Obama: Lost His Luster?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

In his latest piece for New York Magazine, national political columnist John Heilemann explores the growing sense of disillusionment with President Obama from not just the right, but the left as well.


John Heilemann

Comments [94]

Julia from Skillman, NJ

I do not understand the low approval ratings. His economic policies have put us towards positive growth trends. Our GDP grew last quarter. Unemployment went down a few tenths of a percent. Recession of the economy is over. We are now growing because of Obama's actions.

He has been busting his butt attempting to get healthcare for as many as possible. Healthcare should be considered a human right. His opposition is so concerned with saving a few hundred bucks a year and could not care less seeing a sick and hungry child. His healthcare opposition is just not human.

Regarding his action to Afghanistan -- he as much as said his intention was to clean up Afghanistan when he was running for president last year. The sending of troops is not a shocker. Besides, since 2001, the U.S. has been ignoring Al Quaida and the Taliban in favor of Iraq. I guess people just don't remember that Al Quaida attacked us in September 2001. President Obama is just doing what should have been done 8 years ago.

President Obama, from what I see, is the hardest working President that I have seen, short of Carter, in my life. We would be doing a serious disservice to ourselves as a country if Obama is not re-elected in 2012.

Dec. 10 2009 02:58 PM
Bárbara A. Herrnsdorf from Flushing, NY

Obama's Presidency could be summed up as "Considering the good of the people". This man seriously considers what will actually be a positive humanitarian benefit to the majority of the people in all situations from Afghanistan to Health Care to the $3 billion Indian settlement and every situation. He is a man of strong character and morality and he quite thoughtfully follows his conscience to do what he believes will be best for the masses regardless of who may criticize. Bravo!

Dec. 10 2009 01:44 AM
Valerie Booth from Brooklyn, NY

Since you asked the inane question --Yes, Obama's presidency does have a central organizing principle. It is to fundamentally change the way America operates - healthcare, education, internationally, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how we discourse as a nation. Tall order, especially the how we discourse as a nation part. Of course, both the right and left are loathe to change, so, of course, as selfish, spoiled Americans, instead of looking in the mirror and seeing how they can change for the better, they blame Obama for not doing what they want. He is doing an excellent job. I hope he continues to ignore all of you!

Dec. 09 2009 07:50 AM
Russell Miller from Manhattan

The theory John Heilemann can't seem to find in Obama's wide range of initiatives is a return to social responsibility, domestically and internationally.

Our nation was pulled radically rightward by Reagan, two Bushes and, yes, the opportunistic "centrist" Bill Clinton. From the moment he signed the Lilly Ledbetter bill, Obama has worked slowly, surely to restore the conviction that government can help (_help_!) shape a good society, not merely facilitate the accretion of wealth.

Obama is pulling the US back from radical greed (including the radical foreign policy greed represented by the "pull out of Afghanistan all at once no matter the repercussions" crowd).

A footnote: If Heilemann thinks he can be taken seriously after claiming that Clinton governed under the "theory" of "Putting People First", he should turn in his journalist license and unleash his repressed memories. That was a campaign slogan that evaporated on Inauguration Day. The Clinton _policy_, once the Hillary/Magaziner health care balloon popped, was pure 100% triangulation.

Dec. 09 2009 12:43 AM

God, there is so much right wing propaganda in this country. It's pathetic. Obama is the first president in more than 25 years to bring common sense and thoughtful decision-making to this country and people are too caught up in their partisan, ignorant way of thinking, they don't see how great a person they have as a president. Get over your extreme narrow mindedness and try to see the big picture: this is as good a president this country with it's twisted morals and greedy thinking can produce!

Don't you guys think that the fact that the rest of the world supports him means something? If the US wants to be in everyone's business you gotta have a president who knows how to respect other people/cultures.

I will never understand how anyone can still admit to be a Republican if you look at Puppets like Palin or some of the right wing propaganda crap.

What's wrong with you guys?

Dec. 08 2009 11:07 PM
Virginia Parks from New York City

Obama is, and has always been, a moderate Democrat. This is reflected in his Supreme Court nominee, his selection of Gates for defense as well as his choice of financial advisors. I think he expected to be able to appeal to moderate Republicans. The problem he has encountered is that the Republicans act as if he is a far left liberal. Obama has never been that. He is a centrist who I suspect is in step with the majority of Americans but hasn't found his voice in that respect. He needs to find the message that overrides the far right that seems to be the Republican base.

