General Question

peyton_farquhar's avatar

Five months into his first term, how do you evaluate Obama's presidency?

Asked by peyton_farquhar (3741points) June 20th, 2009

Today is the five-month anniversary of Obama’s inauguration. So, how is he doing?

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51 Answers

applesaucemanny's avatar

better than Bush that’s for sure

DeanV's avatar

@applesaucemanny That’s not saying much.

I would say it’s been fairly good. He has made some mistakes, but compared to what he was following, he’s been great. I don’t necessarily think he will pull the US out of their financial spiral, but he should help with other things that Bush screwed up.

kenmc's avatar

Some progress. Mostly same as it ever was.

He stopped DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries which I like.

He keeps feeding the military-industrial complex, which I don’t like.

filmfann's avatar

Disappointed that he does make mistakes, but, oh so much better that Bush!
It’s nice to have a president you don’t have to be ashamed of.

whitenoise's avatar

He actually seems to recognize that The United States are part of the rest of the world. The former seemed to think the rest of the world was on a different planet.

I am so far very positive, overall. .

kenmc's avatar


I don’t think this question was meant to be for comparing Obama to Bush…

dalepetrie's avatar

I’m finding that most (not all) of the “mistakes” people talk about, or the problems that he seems to have with liberals being upset about actions a or b, boil down to unrealistic expectations. Like the recent flap over gay rights where Obama did not condemn the justic dept’s decision to affirm DOMA. I understand the emotions involved, but he also said that as President, he is charged with upholding he laws, and the way to change this is not through the judicial branch, but through the legislative branch. He’s absolutely right…he understands his role as President, and he understands that if you change the law through Congress, it’s a hell of a lot more meaningful and permanent than if you just do what Bush did and legistlate from teh Executive Office by signing statements and Executive Orders. In other words, it seems to me that he understands that if you do things the right way, the outcome is more permanent and meaningful in the long run. A lot of people seem to want him to just jump to things and plug up all these holes, but doesn’t consider that these things take time.

Sure, it’s easy to say, OK, it’s been 5 months, but some of the problems he’s trying to fix have been getting worse for decades. I guess here is how I judge him. I think he’s been true to his ideals, even if in the short run sometimes he appears to be selling out the cause because he’s not acting quickly enough. He’s started his work on every one of the major issues, he’s juggling a LOT, and it just seems to me that he’s doing what he can.

Now I don’t think he’s immune to failure, and I don’t expect every one of his initiatives to succeed 100% in the long run. But I don’t think at this point he’s been given enough time to really judge how effective his ideas and implementation were. Bottom line though is I believe he’s trying to fix it all in the way he believes it needs to be fixed. I think he’s listening to input from others and I think he’s doing it by the books so that his work can not be simply undone with the stroke of a pen. So far, A-

skfinkel's avatar


ubersiren's avatar

Until he leads us to war based on a lie, he will be known as the greatest president ever. But I don’t know that he’s done much, honestly. What he has done is made us look less like ignorant, arrogant, war-mongering hillbillies, and I thank him for that. Oh and he declared a national GLBT month. I might be missing something he has done specifically to help aid in one of our problems, but I just don’t know that so far he has done too much. That’s not to say he won’t ever, but he hasn’t so far. I say in the last 5 months he has done more harm than good.

filmfann's avatar

I am worried about the unnecessary spending done in the name of Stimulus. I think he was wrong not to immediately overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He gets full marks as a statesman, and being careful undoing the booby traps left by W. The photo opportunity over New York was just plain stupid.

tinyfaery's avatar

:( I’ll once again be registering Green.

SeventhSense's avatar

He hasn’t done anything yet that has made a significant impact other than spend money we don’t have. He’s continuing the same course that was heading us towards that cliff. So who cares if it’s Thelma or Louise driving. It’s business as usual, although he’s the first president who can take his shirt off at the beach.~ But he does have diplomacy and that’s all you really need in a figurehead anyway.
Hillary would have gotten so much more accomplished.

