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Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation | The Nation

Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation

It was a year of struggle and change, heartbreak and promise. Here we've gathered our highest and lowest moments in 2009.

  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (1 of 30)

    In January, following the previous November's historic election, Barack Obama is sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States in front of a record breaking crowd in the nation's capital. In a somber speech, Obama says, "The challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met."

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (2 of 30)

    President Obama inherits the worst economy since the Great Depression. His rhetoric on economic matters is sound but the team he assembles to manage the crisis is full of too many men directly responsible for its collapse.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (3 of 30)

    In February, Obama signs the largest domestic spending bill in generations. While progressives strongly believe the stimulus legislation is not as generous as it should be, they applaud the president's brisk action to kick-start the struggling economy.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (4 of 30)

    President Obama's stimulus bill helps prop up the economy and stop the bleeding. But it fails to adequately address the ongoing foreclosure crisis, which continues to wreak havoc on average Americans' lives.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (5 of 30)

    Even though President Obama is quick to declare a zero tolerance policy for torture he is reluctant to allow investigations into Bush-era officials who authorized illegal interrogations all in the name of national security. Eventually Attorney General Eric Holder announces plans to explore abuse that went beyond standards imposed by Bush but fails to address the lawyers and officials who initially endorsed the practices.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (6 of 30)

    In the wake of Obama's rise Fox News becomes an even more powerful mouthpiece for right-wing rage and opposition. The network's chief instigator is Glenn Beck, who casually proclaims that the president is "racist" and plays a major role in getting Green Jobs czar Van Jones to resign from office due past left wing statements and affiliations.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (7 of 30)

    After breaking with his party to support the stimulus bill and getting a far-right Republican Senate challenger in return, Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter shocks Washington by switching parties and giving the Democrats a filibuster-proof "super majority."

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (8 of 30)

    In a historic speech in Cairo, President Obama breaks with the Bush years by making a sincere pitch for a renewed relationship between the US and the Middle East. Although efforts to have talks with Iran and forge peace between Israel and Palestine have mostly stalled this change in tone is still welcomed by many in the international community.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (9 of 30)

    The disputed June 12 election in Iran (the country's leadership claimed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been re-elected in a landslide) sparks the widest national protests in that country in thirty years. Ultimately the Ahmadinejad victory is made official (and somewhat grudgingly accepted by the US) and a crackdown on dissidents continues to this day.
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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (10 of 30)

    A successful military coup is carried out against populist Honduran president Manuel Zelaya. Coup leaders kidnap the democratically-elected president and eventually succeed in deposing him through military intimidation, a crackdown on the press, and a "sham" election. President Obama weighs in on the "backwards" nature of the coup, declaring that it set a "terrible precedent," and eventually labeling it as an "illegal" act.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (11 of 30)

    The president's selection Sonia Sotomayor (the first Latino and only the third woman) to serve on the US Supreme Court unleashes a torrent of bigotry and sexism from the right. However, Sotomayor's impeccable credentials and poise under pressure overcome the attacks and she is easily confirmed by Congress.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (12 of 30)

    In a long overdue move, the Obama administration effectively puts an end to the term "War on Drugs" and embraces more practical policies such as decriminalizing medical marijuana and lifting the ban on needle exchanges.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (13 of 30)

    During the summer, right-wing extremists stormed healthcare town halls around the country, occasionally brandishing guns and often spewing bigotry. Although they represent the views of a vocal minority, they manage to temporarily co-opt the healthcare debate, and perhaps do irreparable harm.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (14 of 30)

    On August 25 the nation loses arguably the greatest legislator in its history when the "Liberal Lion" Ted Kennedy dies after fighting a long battle with brain cancer. His legacy of legislative accomplishments is unparalleled and his voice in the ongoing healthcare fight is sorely missed.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (15 of 30)

    Somewhat under the radar during the ongoing economic crisis is the pitiful standing of some of the nation's largest states. California for instance (governed by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, pictured) is in a constant state of free fall, with several other major domestic economies like New York not far behind.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (16 of 30)

    Blackwater remains on the US payroll and is very busy in 2009. Besides being implicated in a murder investigation, the shady contracting firm works with the US military in Karachi to plan targeted assassinations and drone bombings, among other sensitive counterterrorism operations.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (17 of 30)