Dec. 08 2009 09:04 PM
William from Elmont

. i will not entertain the fact that mister Obama' policies on health care, or the rest of the world is unstable.
in my opinion his rhetoric mimics senator Obama's. On health care; cover 95 percent of Americans, get more bang for the buck, bring down cost in the long run, preventive health etc. green gas emission caps, biggest investment on education since god knows when; better treatments for veterans and current military members, and if i may add clearing our image across the world. "Mr. Lehear may add more onto that list if he choose."!
But the point remains that republicans are always talking about our future grandchild, well global warming is as futuristic as it gets. but they don't really care when big business are enriching their pockets, while whispering in their ear that their grandchild will be able to purchase oxygen suits in the future. Its seems to me that president Obama does care, if you need proof; we are having the biggest meeting on carbon emissions as we speak, and there is no question that this particular meeting was orchestrated by the president himself.
The only policy that President Obama is shaky on is a government run health care. senator Obama never did support a government run health care Hillary Clinton did. Also, with our deficit being trillions of dollars in the whole, we can't trust Liberals; as always, they stand ready to open Pandoras box. We can't blame the president if he's not yet ready to pull the lever with them.
the president's stand is so firm and unique; that liberals and conservatives are willing to meet him Only halfway. It is safe to say, that its not the president that lose his footing along the way; its rather us the people. The same people who supported this man in record numbers, for the same policies that he is now advocating. But We are bailing out on him like cowards, when he needs us the most. To me, we're like a massive army without any weapons

Dec. 08 2009 08:27 PM
gaetano catelli from downtown manhattan

the theme is: "i'm not George Bush, because even though i'm doing what he was doing, i lack his conviction."

Dec. 08 2009 06:55 PM
Bee from New York, NY

I have been listening to Brian ever since he came on WNYC - and I am appalled by what a concern troll he (and most everybody else in the NPR system) has become for the neocons ever since George Bush Jr. did his massive overhaul of the CPB.

I think one of Obama's major oversights is that he has thus far not reversed all the damage done to the CPB. I used to love Brian, but at this point it would be a major relief to see him gone from WNYC and see some real progressive voices back on the air.

Dec. 08 2009 06:30 PM
Linda from New York City

The problem with Obama is that he doesn't have any issue that he's passionate about and it is showing now, because he is very mediocre in his approach to all of our nation's problems. During the primary and general election campaigns, he had two stellar speeches and getting elected.

Unfortunately the "power brokers" in the Democratic party dissed their more experienced candidate...someone who was at least passionate about healthcare and who had the experience to navigate the turbulent waters of Washinton politics and the skills to fight back the Republican beasts of the sea.

Don't get me wrong. I like Obama and I want him to succeed, but I'm afraid he's going to be a victim of his own inexperience and he's going to have one hell-of-a-fight in 2012 if he doesn't have some major successes real soon!

I dread the thought of a Republican winning in 2012, but if Obama isn't careful and wise in his decsions, we'll "go backwards" even more so in 2012.

Dec. 08 2009 05:02 PM
Gerald M Clarke from Manhattan

My belief is Barack Obama still believes he can show the broad populace that “change” should be not just bipartisan but multi-partisan -- reaching all the sensible segments of the U.S. population.

While he campaigned many individuals -- each with a vision of a better future -- became convinced that he could bring their wishes to reality through use of his clear and enthusiastic presentations to the political organizations already in place.

Reality faced him with a set of almost insuperable problems, pulling back the financial world from disaster, solving aggravated industrial problems where the best he could do was to stick as closely as possible, to the status quo. His promises of improving health care for all and his commitment for saving the world’s ecological future would have been easy to master in better times.

I believe Mr. Obama still wants to achieve his personal aims but his famous academic advisors and the experienced practical politicians around him take the wind out of his sails. The deficit is a tool by which one can frighten any sensible person, especially one who wants to have the support of everybody it accomplishing what a consensus would agree are fine aims.

He has to break free now and replace some of those around him or, in turn, frighten them with some of the optimistic long-term economic projections that say better health for the whole population will increase the economic productivity of the nation. He has appeased the militaristic hawks who throw up the country’s honor as reason to stay at war forever. But his contingent exit plan over time will quiet nearly all his present opponents.

In public appearances and maybe even in private meetings, he has to reintroduce some of the missionary fervor that we heard in his campaign when he had something he really wanted to communicate. This applies even if his advisors tell him he sounds naive. Very few even moderately sensible persons really take him for a fool.

Dec. 08 2009 04:39 PM
antonio from park slope

more light rails.

Dec. 08 2009 03:24 PM
Adrian from Upper East Side

Two policy initiatives will define Obama's presidency, Afghanistan/Pakistan and the economy. In the first case he has decided to massively escalate an already failing war for very ephemeral national security gains. Why spend hundreds of billions to fight a war that was lost years ago? The end result will be a civil war in Pakistan and a regional conflagration.

On the economy, the policies of George Bush are NO excuse. Obama, Geitner and Bernanke have been absolutely shameful in their violation of black letter law in the quest to paper over the insolvency of every major bank. The Federal Govt. is now liable for trillions in new commitments so that the major banks do not have to come clean with their accounting. The FDIC, FHA, Fannie, Freddie, and the Federal Reserve are now fully the tools of Wall St and that is solely the responsibility of Mr. Obama.

Dec. 08 2009 03:24 PM
Roslyn Harrison from Westfield, New Jersey

I have not read the article, but object to a criticism of Obama as allegedly not having a symplistic, overall approach to dealing with the complex issues he faces as President. If one needs to characterize his overall agenda, I think it is clearly an effort to secure actions to address major problems that, if allowed to fester, will reduce the economic and social vitality of this country in the 21st century, resulting in the United States losing its leadership position in the world. The health crises is a moral and economic disaster. Global warming endangers our grandchildren and the planet. Unemployment is a social timebomb. Failure to restructure our fiscal system places our economy at risk. Without educational reform we will be unable to lead the world economy. These and other problems he is confronting require thoughtful, creative solutions and he is bringing the brightest minds together in an attempt to address them. He also needs to operate with the government system we have- with a balance of powers- requiring approval of Congress for most initiatives. And none of these changes will happen overnight. It is time to stop slamming him and get behind his initiatives.

