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Tell The Nation: Obama at One | The Nation

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Tell The Nation: Obama at One

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In response to our "Obama at One" forum, readers from across the country wrote to The Nation to share their thoughts on Obama's high and low points from his first year. For many readers, Obama's high point came during his inauguration. But now that the first year has passed, the hope and inspiration they once felt for Obama have turned to feelings of betrayal. Obama has sided with the corporate lawyers and the big banks instead of with the people. His slow progress is much too slow for a party that voted him in for change and reform. Still, there are some that are more forgiving, and hopeful for year number two. Below, read a selection of submissions to The Nation.

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Nowhere to Go But Up

Our world outlook has gone leaps and bounds, but maybe it had nowhere to go but up. To me, the high point started with the healthcare issue. Although I do not fully agree with the bill up for discussion, it is still groundbreaking in nature, and we wouldn't have gotten this far without him. I think he will be one of the greatest presidents we have ever had and I can't wait to help him get elected again.

Kelsey Freeman, 25
Everett, WA

We Must All Have a Choice

I voted for Mr. Obama. Seems to be a likeable guy and all that, but I'm very disappointed that he has surrounded himself with advisors that seem unable to think outside the rut of their training/experiences--mainly, in the financial and healthcare sectors.

When the crisis is over, banks that didn't fail could buy up these loans that the government made. The big bad bankers will have been spanked, their toys taken away and grounded, or their banks will have failed. Take healthcare reform. Is expanding insurance coverage the only way? The British have satisfactory healthcare at one-third our per capita cost--apparently they are three times healthier (stronger, disease-resistant, less coddled) than we are. But we don't want to follow their success. Are our leaders nuts? Costs will never be contained by expanding coverage through private insurance, because the main culprit is the medical business, not insurance.

The problem is hospitals that bill our PPO fifteen times what they are entitled to, anesthesiologists that bill $88 more for the elderly, ambulance services that pad their mileage and services performed, doctors that bill $140-240 for a five-minute exam--under the twisted ethics that since the insurer is paying, they aren't stealing from the patient. To contain healthcare costs, we have to remove the profit incentive--which means government-owned clinics and hospitals staffed by civil servants. And since we must all have choice, let there be private networks (no subsidies direct or indirect) and charity networks (for those who don't want to or can't be in either of the other two networks). Seems like we are sheep following a billy goat.

Ray Kawano, 80
San Jose, CA

Start Pleasing the Citizens, Not the Banks

Let me start off by saying I am an avid fan of The Nation. The high point for Obama in my point of view has to be his demeanor. He always stays calm, cool and collected during the toughest of times. I like the fact that he takes time to understand the information inside and out. I like that fact that he doesn't just jump out in front of a camera. For instance, after the Christmas Day attempted bombing, he took the time, got all the information that he needed and then came out and spoke about what happened.

I think that he is trying to please too many people. The people he needs to worry about pleasing are the citizens, not the banks, not the insurance companies, not Congress, but the people. He needs to get that fire back in his belly. He needs to stand up for what he believes in.

I know that it is hard to get things accomplished in DC. I didn't expect him to have all his policies in place by first year's end. But I did expect him to fight for the average person. He still has time to turn things around, though. And I believe he will. I am the type of person who waits to judge somebody. So I am going to wait to judge this president until his term or terms is complete. I think that this healthcare bill was a start. I would have preferred that he started fighting for single-payer from the start instead of the public option, because maybe things might have been different. Maybe we would have a public option at this point, instead of no public option.

I think he needs to fight harder on financial regulation. We need to end TBTF and treat these bank CEOs as the criminals they are. What they have been doing over the years is a Ponzi scheme. All in all I give the president an A- because of the situation he came into. There is still a lot of time left in his presidency. JFK started off with the Bay of Pigs, he was starting to do great things until he was assassinated. I believe Obama can do the same.

Jason Edwards, 21
Philadelphia, PA

A Full House of Disappointments

The highest point was his inauguration. It was a moment I never thought I would see so soon. Unfortunately, much that transpired between election and inauguration days suggested that little good would follow.

His economic ignorance and the appallingly conservative appointments he made were, and have proven to be, huge deficiencies. His stimulus proposals and actions were woefully inadequate, and we are living with the results: few new or returned jobs and an economy really going nowhere. We also are faced with no consequential changes to our decades-old and disastrous trade policies.

Perhaps my biggest fundamental disappointment has been his adoption of many of the Bush policies regarding state secrets and discarding fundamental constitutional protections as well as his failure to rid himself of the politicized Bush US Attorneys (especially in Alabama). As he is supposed to be a professor of constitutional law, I am astonished by the actions of his seemingly clueless attorney general.

His lack of forceful leadership on healthcare reform is also deeply troubling. He had a significant majority of Americans on the side of serious reform. But he bailed on us. He let DLCers like Emanuel run the White House effort. He let himself be rolled by all concerned.

I no longer expect strong leadership from this man. His insight is hugely suspect. I never confused him with a dedicated progressive or liberal. But when you are dealt a hand full of aces, I do expect strong, intelligent action. He waffled instead and got bluffed out of winning hands on so many fronts. Unless he changes course (and there is still a little time to do so, as did FDR), his excessive caution and his retreaded Clinton administration advisors with all their lessons learned incorrectly will have doomed his presidency to failure.

Norm Conrad, 64
Seattle, WA

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