A Merry Christmas for President Obama?

He signed into law landmark health care and financial reforms; the economy continued to grow, albeit slowly; and the last U.S. combat troops were withdrawn from Iraq. Yet President Barack Obama reaches his term’s halfway point under considerable fire, his party having been KOed in the midterm elections; his opponents say he went too far; some among his base say he balked at going far enough.

Obama signs DADT repeal 12-22-10 (AP photo)Has his agenda been neutralized? Hardly. In what’s probably been the least lame lame-duck session of Congress in a long time, the President saw success on his $858 billion Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010; the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal; the New START treaty’s ratification; the medical benefits for 9/11 responders bill, though cut considerably to satisfy Republicans; a food-safety bill; the Defense Authorization spending bill; and a $250 billion stopgap spending bill that keeps the federal government open for business through early March, among other things.

Did all these things make everyone happy? Of course not. Much of the Democratic party’s liberal base is still angry that the richest Americans saw their tax breaks continued and a jacking up of the estate tax exemption; conservatives are stung by letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military; and so on.

And did he get everything done? Of course not. Senate Republicans succeeded in killing the DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill which would’ve created a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants earning college degrees or serving in the Armed Forces, and a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.

Is something better than nothing? It depends on who’s asking, who’s answering, and what the “something” is, I suppose. But all in all, it’s hard to see how the weeks since Election Day can be seen as anything but a series of policy and political victories for the President, in large part due to some moderate Republicans who – now freed from having to toe the pre-election GOP line – crossed the aisle to vote for cloture and passage on many of these bills.

So, as 2010 draws to a close, do you think President Obama looks back on the year as a bad one or a good one?

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Merton Hanks

    2-3 weeks ago, I’d say probably a bad one. My how things can change in a couple weeks. No question about it now, I’m a dem and I think this President’s resume thus far is a very strong one.

  • RT

    Let us see he wanted Health Care reform and got it and now most of us do not want it, he now got the Start Treaty. Just like with Health Care reform, as more details come out about the Start Treaty, more people will want it changed.
    Short-term wins for a long-term losses,he is his own worst enemy.

  • Josh Richman

    Per Bloomberg Businessweek’s Health Day, a few weeks ago:

    Americans are still deeply divided over the nation’s new health-care reform package, with 28 percent of adults wanting to repeal the legislation while 31 percent favor keeping all or most of the reforms.

    Another 29 percent aren’t sure what should be done.

    Those are several key findings in a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, taken three weeks after the November elections that saw Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives with a pledge to dismantle — or, at the very least, curtail — the controversial legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama in March.

    But the poll revealed an interesting paradox: Large percentages of even those people who want the law repealed are happy with many of its provisions.

    “Pluralities want to repeal all or most of the law, but want to keep much of what’s in it,” said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll. “As we showed in the last Harris/HealthDay poll, it’s easy to believe all the bad things about the law if you don’t know what’s in it,” he added.

    As for the New START treaty, the Senate voted 71-26 to ratify it, and it was supported by the secretaries of state for the last five Republican presidents, so I rather doubt there’s going to be a big groundswell against it in 2011.

  • Elwood

    Re: #2

    Josh has spoken!

    Do not contradict the Josh!

  • Josh Richman

    Might you have any facts – or even some trenchant analysis – to bring to the conversation, Elwood, or just your usual wit?

  • John W

    It’s true about the health care bill. Ask people about “up to 26,” pre-existing conditions, and closing the Medicare prescription drug dougnut hole, and they think it’s just wonderful. But, of course, they hate that health insurance mandate thing, even though very few would themselves choose to be without coverage, and even though the idea originated with the Heritage Foundation. Ironically, during the Dem primaries in 2008, Obama was the only one of the three leading candidates who opposed the idea of the mandate. Anyway, if Congress or the Court kills the legislation, what do I care? I’m on Medicare in March, so keep yer guvmint hands off my health care; and dontcha dare touch my mortgage interest deduction. Just balance the budget.

  • Elwood

    Some posts would benefit greatly from a little less ego and a lot more wit.

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    The Josh. I like that.

  • Josh Richman

    Yeah, it has a certain je ne sais quoi, even though Elwood keeps confusing “ego” with “engaging in any discussion with commenters.” He truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    Elwood and Common Tater are like two peas in a pod.

  • Elwood

    Josh + Barry = true love!

  • Josh Richman

    I’m disappointed, Elwood – did nobody ever teach you that “sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g” schoolyard taunt? Or is that too far over your head?

  • Ralph Hoffmann

    “President Barack Obama has done the best job of any African-American president from Hawaii in the history of our great nation.” – Ralph Hoffmann, as quoted in the Sunday Times, pg A14, January 2, 2011.