Dec. 08 2009 02:49 PM
Bill from Nassau County

To answer the question that Mr. Heilemann posed about the theme of the Obama presidency:

1. Blunt the worst excesses of the free market. (Subprime mortgage crisis that led to the financial meltdown of 2008.)

2. Countervail the influence of special interests. (Healthcare lobbyists that spend $1.4 million per day trying to defeat reform.)

3. Restore equality of opportunity for all Americans. (Generate the 150,000 net increase in new jobs per month that the nation needs.)

Dec. 08 2009 02:02 PM

anon from NJ: what a ridiculous remark! How do you suppose the "struggling majority" came to be struggling? Thirty years ago a lot more people had money. Now fewer people have even more money. This reflects policy - which if unchecked could make a Venezuela or a Mexico out of the USA - Those minority moneyed can't go out to dinner without hiring someone to watch their car - they have to have concrete walls around their homes and guard dogs that get poisoned - do you want that? We need balance.

Dec. 08 2009 01:55 PM
James H. Rubin from New York


That can and should be the theme of Obama's presidency.

Rebuild our economy by greening it.
Rebuild our financial system by regulating it.
Rebuild our infrastructure by investing in it.
Rebuild our alliances by respecting them.
Rebuild our health care by reforming it.
Rebuild our environment by restoring it.

etc. etc.

Dec. 08 2009 01:39 PM

Thank you "Sam from Brooklyn".

Dec. 08 2009 12:55 PM
Sam from Brooklyn

Obama inherited nightmares on several fronts starting with two wars, an economic collapse domestically and internationally, a deteriorated American image in the world, domestic social decay, and very heavy ecological/environmental challenges; this is only to name the most urgent nightmares. Obama promised change and we have had change because we did not plummet into an economic abyss, he is working hard at stabilizing U.S.-Middle East relations, he has brought the U.S. into the world conversation about resolving global climate change, he is very proactively handling the severe economic challenges of the country, and he continues to move forward on Health Insurance Reform. He promised change and he is actively fulfilling his commitment. The question is: Is he doing too much? My answer is his administration appears to be effectively handling the challenges they’ve taken on and, remember, this is only his first year in office – To me, Obama and his administration have been the most dynamic administration we’ve had in office since F.D.R. I may not agree with all of his positions but I am awed by his dynamism as a leader. And, let’s not forget he is only human but what an amazing representation of humanity! We are truly privileged as a nation to have such leadership during these very difficult and challenging times.

Dec. 08 2009 12:37 PM
Susan Bluestone

I just heard the part of the program where Obama was compared to Clinton taking office. Clinton and others had the luxury of a central theme when they took office. Might I remind everyone that Mr. Obama's central theme is to keep America alive financially, physically with health care and intellectually through educating our children. He inherited the biggest mess from the disaster of the Bush/ Cheney administration, an unnecessary war in Iraq that is draining America of youth, and money that could have been spent on some loftier luxuries like health care and jobs. Mr. Obama saved the world from a financial crisis. He acted swiftly and certainly. That the pigs on Wall street then used the millions for bonus' was disgusting but not Mr. Obama's fault.

Dec. 08 2009 12:01 PM
mc from Brooklyn

sorry longstreet but Obama's vagueness on just those terms "transformative" and "change" show he's no radical. He is way too risk averse for that.

Sorry, no winners here.

Dec. 08 2009 11:55 AM
maureen from rockland county

No way.I have total faith we have elected the best person to clean up the mess that's been created over the last eight years.He goes about the job with calm deliberation,I feel sorry for him because there's so much to do and the political process so obstructionist in the most irrational way.The organising principle of his presidency for me is integration-kind of ironic because I don't mean it in the racial sense though that is part of it.Thirty years of neoconservative ideology has led to a country that is divided,disintegrating and lacking any sense of common purpose or working together for the greater good of all.The country's infrastructure is crumbling,it's public sector ramshackle and completely inefficient.ruthless self interest has been the dominant principle for too long.I believe he is shifting the focus back to more collective ways of strengthening the country.Serious economic inequality is the most destructive aspect of the country today.We have to get back to a place where bettering oneself through work and education is possible for every-one again and a small section of society is not obscenely wealthy and has free reign to bring the rest of us to the brink of economic calamity.I think Obama is endeavoring to bring the country together with a sense of fairness and common purpose again,a process of course but I think he will make progress in re-setting our goals.

Dec. 08 2009 11:53 AM
John from NYC

Thank God Obama is not listening to either the crazies of the Right and the loonies of the left. He is taking the balanced, mature progressive positions that will has already put the country in the right direction.
Peter and Moishe and Liam probably forget we live in a democracy and that everyone does not believe in everything they want.
Obama is the President of all Americans not just a few on the radical left and obviously not just of the crazies on the right.

Dec. 08 2009 11:52 AM
Donald Schwartz from Brooklyn

What does the government define as small business. I don't have a clue.

