A little more than a year ago, after a sea of expectation and excitement had hit the entire world, Barack Obama swore as the 44th President of the United States of America. I would lie if I said I wasn’t excited myself, of course I was, and not only because of the firing speeches and the close race, but because it actually seemed as a change of paradigms from the Bush-era world to a more reasonable and diplomatic one. However if you take a look on US newspapers you will find out that the words hope and change have been substituted by underachievement and disappointment, you will face an enormous amount of analysis where the pros and cons lists are as huge as my own groceries list at the end of the month, like if the love affair between a country and its messiah was over.
But America ended up its honeymoon with its flamboyant President long ago, perhaps even at the very first moment he swore in. Guantanamo Bay’s closure was a major unfulfilled promise that hit on the US’s main priority: security. Then, not long after settling into the White House and acquiring a Portuguese waterdog, President Obama went after a major issue, one that has been left in the dark one administration to the next one; health care. Spending an enormous amount of political capital and taking advantage of a filibuster-proof Senate majority and a super majority in the House of Representatives, President Obama soon found enormous resistance in his intentions to push forward universal health care. He even took the issue to town hall meetings all over the country that soon came out of control, becoming some sort of with hunting trials where people would scream out their fears, their concerns and more than once, their incongruences.
Universal health care isn’t a major issue in a country like Sweden or anywhere else in Europe, where it is a given fact that the State should look after everyone who hasn’t the possibility to receive proper health care. Well, that vision in America is not the rule, where more taxes is not the option and universal health care can dubbed as socialism, adjective powerful enough to drive someone out of office. So far a bill on health care reform has been boycotted by Congressmen, Senators, the media and the public in general that after voting for Obama and his idea of health care reform, now say they are just fine with what they have. Yes, voters are that moody.
The thing is that Barack Obama has been surrounded by controversy ever since taking office, he was a man that inherited a lacerated government, a major economic meltdown, two wars and a country divided in every major issue. He had to take fierce movements and tough decisions and that he did. He pushed forward the largest bailout program in the US history, took over failed financial institutions and rescued the dying auto industry… I mean, the guy saved Detroit and that is a huge city!
However all the good things he did, he certainly lost touch with the common man’s interests and that reflected on the Massachusetts Senate election lost by the Democrats (sure the Democratic candidate sucked but still…), he failed twice in Copenhagen (Chicago Olympic bid and Climate Change summit), he did not succeed on achieving a health care reform, bipartisanship in Washington is still MIA, Wall Street has not change its casino economics style and Al-Qaeda has grown even more powerful. Despite all the bad stuff President Obama might have on its first year resumé, he has certainly given huge steps in areas like diplomacy where he has been able to restore some of America’s image around the world, his speech at El Cairo was perhaps one of the most reconciling ones in the history of presidential oratory.
So, after one year I believe his presidency is not the failure that Glenn Beck and Fox News wants us to believe nor the complete success anyone thinks it is. It has been the year where reality hit us hard again, where the honeymoon ended and where even weird things happened (Peace Nobel Prize? Really?), this was a year of adjustments and disappointments, a year where we found out that hope and change can be really strange bugs.