to go out and run on the Common Sense Platform. But then all the cynics out there who cry only those well steeped in party and government experiance can govern will not vote for someone who stands for the average person they can only vote party and continue the same thing.


    February 23, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. Annoyed

    This is ridiculous. President Obama has been in office for less than two months and a proclamation that bipartisanship didn't last long in the Obama era is already being touted? What about the remaining three years and ten months? I don't know why it's expected that everyone would jump on board the first few days, heck the first few months in office. Change takes time and those who think it's going to happen at a New York pace need to wake up, especially those who are outright denying that any attempt at bipartisanship didn't occur. The article even mentions that Washington operates at a sluggish rate!

    February 23, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  7. Andi

    No one can be bipartisan by themselves. Obama tried to include the GOP, but they refused. They can't be forced (physically) to play fair, though their constituents can force them, but President Obama cannot be blamed for the lack of bipartisanship. He made a concerted, sincere effort, and was rudely rebuffed.

    If Bush had been treated this way by Dems, they'd all have been labeled traitors.

    I can't help but remember the old 'Freedom Fries' and 'Freedom Toast' when Bushies were mad at France. Gotta love 'em! They sure have their priorities assbackwards

    February 23, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  8. Jim in Bisbee

    Forgive me for noticing, but hasn't he been President for only one month? You can't discuss and "era" when his one month represents only about 2 to 4 percent of his entire time in time in office (depending on his success in reelection).

    Obviously, bipartisanship depends on the Republicans as well, and they are sticking to their Bush era agenda. Why don't you discuss the failure of Republicans to even allow Democrats into Committee meetings where laws were drafted? Talk about rigorous partisanship.

    February 23, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  9. Big John

    One cannot say President Obama hasn't tried. He's inherited eight years of failure and an economy in the toilet, we can't blame him for the mess we're in, he's definately trying to fix it but the republicans won't assist.

    February 23, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. Butch Dillon

    Hey, he gave it a try! This is one mountain of a problem and no single person is going to be able to change it. Bipartisanship will take the will of the people to dispense with partisan politicians at the polls. Until that happens, the republicans can just get over what's going to happen to them in congress.

    February 23, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. Sniffit

    Of course bipartisanship didn't last long. Almost half the country and a minority in the legislature are pant-wetting, tantrum-throwing infantiles who can't accept that the democracy they so fervently pretend to adore resulted in the election of a liberal POTUS and legislature. It was a foregone conclusion that the GOP would be obstructionists in ALL things. They've abandoned all of our core democratic principles as a society by internalizing the filthy vitrole of Limbaugh and the Faux News troop...espousing the attitude that "we're the only true Americans and have the only true American beliefs, so if the election doesn't go our way it means America is under attack...elections only count when the people we agree with win, so it's time for civil war."

    Faux News and others are actually trying to report that civil war is a legitimate option and one that's coming...rallying the right-wingnut, mulletheaded pseudo-militias who play dressup on the weekends in preparation for their great war upon the evils of "big government." Where were those "militiamen" when Bush was doing everything contrary to the principles the GOP supposedly espouses? Hmmmm? Good thing the rest of us already know the GOPers can't shoot straight.

    February 23, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Judith F.

    Bipartisanship can't be engineered overnight, and Obama is certainly trying. Although the Democrats have asked the Republicans for their ideas and contributions to recent legislation, it seems that the Republicans insist on standing (nearly completely) unified against any successes the Democrats might have in resolving the current problems, and in fact in trying to demolish any efforts made to resolve the problems which the Republican administration allowed to develop. Is this their way of showing muscle–in showing their effectiveness– in trying to block what they persist in seeing as the opposition? So much for McCain's "going across the aisle". At the present time, we need cooperation, and positive attitudes about really trying to work out the differences and working together rather than stimulating inter-party frictions. I used to be a Republican, but now they're really putting me off!

    February 23, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. Tony L.

    The "Obama Era" as you call it is only a little more than a month old. When he cited – "change will occur", did we take that to believe that it would occur the moment he assumed office? I'm sure he had no illusions that bipartisanship would be a process that would encompass most of his time in office. In the meantime, can we give him a little breathing room and let him stir us according to his vision out of this disaster?