Dec. 08 2009 11:52 AM
valentin lyubarsky from brooklyn ny 11231

Normally, people tend to judge other people by their own parameters. Obama is a commonsensical person and he probably didn't expect so much of, forgive me, a shear stupidity. He is also a compromise-minded person and he didn't expect so much intransingence from republican "statemen". He couldn't imagine that these so called statemen
would put their party interests above the interests of the country. Especially when this country of our children has entered a crucial historic stage which throughout history all the empires had inevitably entered....

Dec. 08 2009 11:39 AM
Mary from Riverside, CT

President Obama entered office with more on his plate than any president in recent history, and in a more complex context than any world leader has ever dealt with. While I don't agree with his recent decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and I regret that it will take him longer to meet some of the expectations that his campaign created, I still believe that this man is one of the few public servants of our time who has the intellect, the willingness to listen, the analytical skills, the sound judgment and the honesty to deal with the chaos created by Bush Administration and with the social, economic and climate-related upheavals we are seeing in the 21st century. His central organizing principle should be to steady the boat and prepare to navigate some terrifying waters ahead....we are fortunate to have Barack Obama leading our nation at this time.

Dec. 08 2009 11:34 AM
Michael del from NYC

curtis from Pelham, N. Y. wins for the best comment, IMO. "Recovery" is definitely the theme of this administration. Economic recovery. Recovery of our reputation on the world stage. Basically, undoing much of the damage of the Bush years. (Yeah, I said Bush, so Heilemann can suck it.) Yes, there is a lot I'm displeased with about this presidency, but I still support Obama. He's doing just about the best he can while being systematically assaulted by the extreme Right, which the media is giving disproportionate coverage to, which then influences the middle. (The Far Right is nothing if not very media savvy.) On top of that, (despite Heilemann's comments otherwise) the GOP in Congress decided very early that their strategy would be to oppose Obama in every way possible. But I still think Obama is doing his best to govern a nearly ungovernable situation.

Dec. 08 2009 11:27 AM
ssm from Manhattan

His theory of governing (as I see it) is to take an analytical and practical approach to policy problems (cost benefit analysis, gather and respect multiple perspectives, think of long term rather than short term results), as apposed to a war of 10-second soundbites and partisan bickering or "following your (uninformed) gut". There is no need to be on an extreme side -- his revolutionary change is being PRACTICAL, which is a shift from the Bush administration that he promised.
He asks for "solutions that will work" and brings in a lot of information before making a decision.

Using this approach he had made major progress in:
1. America's perception abroad, relationships with other governments which are essential to the nation's security. He has done not only things the media follow like the speech in the middle east and closing Guantanamo, but also he has also done simple practical things, like celebrating Dwali at the white house, which a billion Hindus noticed. No former president has thought to do that.

2. Helping the economy and working families that are going through the financial crisis (unemployment benefits, COBRA subsidy, job creation)

3. Helped municipalities and states access the capital markets through Build America Bond program which has tremendously helped demand in the muni bond market and kept interest rates affordable for recent financings that were desperately needed by state and local communities. This is an example of a very effective and practical approach to two huge problems (the crash of the bond market and decreased revenues at the state and local level).

4. Attempting to pass health care in a cooperative, bipartisan way. The R's don't want to have a bipartisan approach to the issue, to the detriment of the country as a whole. His approach hasn't been unclear..

Dec. 08 2009 11:26 AM
hjs from 11211

when i see a crazy person in the street i walk the other way. we walk away from u for the same reson. you'll never win!

Dec. 08 2009 11:19 AM

The title of this segment "Obama Lost His luster?" is insane. The MSM needs to grow up and stop acting as if Obama can wave a magic wand and solve all of the nation's problems. Obama is facing crises comparable to Lincoln and FDR. The people who disillusioned are behaving like children with attention deficit disorder. This country would be a million times worse off if John McCain were president right now.

Dec. 08 2009 11:16 AM
Marj from NYC

When was the last time we had a new president tackling war, a collapsed economy, the environment and health reform within months of taking office? Our Congress is filled with partisan politicians instead of true statesmen. Our country faces complex issues. I believe President Obama is a man of intelligence and integrity and I support his efforts to lead us.

Dec. 08 2009 11:12 AM
Toni Liebman from Nassau County LI

I still have faith that Mr Obama is the best person to be our President at this time. Given the insurmountable problems he has faced upon assuming office, I applaud hie well informed, pragmatic approach. While I understand that he cannot please all of us all of time, (myself included) I believe that Republican obstructionism, constant polling, "hyper active" blogging etc...create an atmosphere never faced by former presidents.

Dec. 08 2009 11:08 AM
longstreet from NYC area

59: Anyone who says the only remaining superpower on earth needs a "new beginning" and "transformative change" away from what made us number one in every metric that matters is by default a far-left winger. No one who appreciates the American story would utter, let alone believe, such nonsense.
I win, again.

