Many Americans – conservatives, liberals and centrists – are dismayed by Barack Obama’s first year. Republicans call Mr Obama a tax and spend liberal. Progressives say he surrendered to corporate interests, and his foreign policy is a continuation of George W. Bush by other means. Independents feel let down because Mr Obama said he would bridge the partisan divide and unite the country. Except for uniting left and right in disappointment, he failed.
Partly, Mr Obama is paying the price of his fabulous campaign. Coming from nowhere, he overthrew his party’s plans (Hillary Clinton), enthused the Democratic base and amazed the country. In temperament – cool, intellectual, self-assured – he was exactly what voters wanted after Mr Bush. Ideologically, he presented himself as all things to all men. Hopes for his presidency reached impossible heights. Disenchantment was inevitable and disenchantment is what the polls now show.
Measured against what different groups of voters thought he had promised – everything they desired – the administration’s performance looks poor. Measured against what voters were entitled to expect, it looks much better.
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