    In addition to the town hall crashers, there are several other fringe groups that gain infamy in 2009. There are the birthers (who question Obama's citizenship), tea partiers (who oppose seeming any form of federal tax), deathers (who insist healthcare reform is a plot to kill the elderly) and finally the 9/12ers who inexplicably want to return Americans to the state of fear and paranoia they felt the day following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (18 of 30)

    Despite a victory for marriage equality earlier in the year in Iowa, 2009 was mostly a year of disappointments for gay rights activists. Obama failed to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell or the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and voters overturned same-sex marriage in Maine.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (19 of 30)

    There are several positive steps toward repairing America's standing in the international community, from opening up more of a dialogue with Cuba to an earnest attempt to restart relations with Russia. This culminates with an Obama address to the UN which was more in the mold of FDR than George W. Bush.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (20 of 30)

    Perhaps the most interesting story to emerge from the G-20 conference in Pittsburgh is the diversity and intensity of the protests which greet the proceedings. The police harassment of demonstrators leaves a bitter legacy for the already polarizing economic summit.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (21 of 30)

    On November 5, the violence of war abroad comes home when a gunman opens fire in the Soldier Readiness Center at Fort Hood, killing thirteen people and wounding thirty others. Right-wingers seize the opportunity to fearmonger because the alleged shooter is Muslim but most likely alienate voters in the process.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (22 of 30)

    As most economists predicted, by the fall of 2009 the US unemployment figure rose above 10 percent for the first time in twenty-six years. Obama and Congress have promised jobs creation initiatives in the new year, but lament that it might be too little, too late.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (23 of 30)

    Voters went to the polls in November to make choices in various regional races with decidedly mixed results for both parties. In what could be viewed as a rebuke of Obama, Democrats lost gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. But a far-right fringe candidate lost the NY-23 to a Dem, despite having the endorsement of Sarah Palin, proving the appeal of the former VP candidate can only go so far.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (24 of 30)

    Speaking of Sarah Palin, she is downright ubiquitous in 2009. First there is her very public griping about the way she was handled during the 2008 campaign. In July 3 she awkwardly resigns from the governorship of Alaska for less than reasonable reasons. Finally in mid-November she releases her best-selling memoir Going Rogue, which seems to be intent to settle scores rather that detail any coherent vision for the country.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (25 of 30)

    The ongoing battle for and against healthcare reform unexpectedly becomes a referendum on the state of reproductive rights when opportunistic, conservative Democrat Bart Stupak forces an incredibly restrictive anti-abortion amendment onto the House version of the health bill. Women are outraged and while the Senate settles for a watered-down Stupak the ultimate fate of women's choice still hangs in the balance.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (26 of 30)

    The revelation that billionaire golf star Tiger Woods has engaged in numerous extramarital affairs distracts not only from the more pressing issues of the day (unemployment, Afghanistan) but also Woods shady business dealings which deserve far more scrutiny than his private life.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (27 of 30)

    After several months of deliberation and against the best wishes of most Americans and some of his own advisors, President Obama announces his intentions to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. In an attempt to placate progressives, he promises to begin withdrawing all troops in 2011 but the chances for success are still dim.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (28 of 30)

    In what can only at best be deemed an ironic choice, President Obama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December shortly after announcing the escalation in Afghanistan. Although the president is humble and articulate in his acceptance speech he continues to reinforce existing and wrongheaded ideas about American exceptionalism and the need for military intervention.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (29 of 30)

    The much-anticipated UN Climate Summit takes place over ten days in Copenhagen, attended by over 200 nations, thousands of protesters, and President Obama as a closing act. The talks fail to craft a legally-binding international deal to cut targets, with the final agreement also lacking any timescale for when such a deal should be made by. Regardless, the deal is hailed as "meaningful" by the Obama administration, citing the consensus between the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa as an important first step towards a unified effort against global warming.

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  • Slide Show: 2009 in The Nation (30 of 30)

    As 2009 draws to a close, an undeniably historic yet fundamentally flawed healthcare bill is on the brink of passage in the United States Senate. While the legislation would significantly alter health insurance and provide coverage for millions of Americans it falls short of the kind of radical reform progressives are hoping for. Still, hope remains that this effort can be built upon and improved in the coming years.

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