Dec. 08 2009 11:03 AM
Janny from jersey city

It was expected, as he was built up to 'messiah' level, and after all, he is a mere mortal - and a politician as well! He is still my President, i am behind him 100%, and i trust that he has our best interests at heart. He is thoughtful, pragmatic, intelligent. He inherited unprecedented messes on every level: the war, economy, healthcare, global warming; 8 years of issues ignored by Bush, or addressed only in lunatic fringe idealogical terms. Truth be told, it's taken 20+ years to land where we are today, why do we expect him to have everything solved in under a year?

Dec. 08 2009 10:58 AM
Ed from East Village


Dec. 08 2009 10:56 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Ed #41:
You nailed it. He has not changed. It is not fair to attack someone for being who he always was. People should have paid closer attention.

longstreet #44: A challenge? I repeat: Far left??????????

Dec. 08 2009 10:55 AM
SteveR from Manhattan

Folks voted for O because they didn't like Bush anymore. That's it. period. Every day that goes by that Obama changes or undoes less and less of the previous administration is, in my opinion, an endorsement that George Bush did the right thing at the right time, inspite of incessant hate hurled against him from the left. Obama is not "change"; he is the "same", and that's turning out to be OK.

Dec. 08 2009 10:53 AM
Daniel from Munich

His administration's central organizing principle is actually just being Bush. I know you said we can't say it's Not Being Bush. But it is in fact just Being Bush. He relies on the left's hope for change to be a smokescreen for his being not much of a change.

All economic activity is still focused on a belief in trickle down economics. No significant military changes have been made: not a true binding statement on withdrawals, nor a reduction in military spending (war aside). No social issues have been tackled, not even ones that can be done without legislative action (e.g. Don't Ask Don't Tell). His loudest effort at the moment, health care, has been pushed forward under the banner of Compromise! but is in fact just under the banner of Water Down! (I think that comparison is apt: when you water down whiskey, the water brings nothing to the table; when the Dems make concessions to the Reps, they bring nothing to the table.)

The Swine Flu issue is blown out of proportion to give the image of being a take charge administration. No significant environmental policy will be made; I doubt anything will be agreed upon in Copenhagen.

I don't mean to write that these are things that Obama inherits from Bush in particular. Bush wasn't special, just more obvious. All presidents have been this way. So what I really mean is that the central organizing principle is: STATUS QUO OKEY-DOKE!

Dec. 08 2009 10:49 AM
Abraham German from Brooklyn

The way Brian sounds when he is desperately trying to look for virtues in Obama, takes away all his credibility as being an objective radio host, which is something I knew all along. Brian is just as partisan as Rush Limbagh, only he pretents not to be.

Dec. 08 2009 10:48 AM
Moishe from Rockland


Dec. 08 2009 10:46 AM
Alex Marshall from Roosevelt Island

What candidate Obama offered was "change we can believe in". That doesn't mean flashy stuff that gets your poll ratings up -- it means systemic change, change in the way the country goes about its business at home and abroad.

President Obama is a long thinker. He's prepared to wait out the wackos, the haters, the egomaniacs with glinting glasses, relying on the underlying good sense of the American people. The election showed that we're getting over our addiction to snake oil--but recovery is a long process.

The President's role model is Lincoln. If he had announced Emancipation at his first inauguration, would the Union have survived?

Dec. 08 2009 10:44 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

To #12 Martin,

I agree with you completely. I spoke out several times on this very board about Obama's immoral silence towards racism and anti-Semitism as a Senator, but the WNYC censor deleted some of my comments. Apparently, saying such things against the chosen one was unacceptable.

I have said it for going on two years now and I will say it again - hating George W. Bush and the Republicans doesn’t make President Obama a moral, courageous, or thoughtful politician. I am NOT deeply disappointed in Obama because it was clear he was lying on many issues the whole time. Unfortunately, the largely liberal leaning media gave Obama a free pass. Now we are stuck with a president who is in over his head and is clearly an amateur.

The questions are, after Obama’s betrayal of women, homosexuals and so many others, will the Democrats vote for him again? I fear they just might. Will WNYC and other media outlets delete polite, but pointed criticism of Obama again? I fear they just might, especially if a Republican candidate is polling well.

Dec. 08 2009 10:42 AM
Ed from East Village

All of the old Hillary/McCain lovers still don't like Obama. Surprise, surprise.
I'm going to say something very Republican about Obama's first year, "He kept us safe". Unlike the Bush administration's first year. I bet Heilemann doesn't mention that in his article.

Dec. 08 2009 10:40 AM
really? from brooklyn

I'm getting tired of the liberals who are now knocking down the man the exalted a year ago. He was then, he is now, a politician. You made him your savior. I voted for him because I believe him a smart, savvy politician. I will vote for him because I still believe he is. You folks put all you hopes and dreams on a politician who has to navigate Washington. Both extremes are unhappy,which to me means he is doing a great job!

Dec. 08 2009 10:39 AM
hjs from 11211

32] anon
the rich should know the free ride is over for them too. they would not have their money if not for our laws, our economy, our nation.

Dec. 08 2009 10:38 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

The expectations were completely unrealistic to begin with. Hillary was jettisoned early on and villified shamefully -- but thank goodness she stuck it out to the end. Obama was invested not only with being not-Bush but with being some kind of liberal Moses who would lead us out of the conservative wilderness into the liberal promised land all by himself. No one considered congress. And no one foresaw the right wing noise machine and Republican obstructionism becoming as or more important than the Presidential effort.