Jeruba's avatar

> first president who can take his shirt off at the beach.

No, he’s not.

benjaminlevi's avatar

Best president in my lifetime (I was born under Reagan) but I understand he cannot single-handedly fix our country exactly the way I want it to be. Us citizens won’t let him. I like to think of him as someone who really sees how things must be fixed, and wants too, but compromises too much (and obviously want to get reelected)

@tinyfaery I feel your pain

SeventhSense's avatar

That’s right. Forgot JFK.

CMaz's avatar

He has done nothing. But put on a good show.

filmfann's avatar

@tinyfaery It isn’t easy being Green.

@SeventhSense Hillary could not have taken her shirt off at the beach, though. Well, if she did, she probably still wouldn’t have gotten the attention Obama did.

dannyc's avatar

On social policy he has been exemplary. On financial handling of the mess that was created by Wall Street, he has been sort of predictable, all President’s really being driven by their advisers, especially Bernanke, whom I think is a huge problem. He has yet to be tested severely in terms of foreign policy, notwithstanding his speeches, which are pretty well the best feature of his appeal. I think he totally blew it on the auto companies as those dinosaurs should have been left to die. He also is worrisome from a Canadian point of view in terms of his protectionist stance. He certainly appears to be a stalwart no nonsense type and not afraid of taking action. I think it will take him a year to hit his stride, and he will be very respected. I think that America is in for a very rough ride regardless of Obama, he is not a saviour but a solid good man, and is the best that can be expected. He definitely is not as intelligent as Clinton, nor does he have the soaring motivational abilities of Ronald Reagan. The latter is far and away, in my opinion, the best spokesperson for the US in the last 50 years, capable of making the American psyche inspired to new heights. I have yet to see Obama do so, except for his actual selection as a black man, an achievement in itself. In a word, he is not as great as the hype surrounding him, but who ever is? He may get better with time, and unfortunately it may take a new crisis to show what he is made of. There will be plenty, so I wish him well as it is undoubtedly the toughest job on the planet.

SeventhSense's avatar

After the previous 8 years a sack of potatoes would seem inspirational, but nevertheless he is a good leader. I just worry about his capacity to work Washington like Bill did so masterfully. And Hillary would have had him behind her.of course if he wasn’t out with the babysitter. Poor Bill will never live that down.:P

dannyc's avatar

@SeventhSense . I agree he is good. He seems a fast learner and will get better with time. Given his lack of experience, you must give him full credit. But I fear that his greatest supporters will turn on him, fickle as the public is..makes on wonder why anyone really wants that job.

SeventhSense's avatar

If you want a chuckle just look back over the division of Republicans and Democrats in the White House over the past 100 years. It’s almost laughably predictable.

dalepetrie's avatar

I’m not much for the philosophy that we should criticize Obama for spending money we don’t have….essentially if stimulus money is spent well, it should (theoretically based on several instances in the past where government spending has been kicked up to stimulate the economy), it should have a net return of 3 to 4 times what is spent. And basically, one has to realize how quickly things can turn around in either direction….consider that Clinton spent a lot more on social programs than Bush did, and he turned a deficit into a suprlus, whereas Bush turned a surplus in the largest deficit we’ve ever had while continually cutting spending on social programs. I’m of the opinion that targeted (but smart) spending on the right social programs will result in a bottom up prosperity which will more than pay for itself via increased tax revenues. Now, that theory could be wrong, but in the past it’s seemed to work, and we knew going into the Obama Presidency that he was a believer in throwing money at the problem. What I think one needs to look at is HOW he spends the money, and so far I’ve been impressed at the ideas he’s brought to the table. Like I said, give it time and see if we aren’t in much better shape 4 or 8 years down the road than we are today, in spite of “spending money we don’t have” now. We may not have it, but we need to spend it anyway if we ever want to dig ourselves out of this hole. To do anything else is to quit when you’re behind.