    February 23, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  14. Cleaning up after W

    It's hard to be bi-partisan when you have the Grand Obstructionist Party placing political bets against your President in order to position themselves for re-election. They want to sabotage the whole process and be able to go back to their constituents to say "See, I was right to oppose it!", completely ignoring the fact that their opposition is one of the key roadblocks to success. The GOP, once again putting their own party before the welfare of the country.

    February 23, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. connect the dots

    The divide is now too great,the hate on both sides seems endless.The only way to end it is if we find the real culprits to our demise.Lets start by finding those persons responsible for the run on the money market accts. on the day we were attacked by the financial terrorists,on 9/16.Let want the partisanship to continue as they keep us divided and plunder our money.

    February 23, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  16. beevee

    Please don't put the blame on the president for this. Very clearly he tried to reach out to the GOP leadership but they are like people stuck in a hole who refuse to open thier fist to a person trying to pull them up. The result is obvious. They remain there.

    February 23, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. rachel

    She knew what we all knew that the parties really can't work together so one party needs a majority to get anything done.

    February 23, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  18. Obamacrat

    The article states: "For a candidate who won the White House on a mantle of bringing the country's two political parties together".

    Are you kidding me? On the list of concerns for the average American, whether or not there is bipartisanship in Washington isn't even in the top 20.

    That's not why I voted for him. And as far as I'm concerned that endeavor is a work in progress. I voted for change. And if anyone thinks that the Obama presidency has not been a big change from Bush already then they need to have their head examined.

    February 23, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  19. Darko

    We predicted this as many of us saw right through his charade. Much more more to come. Stay tuned as this is the least of our problems...

    February 23, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  20. andrea

    It takes 2 to Tango and only see Obama trying to dance. Shame on the Republicans.

    February 23, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  21. Wyatt

    Of course it's divided! He was shoved down our throats by the national media and got a free pass on every issue. The empty suit has arrived. How has the dow been lately? Evidently socialism isn't very popular in the business world.

    February 23, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. Gerry In Toronto

    I think it's hilarious you're blaming President Obama for lack of bipartisanhip. He bent over to the republicans and they stuck it up his you know what.

    Whenever you post something like this, please post the entire story and truth. these slanted articles make CNN look like a 3rd world broadcaster. Post the truth.

    February 23, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. Well, Not Exactly

    Not sure what political hack made this assinine comment .....

    " But as President Obama prepares to make his first major address to the nation, Clinton's comments are borne out".

    It is funny how some Republican Governors (Florida, California, etc.) ... who have to govern ... are speaking out IN FAVOR of the stimulus bill, which so far, is the biggest tangible effort of the new administration.

    In contrast, it is equally f unny how two in the DEEP DEEP South (Louisiana and Mississippi ... where the regional Republican Party voted for McCain) are against it.

    If someone with an axe to grind wants to falsely deny that SOME Republicans are acting in a NON-Partisan manner, I suppose they can continue to manipulate the truth and voice their flawed opinions as fact.

    February 23, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. JimG

    Yeah, it's Obama's fault that all but a few Republicans are sore losers. He was elected to change things, not keep following the same calamitous policies of the past eight years; yet that's exactly what Republicans are still pushing, bereft as they are of any ideas of their own. It's up to Republicans to say, "Well, let's give this a try, and see how it works" – Democrats shouldn't abandon their principles only months after winning an overwhelming victory. In the Republican lexicon, "bipartisanship" means "Democratic surrender." With their continued unpopularity and ideological bankruptcy, perhaps it's time they learned a new definition.

    February 23, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  25. jfs Memhis, Tn

    To quote Lincoln ...you can take a horse to water ...but you cannot make him drink. I cannot remember a President who has extended a hand of friendship and unity to the opposing Party (the Republicans) more than President Obama. I can only hope that the selfishness of the GOP is not affecting the families in thier respective states. Gindel will have some splaining to do if things get worse in Louisiana. Political Parties are NOT what Government should be about...it is about the PEOPLE who dictate direction and pay for the entity. I am absolutely appalled at the GOP. My family has been Republican since 1856 and starting with the election of 2000 we no longer feel the comfort with the organization ...NOR....the members. MODERATE is the word for the GOP's future...these other folks may have to start a third party.

    February 23, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
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