Dec. 08 2009 10:38 AM
jj from astoria

in all honesty, i believe he is not doing a bad job. he is not perfect and people made the mistake of seeing him as a savior. given all the problems he inherited and the current uncooperative attitude in the white house, he has done a lot more than people give him credit for. also, obama has been under the most severe scrutiny than any other president in our lifetime and every breath he takes is looked under a magnifying glass. He is been our president for less than year! let’s be attentive to his policies, but at the same let’s be realistic and give him a break

Dec. 08 2009 10:37 AM
Michael del from NYC

"...What did anyone expect from a Senator who prayed in a racist church for 20 years?"

Peter from Sunset Park, your last line is straight from a teabagger's mouth (so to speak).

Dec. 08 2009 10:36 AM
Andrew from Bronx

It is naive to think that the Republicans would have cooperated to produce health reform. From the start they have been about using this issue politically to gain advantage ie obstruct its completion.

Dec. 08 2009 10:36 AM
curtis from Pelham, N. Y.

Although I have enjoyed John Heilemann's columns in the past, I think this current trope is a load of bull. The theme of the Obama adminsitration is "recovery" from the worst set of circumstances a Presdient ever inherited since at least Roosevelt. He has, first and foremost, begun the aognizing task of reversing the economy after a global financial meltdown and, really, a forty year industrial decline in the US. He has gotten health care further than any other President in our history. He has continued a sucessful set of operations in Iraq and is pursuing a bold strategy in Afghanistan that, after a lot of thumb sucking by political elites, will be viewed favorably with the benefit of hindsigt in acouple of years. As someone who supported Hillary in the primaries, this President has impressed me no end, persisting as he has in the face of cheap shots from the left, right and center in an appaling, "twittering" aga when everyone is, indeed, a critic. I don't know if Obama can be said to have a core consituency but he has nothing but my respect. And, may I note, the tendency in the press (particualrly the New York press) to sneer at his patient, thoughtful approach does nothing but add to my disgust with the fifth estate.

Dec. 08 2009 10:36 AM
longstreet from NYC area

I'm unchallenged, as usual. I win, again.

Dec. 08 2009 10:36 AM
Bob K from S. Norwalk, CT

Central organizing principle of the Obama administration:

If both the left and the right hate us, we must be doing something correctly (I almost said "right").

Dec. 08 2009 10:35 AM
Frank from L.I.C. from Long Island City, NY

Obama is giving Republicans a chance to participate in remaking healthcare. If they can't move the process forward, Obama will move it forward next year, and point to 2009 as the year Republicans took advantage of the effort to be inclusive.

Dec. 08 2009 10:35 AM
Sam from NYC

I voted for President Obama and continue to wholeheartedly support the man. However, I feel that part of the disillusionment that some of my fellow constituents are feeling stems from the fact that they didn't seem to be listening to the entirety of his platform. Many people who voted for Obama are now criticizing his Afghanistan policy despite the fact that he repeatedly referred to Afghanistan as the "war of necessity" when he ran for president. It seems unfair to me, that President Obama, who laid this out pretty clearly during the campaign, is now being attacked by his own constituents for this position as well as others that he has upheld during his presidency. This leads me to believe that many voters were never really listening to the man, rather they were projecting their own idealized version of Obama onto him.

Dec. 08 2009 10:35 AM
Janet from Union Square from Manhattan

I think the central organizing principle of the Obama presidency is "Preparing America for the 21st Century"... tackling the issues that underpin our ability to grow, thrive and lead: health care, greening, education, research. He has a vision/theme of what we need to do to make up for lost ground.

Dec. 08 2009 10:35 AM
Ely from Manhattan

Heilemann's assertion that "the middle thinks obama is governing like a crazy liberal" falsely repeats the myth that by default the middle is inherently conservative and hostile to liberalism. Another example of a smart journalist overstating "the mind of america" while repeating right wing talking points (wittingly or unwittingly) for the sake of appearing balanced.

This example also misses the larger fact that the middle tends to follow where the momentum swings. In this case democrats have been steadily losing the spin war and thus moderate support.

Dec. 08 2009 10:33 AM
hjs from 11211

24] the truth!!
we were not allowed to evaluate bush after 9/11/01, it would have been unpatriotic

Dec. 08 2009 10:33 AM
Allan Baldinger from Montclair, New Jersey

Brian-- Does your speaker not understand that the Republican Party decided that a victory by Obama on health care would translate to a continuing decline in their influence? Their opposition is a given. A rational compromise on the specifics is not on their radar screen.

Obama stands for a reentry of the United States onto the world stage after a disastrous 8-year decline in our influence. Whether it be world-class healthcare, climate change, the war on terrorism, or a revival of our economy, Obama stands for our cultural reemergence as a world power.

Dec. 08 2009 10:31 AM

The central organizing theme of Obama's administration SO FAR is attempting to undo all the effects of the Bush administrations bone headed policies - from the wars to education to the deficit. Bush left us in a big hole and Obama has to spend his time climbing out before he can successfully begin to rebuild this country!!!

Dec. 08 2009 10:29 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

OK, see you back here in a year-same OBAMA TIME-SAME OBAMA CHANNEL!