Also, re @dannyc‘s comment, I think Obama is every bit as good an orator and inspirational as Reagan, and I have seen no evidence that Clinton was smarter…he might be, but I see nothing to indicate that when I look at what the two men accomplished in their lives on their way to the White House. It actually sort of seems to me 8 1/2 years removed from the Clinton years that many of Clinton’s actions weren’t all that great.

Just my opinion.

CMaz's avatar

“On social policy he has been exemplary”
That’s code for, good showmanship.

And, as far as the stimulus money goes. He could have done the right thing and came off as the second coming of christ. But he plaid us. Money went from the left pocket to the right pocket.

filmfann's avatar

On a side note, very few political terms piss me off as much as the term “That’s code for…” It makes me want to smack people. “Say what you mean” is my mantra.

CMaz's avatar

“It makes me want to smack people.”
That’s code for, me and my dog are more then friends.”

filmfann's avatar

I guess I should be happy for you and your dog, but I’m not.

mattbrowne's avatar


msright1981's avatar

He is doing great for everyone in my eyes.

cdwccrn's avatar

Very well. Makes me proud tone an American.

kenmc's avatar


He’s not doing great for the gays.

dalepetrie's avatar

@boots – again, he’s doing better than any President before him on gay rights issues, he’s just not jumping the gun because he’s smart enough to know that if he pushes too hard in the wrong direction, the net result will be negative. I know it’s easy to say, as a person who is not denied any rights, that the people who are being discriminated against need to be patient, but if they aren’t, they’ll do more harm for the cause than good. I sometimes think the gays wouldn’t be happy unless Obama just signed an executive order declaring gay marriage to be legal in all 50 states now, but first off, such an order could be reversed by the stroke of a pen, and second, it’s currently a state’s rights issue. He has said he will work with Congress to get DOMA repealed, which is the most permanent, most effective way to do it,but that it’s not his place to disobey the law of the land…he needs to uphold the laws, that’s his job, that’s what he’s sworn to do…even if he personally disagrees with them. What really upsets me when people bad mouth Obama for not doing enough for gays is that they can NEVER tell me exactly what he should have done instead, other than he should have said x, y or z, which if you go with that argument, they can never tell me how it would have helped the cause in the long run. In other words, come up with a coherent criticism and an alternate decision or give it time, one or the other.

kenmc's avatar

@dalepetrie What has he done for gay rights?

He’s keeping “Don’t ask don’t tell”.

He stated during his campaign that he was against gay marriage.

Keeping patient (as you put it) is ridiculous. Getting your basic rights shouldn’t be a waiting game. You are supposed to have them at birth as an American.

dalepetrie's avatar

@boots – WRONG!

When asked on about “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Obama spokesman said, “You don’t hear politicians give a one-word answer much. But it’s ‘Yes.” Then later, “There are many challenges facing our nation now and the president-elect is focused first and foremost on jump-starting this economy. So not everything will get done in the beginning but he’s committed to following through..”

And though I don’t wholly agree with Obama on his stance against gay marriage, he is for gay equality including rights to the legal equivalent of marriage. This “controversy” stems from a statement he made to the Chicago Tribune, where Obama said, “I’m a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.” So essentially if I read him correctly, I’d say that he’s technically right on this issue because basically the government NEVER should have called the legal agreement to share property, survivorship and parenting rights “marriage”, the legal equivalent of ALL marriages should be called something other than marrige, because marriage is a religious concept that predates any laws that government puts around it. I have faith in Obama to be smart enough to known that true equality will not be achieved unless there is one standard for everyone (we learned 40 years ago that separate but equal does not work).

Again, I agree you shouldn’t have to wait for your basic rights, but he’s working with what he inherited. To criticize him for not simply overturning 400 years of oppression is fucking ludicrous. It’s not fair that these things take time, but these things take time, period.

kenmc's avatar


“On Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum to extend some, but not all, benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.”

