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Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One | The Nation

Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One

Selections from Nation readers' and Nation contributors' views on Obama's first year and beyond.

  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (1 of 18)

    "No-Drama Obama--remember him? Remember that admirable temperament, that ability to peer over the horizon, that poker player's cool?...That serene immunity to the 24/7 cable/talk-radio/Internet hysteria machine? These qualities of mind and character, which I admired in candidate Obama, I still admire in President Obama. Perhaps that's why I don't see his first year in terms of high points and sharp disappointments. There have been some of each, of course, but he's still up on the bridge, holding a steady course in a violent storm, even as many of the rest of us are clutching the railings and puking over the side." --Hendrik Hertzberg, Senior Editor & Staff Writer, The New Yorker

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (2 of 18)

    "I think President Obama's high points are many. He has provided changes to actions made by George W. Bush that hurt mankind, both physically and environmentally. He has worked hard to repair relationships with countries we need in our corner. In his first year, he has done more for this country than any other in recent history." --Fran Blasquez, "Obama at One" Reader Forum

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (3 of 18)

    "In terms of style of governance, Obama has if anything over-learned some lessons of history: it was good that he didn't want to dictate a health bill to Congress, but he ceded too much authority; it was good that he didn't want to mollycoddle Israel, but he alienated even some friendly Kadima and Labour elements, etc. Those who pay too much attention to history are doomed to... well, maybe we'll see." --Michael Tomasky, Editor, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (4 of 18)

    "Without a doubt, in my mind, the Nobel Prize event is both his highest and lowest moment. It's high because it shows how much faith or perhaps desperation the world has for a potentially strong leader like Obama. Winning was a culmination of at least his foreign policy rhetoric, positively marking his one year of presidency. However, the fact he accepted a prize symbolic of humankind's most formal aspiration of peace, and for much of the world to go along with it, is a very low point during his time in office and for all of us." --Joe Sabet, "Obama at One" Reader Forum

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (5 of 18)

    "The greatest victory of Obama's first year occurred months before it began. It happened when he decided to stitch together the dreams of many stripes of American idealists into one powerful force for change. The greatest failure of his administration's first year rests in the hands of all of us who are committed to manifesting our nation's dream of liberty and justice for all. In too many instances in the past twelve months we have powered down, left the field for the bleachers and chosen to play armchair pundit rather than continue leading." --Benjamin Jealous, President, NAACP

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (6 of 18)

    "The biggest triumph of Obama's first year is the setting of a completely different tone worldwide: America is no longer your adversary, but your partner in dialogue. This is how it was under Bill Clinton, and it is what the world longed for during the long years of Cheney-Bush." --March Emory, "Obama at One" Reader Forum

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (7 of 18)

    "Obama's high point came in mid-April, when he announced he would declassify and release four memos from the Bush Office of Legal Counsel that authorized and graphically described torture techniques used by the CIA. He did so in the face of furious opposition from the intelligence community and with the knowledge that he would be accused of endangering our security. Release of those memos revitalized debate over Bush's torture regime and was an all-too-rare instance of courage and commitment to transparency from the new president." --Glen Greenwald, writer, Salon

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (8 of 18)

    "I've been searching hard for a highlight. The only thing that comes close is some of Obama's rhetoric; I don't see any kind of a highlight in his actions and policies...I think people are dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president--which means, in our time, a dangerous president--unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction." --Howard Zinn, historian

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (9 of 18)

    "In his first year in office, our semi-black corporate shill of a president has been just a continuation of Wall Street business as usual. Even more spending on militarism, habeas corpus denial; healthcare in an even worse quagmire. At every step he's played the hand of corporate America. And the military industrial complex marches on under a new banner. I'm sorry I wasted my vote on Obama, and now you must excuse me for reverse peristalsis is setting in. I won't be fooled again." --John R. Hall, "Obama at One" Reader Forum

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (10 of 18)

    "The only surprise about his presidency is how many ersatz leftists cling to the fiction that he's anything other than a superficially articulate neoliberal Democrat in the Clinton mold and that his administration would act in any other way." --Adolph Reed, Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (11 of 18)

    "The absolute low point would be his recent statement that Congress should not "jam" the healthcare bill until Scott Brown was seated. That takes real gall! The Democrats control two branches but legislating in accord with the majority of the voting public is considered "jamming." He is either delusional or just another paid front man. I'm done with him and his stooges. He'll be a one-term president and good riddance. Let's hope a real populist rises from the ashes of Obama's failed promise." -- Stefan Athanasiadis, "Obama at One" Reader Forum

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (12 of 18)

    "Obama's decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan indicates that he will not break with the existing national security consensus. The candidate who promised to "change the way Washington works" has become Washington's captive. Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009, was truly a great day, for all sorts of reasons. But it's been all downhill since then." --Andrew Bacevich, Professor of International Relations, Boston University

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (13 of 18)

    "In hindsight, if I knew then what I know now, that I would be getting an establishment insider, I should have chosen one who was at least a fighter. If I could go back I would instead voted for Clinton. At least she has a pair." --Scott Jahner, "Obama at One" Reader Forum

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (14 of 18)

    "My hope had been that elevating a progressive African-American Democrat to the nation's highest office would do two things: help to bring about an effective engagement with America's unresolved problems of racial inequality, and begin to reverse our headlong march toward a Hundred Years' War with radical Islam...This administration has shown scant inclination to do either, which is disappointment enough. But worse--far worse--is the likelihood that Obama's failure even to attempt such changes will discredit the very idea that these are worthy objectives for any Democrat." --Glenn Loury, Professor of Social Sciences, Brown University

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (15 of 18)

    "Obama has dithered and waffled and used too many words and not enough action. Wall Street and the Banks continue to run amok. People are still getting screwed and they know it. Right now is our lowest moment I hope. There is nowhere to go but up." --Sharon Rasey, "Obama at One" Reader Forum

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (16 of 18)

    "Someone said recently that FDR carried a smile and a stiletto in his pocket---Obama needs to go beyond the love affair with his smile (which is fantastic) and learn how to use that stiletto--he has to learn how to kill; because his opposition knows and does it as easily as first morning's breath over a cup of coffee." --John Lawrence, "Obama at One" Reader Forum

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (17 of 18)

    "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." --Jason Edwards, "Obama at One" Reader Forum

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  • Slideshow: Highs and Lows of Obama at One (18 of 18)

    "Instead of a high point or a low point, how about a too-early-to-tell point? This is where I think we are during the first year of a four- or eight-year presidency." --Robert Caro, author

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