Dec. 08 2009 10:29 AM
hjs from 11211

mc 22

agreed, no surprises here either

Dec. 08 2009 10:29 AM
Steve from Springfield, NJ

Maybe the problems of the country are a little to complicated to determine one uniform guiding priunciple? We expect too much and then many attack because they have all the answers. Puleeez. Its pretty hopeless

Dec. 08 2009 10:29 AM
anon from NJ

My conservative husband thinks the theme is "tax the rich". It's hard to argue with him:

Letting Bush tax breaks expire
Proposed tax increase to pay for health plan
Proposed tax increase to pay for war(s)

At some point, the affluent minority will not be able to support the struggling majority. What then?

Dec. 08 2009 10:28 AM
aliveinNJ from New Jersey

I am so tired of these screech of these pundits who have 1) no historical understanding, 2) never run anything, not even a high-school club, 3) turned a blind eye to the current crises of two wars and the worst economic recession since the 1930s! I recongize that they have to sell a column, but please, could we have a little substance, if not balance! These wunderkinds are not serving the public. It would be amusing, if not so sad, to see these guys parade both Clinton and Reagan as the epitome of presidential governance. Read your hisotry, guys! It has been less than a year!

Dec. 08 2009 10:28 AM
Mark from NYC

I agree that Obama inherited a pretty dire situation. Just like it's easier to gain weight than lose it, it'll take more time to fix our problems than it did to create them.

I am disappointed in the health care debate. That's one issue I really care about. I wish Obama had taken more of a lead and not thrown single payer out the window from the start.

Dec. 08 2009 10:28 AM
charles harris from island heights nj

Great vision no leadership

Dec. 08 2009 10:27 AM
Don from Brooklyn

The Obama presidency is still putting out the fires of the last presidency: TARP bailout, the Afghan war, the Iraq wind down, out tainted foreign policy, Guantanamo. Come to think of it the only real agenda that's Obama's is health care, which, judging by the success of the first sprouts of FDR's social security is looking pretty good, public option or not.

Dec. 08 2009 10:27 AM

I'm a German living in Australia. For me President Obama is the first president that makes real efforts to listen to people not only within the US but internationally. You guys have to wake up and see what an excellent human being you have got as a president. This only happens once in a decade! Compare him with George W Bush!

Dec. 08 2009 10:27 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

??? No answer Brian? Then ask yourself WHY? WHY am I so critical of this President?

Dec. 08 2009 10:27 AM
Josh from Washington Heights

These anti-Obama comments are a joke, right? The man was handed keys to a car driven off a cliff by 8 years of the Bush administration. Now the Obama haters like to play that, because he's holding the keys, he's the one that got us here. He has virtually zero wiggle room and a huge defecit dug by Republicans (who have never met a military spending bill--no matter how big--they didn't love) that won't give an inch.

Do you really think anyone else would somehow, magically, have fixed the HUGE problems this country has right now?

Dec. 08 2009 10:27 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

Brian, plant a seed indeed! How dare you attempt to evaluate and ask others to do so as well in this President's 1st (less than) year in office?

Ask yourself did you or those like yourself scrutinize or evaluate bush to this degree?

Dec. 08 2009 10:26 AM
hjs from 11211

this is missing the fact that almost 1/2 of americans (47%) are still happy with BHO

Dec. 08 2009 10:26 AM
mc from Brooklyn

He is being what he always was. I said this almost two years ago. He is a risk-averse, somewhat centrist partisan. Anyone who looked closely at his legislative record knew that we did not have a revolutionary.

"I am a blank screen on which people of radically different stripes project their desires," or something like that. --Barack Obama.

Dec. 08 2009 10:24 AM
Don from Brooklyn

I can't believe this guy is basically holding the dems and obama accountable for the lack of partisanship at the beginning of the year. Nuts!

Dec. 08 2009 10:24 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

You realize that the money for any program that you envision is right before your eyes-fair tax based on income-no corporate tax-individuals must pay to live in a country that they want-come on, some of you are right her, right now-fair is fair-come on. You don't supply jobs, you send them away. Unions like you are not perfect, but, like government they can be reformed. Come on, we are all Americans!

Dec. 08 2009 10:22 AM
the truth!! from BKNY

The President has not "lost his luster" with me or the many folks that I know.

Dec. 08 2009 10:21 AM
Alex from Brooklyn

The bank bailout/giveaway ended his agenda.

he will always be perceived in the wrong light now.

Dec. 08 2009 10:17 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Far left???????

Dec. 08 2009 10:17 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

Oh, and, AND remember the (rhymes with crawl)less Demo-craps that already were there upon arrival. YUCK, where are our statesmen?

Dec. 08 2009 10:17 AM
Susan from Kingston

I actually think he is doing a good job, but his administration really needs to address the high unemployment with creative and innovative government programs if need be.

Dec. 08 2009 10:11 AM
Liam from East Elmhurst

He acts either BOUGHT and PAID-FOR as both parties now seem to be, or, just afraid of recalcitrant BIG BUSINESS who are not willing to go through another LBJ kind of presidency where too much they were unprepared for gets done.
None of these people are perfect, but, we elected him as the SECOND COMING of Christ.
He so far has no been much beyond a recasting of role of Ronald McDonald.