“President Obama’s promise to work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, Wednesday came one week after his administration filed a controversial legal brief supporting DOMA


“As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama vowed to work to overturn the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays and lesbians in the military. But since taking office, Obama has made no specific move to do so.

“In a brief, the Obama administration had said the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is “rationally related to the government’s legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion.””

Here’s my argument. Wrong? Maybe. I don’t personally know the man. All I know is what I read in the news, and what’s here isn’t terribly promising.

tinyfaery's avatar

Yeah, all those blacks marching in the streets, being beaten and jailed, lynched and discriminated against should have just waited until politics was ready for them.~

dalepetrie's avatar

@boots – Yes, his administration filed a controversial legal brief supporting DOMA. BUT, he said even after doing this that he does NOT agree with DOMA, but he IS the President, he DID take an oath to uphold the law of the land, DOMA IS the law of the land, and for him to just ignore the law of the land…well that would be what Bush did, wouldn’t it. He said we need to change this law through Congress. Basically by his administration filing a legal brief in support of DOMA is no different than me saying, well, I think DOMA sucks, I want to get rid of it, but it is a legally enacted law. Does that sound to you like I support DOMA? He’s saying that it’s legally valid, not morally sound, there’s a difference.

@tinyfaery – So, before the civil rights movement, I guess no blacks ever fought for their rights? It took time, sorry, morally it shouldn’t have…but it DID. And it took some pretty skilled lawmakers to do it THE RIGHT WAY. If it hadn’t been done the right way, things would have just gone back to the way they were. And I promise you, if you just try to force the issue for expediency sake and cut some corners, y’all are fucking yourselves over.

kenmc's avatar


“Yes, his administration filed a controversial legal brief supporting DOMA. BUT, he said even after doing this that he does NOT agree with DOMA, but he IS the President, he DID take an oath to uphold the law of the land, DOMA IS the law of the land, and for him to just ignore the law of the land…well that would be what Bush did, wouldn’t it.”

…So he can do something, but say he wanted to do the opposite and then it’s all ok? I think not.

dalepetrie's avatar

@boots – no, NOT do the opposite, simply he affirmed that yes, it is the law now, but he will change it, just not by going out and trying to pull some executive branch trick which might provide temporary relief through the wrong channels. Bottom line, the law was enacted by Congress, so anything OTHER than an act of Congress repealing it is MEANINGLESS in the long run. What would you rather have…6 months to full equality that lasts until the moment the next President signs it away with a stroke of a pen, or a year or two to create a lasting equality that won’t be quite so easy to get rid of? As fucked up as it is to tell people to wait for their rights, in this case, I’d wait. I mean, if you came to my house and told me you were hungry, I could feed you the raw steak in my fridge and you wouldn’t be hungry anymore, or I could take some time to cook the damn thing…which would YOU rather have? My point is, people get frustrated with Obama because he does things by the book, but it is exactly BECAUSE he is going by the book which imbues his actions with a meaning that will last forever. I personally think you’re blinded by emotion if you can’t see that.

tinyfaery's avatar

If someone was truly starving a cracker would be better than waiting for steak. Not that I am saying that I’m starving, I’m just making a point.

“If not us, who? If not now, when?”— Unknown

msright1981's avatar

@boots I am sorry I am straight, but I have not really followed his politics about gays yet. I wish you posted what you hated about it in that regard to catch up on that.

kenmc's avatar

@dalepetrie I was answering your question. That was my evaluation of his first 5 months and reasons why I said what I said.

@msright1981 I don’t know what being straight has to do with it. I’m straight too but knew the things I’ve posted above.

SeventhSense's avatar

Equating civil rights with gay rights is laughable. Not having a tax write off is not the same as being forced to the back of the bus and to a third rate education. Last I saw Steve and Larry could sit anywhere they wanted at Starbucks and could even take a bathroom break in equal facilities.

dalepetrie's avatar

@boots – and I was simply responding to why I think your evaluation lacks perspective. I understand your point of view.