Dec. 08 2009 10:11 AM
longstreet from NYC area

This poster accurately predicted the buyer's remorse that would be overtaking the land about a year ago. (Look it up on the WNYC archives somewhere.)
What else would one expect from a man with no resume, no business experience, and a mind poisoned by the teachings of Marx, Lenin, et al? It's comes as a shock to lefties in NYC, but far-left positions aren't too popular in the US.
There's little to crow about, whether it's been closing Gitmo, the stimulus bill, or unemployment far in excess of what he said it would top out at (8%). (Didn't someone point out during the campaign that community organizers don't have any actual responsibilities?)
The country was sold an image of a post-partisan, learned family man with a great personality and even better smile. His on-the-job training has revealed that he's in completely over his head, and he is not the middle of the road pol he told us he was.
The topper is that presidents are responsible for the nation's security, which mandates them to do things appalling to the left-wing base.

Dec. 08 2009 10:10 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

To #1 Peter-

May I add "Anti-Semitic" to that church in which our President prayed for 20 years?

If the mainstream media hadn't covered for Wright (and Obama) during the election, we would all be aware of how regularly Wright preached against the evil Zionist entity.

Otherwise, some of us aren't disillusioned at's what we expected out of an ill-prepared candidate that we didn't really know...and who came along at the right place and the right time to get swept into office.

Dec. 08 2009 10:09 AM
NeitherHereNorThere from Manhattan

yup...I'm getting tired of hearing his nagging speaches but McCain failed long before Obama when he sold-out to the fundamentalist during the campaigning.

Dec. 08 2009 10:04 AM
Alex from Brooklyn

Obama lacks a back bone.

he is a conformist at heart.

Dec. 08 2009 10:01 AM
JT from Long Island

You also have to consider that Republicans are doing everything they can to bring Obama down. They ask for compromise, get it and then turn away. They're publicly against money for shovel ready projects, even pledging to reject it, then quietly take the money.

How can he be expected to get anything done when the Republican's goal is to make him look bad and some Democrats don't seem to see the big picture?

Dec. 08 2009 09:47 AM

Here's what a sane President would do:

Raise taxes
Fix the infrastructure
Fix the schools
Undo the DHS
Repeal drug laws
Clean the water and the air
Increase spending on public transport
Pass a public health plan that takes health care costs off the shoulders of businesses

I don't see Obama doing any of this, except maybe starting to clean the water and air (by repealing the "Clean Air and Water Acts" which were scams. And I know he wants to do a lot of this.

Dec. 08 2009 09:41 AM
hjs from 11211

if nothing else, the world sees now america has a president who can think. less than one year into BHO's first term, I'm still pleased the we the people elected this man, at this time to lead us. during this time of economic chaos, we are very fortunate that all those GOP cronies that would have come with mccain, palin were sent back to which ever oil company they came from.
as the economy rights itself, the president and his team will be able to move on to some less urgent matters, many of which have been ignored after30 years of reaganism.

Dec. 08 2009 09:26 AM
Behistun from NYC

Conservatives revile him, Liberals are disillusioned with him . . . this guy might just turn out to be alright!

Dec. 08 2009 09:23 AM

McCain sold out on his anti-torture stance and was getting confused about things.

Obama's not doing too bad, considering the mess he was given and the lack of cooperation of the Republicans, who would see this country collapse if it got them back into power.

Just remember how bad Bush was.

Dec. 08 2009 09:17 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

In his article, Mr. Heilemann writes,

“Compared with the extant Republican alternatives—the appalling burlesque sideshows that are Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney—he [President Obama] occupies an entirely different rung on the political and moral evolutionary ladder.”

Moral is in interesting word to attach to President Obama. Isn’t President Obama the same guy who was elected in large part by women, promised women that his first act has president would be to strengthen abortion rights, and now tells women that he doesn’t have time for abortion rights? I thought Obama was the guy who opposes gay marriage because his faith tells him that gay people should not have equal civil and human rights? Denying human rights and dignity to women and homosexuals is not moral. Even people who strongly dislike George W. Bush would hopefully see that.

Dec. 08 2009 09:08 AM
George from Bay Ridge

I for one was hoping we would all be enjoying the off world colonies by now. Why are you all complaining?

Dec. 08 2009 07:47 AM

from craig ferguson's monologue last night:
"in california a man robbed a bank wearing a richard nixon mask. that's bizarre. I thought presidents were supposed to rob *us* and give money to the banks!"

Dec. 08 2009 07:20 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Well, “I told you so.”

Obama sends 30+ thousand troops to Afghanistan…just as McCain would have.

Obama sits silently as gay rights bills are rejected across the country…just as McCain would have.

Obama isn’t opposed to wire tapping after all…just like McCain.

Obama decides that torture photos should not be released…just like McCain.

Obama decides that abortion rights just are not something he has time for.

Obama’s health care disaster bill is hijacked by pro life democrats and Obama does not have the courage to speak up.

Obama, the commander in chief, can’t find the courage to repeal “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell.”

What did anyone expect from a Senator who prayed in a racist church for 20 years?

Dec. 08 2009 06:54 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.