@tinyfaery – and I see extending some same sex benefits at the Federal level as a pretty nice cracker. Problem is, if you give the person enough crackers to gorge himself (which shouldn’t be hard if they are starving), then they get full and can’t enjoy the full meal you’ve prepared, to carry the analogy 3 steps too far. My point is simply that you can have it fast or you can have it right…efficiency and effectiveness are in play here and you have to balance them properly. Not being personally affected one way or the other (with the exception of how it affects my gay friends and family), I’d much rather see the most effective laws possible enacted, but were I personally affected, I might want it right now more than I wanted it right. I think you have to emotionally detatched from this issue to solve it, to be honest, and I’m sorry, but that means you gotta wait, as horseshit as that is, because I’d much rather have gays be pissed now but then achieve true lasting equality than to have them jubilant now, only to have it all come crashing down in a few years, which is what I guarantee you will happen if Obama overplays his hand today. I completely agree with you though, it’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s not good and it needs to change sooner rather than later…I just want to see it done right, and not being blinded by emotion, it seems to me that Obama is doing just that.

@SeventhSense – it is about FAR more than tax writeoffs. What if you want to have a kid? What if you want to leave your possessions to the person you built your life with, only to have a 6th cousin twice removed assert more legal rights to your stuff when you die than your lifepartner? What if you end up in the hospital and the one person you want to see can’t even visit you because you’re not “family”. It sure as fuck is a violation of people’s basic civil rights and can have a lot more consequences than a “tax writeoff”.

tinyfaery's avatar

@SeventhSense Not worthy of a response. Your homophobia is getting boring.

@dalepetrie Who is to say that anything enacted now would not be lasting? I will never believe in sacrificing the present to the future.

dalepetrie's avatar

@tinyfaery – history is to say. Choosing to disregard laws legally enacted by Congress is not the role of the President, regardless of what GW Bush thought, for the most recent example. Anything the President can do with a stroke of a pen can be undone by the next President by the stroke of a pen. It is the job of the legislative branch to make the laws…that is how our Constitution is set up, that is how it has worked for 228 years, and though there are work arounds, they have no permanence, no gravity. I personally will not sacrifice doing the right thing to plugging a hole and calling it good enough.

SeventhSense's avatar

I beg your pardon? You’ve mistaken me for another.
Is there no answer in the politically correct playbook for this question save the homophobic dismiss? I expect more from you @tinyfaery.

msright1981's avatar

@boots I meant people usually look at what is related to their way of life more than stuff that affect others. I mean it might be a bit ignorance in others problems due to time constrains.

dannyc's avatar

@tinyfaery . America is still not quite ready for full gay rights, it seems, but keep applying the logical pressure. Eventually you will win the struggle for full acceptance. In the sense that Obama is a step forward from the last character, as Seventh Sense says, that is progress, but I understand your frustration. I can honestly say in Canada, that even the hardest core anti-gay person has now had to keep their prejudices to themselves, which they have a right to have of course to their opinion. But now most of the population just accepts the fact, and the world, not surprisingly, has not come to an end as the detractors predicted. Naturally, when this subject comes up, I try and evidence the folly of the logic in showing how their fears have never had a germ of reality in the dire consequences they predicted.

msright1981's avatar

@dannyc I think American readiness is different from region to region, from state to a state & even for a community to another. Its hard to tell if the over all is ready for that or not.

SeventhSense's avatar

Good points about the inheritance. I think the other points that you raise are also germane. The problem is that there are many legal issues surrounding this and the implications are quite complex regarding the judicial system. So, it is changing, but perhaps slower than the gay community would like. I can’t blame them, but unfortunately, that’s how the system moves. If every issue became precedent without the deliberation of process our legal system would become highly unstable.

dalepetrie's avatar

@SeventhSense – I agree completely….it’s very important, it’s human rights, it’s not OK to withhold them from anyone, but yet it’s been done throughout human history and it’s not going to change overnight. I think if anyone can change it, Obama can, but five months can’t reverse thousands of years of discrimination.

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