Thought Possible

notes & magnifications, by J.E. Robertson
Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 6, 2010 11:18AM

Obama's First Year: a Long List of Underreported Successes

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At the end of Barack Obama's first year in office, there is controversy over the nature and extent of his accomplishments, and even some allies and supporters appear to have forgotten the atmosphere of multidirectional crisis in which Obama took office. What's more, the steady decline in Obama's approval ratings appears to follow very closely a shift in media reporting away from reporting facts and back to the hyper-commentary style of the run-up to the Iraq war, an atmosphere in which conservative political propaganda fares better than the facts of deliberative action.

Pres. Obama was accused early-on of making an unprecedented list of promises, and even by the time of his inauguration, there was speculation about a gap in election-year perceptions and aspirations and the realities of governing. It became popular in the mainstream media to propagate this "controversy", asserting that Obama was "too idealistic" or even "naïve" and that somehow the "hard realities" of governing would, in time, make his Republican opponents' case for them. 2009 has largely been a year in which media reporting has moved in the direction of promoting false controversies and enforcing self-fulfilling prophecies for their value as marketing tools.

Many of his detractors, and even some of his wavering supporters, will be surprised to learn that in his first year, Barack Obama has already fulfilled at least 79 campaign promises. This is one of the most accomplished records of any first year in office, and it has come with considerable difficulty in working with and around a Congress fraught with obstructionism and distracted by its own mythology regarding specific points of policy, and in the face of the most uniform and inflexible opposition any president in recent decades has faced.

The 79 promises kept, as fact-checked and reported by PolitiFact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking service of the St. Petersburg Times, are as follows:

  • No. 6: Create an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to invest in peer-reviewed manufacturing processes
  • No. 15: Create a foreclosure prevention fund for homeowners
  • No. 16: Increase minority access to capital
  • No. 33: Establish a credit card bill of rights
  • No. 36: Expand loan programs for small businesses
  • No. 40: Extend and index the 2007 Alternative Minimum Tax patch
  • No. 50: Expand the Senior Corps volunteer program
  • No. 58: Expand eligibility for State Children's Health Insurance Fund (SCHIP)
  • No. 76: Expand funding to train primary care providers and public health practitioners
  • No. 77: Increase funding to expand community based prevention programs
  • No. 88: Sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • No. 110: Assure that the Veterans Administration budget is prepared as 'must-pass' legislation
  • No. 119: Appoint a special adviser to the president on violence against women
  • No. 125: Direct military leaders to end war in Iraq
  • No. 132: No permanent bases in Iraq
  • No. 134: Send two additional brigades to Afghanistan
  • No. 154: Strengthen and expand military exchange programs with other countries
  • No. 167: Make U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional on anti-terror efforts
  • No. 174: Give a speech at a major Islamic forum in the first 100 days of his administration
  • No. 182: Allocate Homeland Security funding according to risk
  • No. 184: Create a real National Infrastructure Protection Plan
  • No. 200: Appoint a White House Coordinator for Nuclear Security
  • No. 208: Improve relations with Turkey, and its relations with Iraqi Kurds
  • No. 212: Launch an international Add Value to Agriculture Initiative (AVTA)
  • No. 215: Create a rapid response fund for emerging democracies
  • No. 222: Grant Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send money to Cuba
  • No. 224: Restore funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne/JAG) program
  • No. 225: Establish an Energy Partnership for the Americas
  • No. 239: Release presidential records
  • No. 241: Require new hires to sign a form affirming their hiring was not due to political affiliation or contributions.
  • No. 247: Recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession
  • No. 266: Encourage water-conservation efforts in the West
  • No. 269: Increase funding for national parks and forests
  • No. 270: Increase funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • No. 272: Encourage farmers to use more renewable energy and be more energy efficient
  • No. 277: Pursue a wildfire prevention and management plan
  • No. 278: Remove more brush, small trees and vegetation that fuel wildfires
  • No. 284: Expand access to places to hunt and fish
  • No. 290: Push for enactment of Matthew Shepard Act, which expands hate crime law to include sexual orientation and other factors
  • No. 300: Reform mandatory minimum sentences
  • No. 307: Create a White House Office on Urban Policy
  • No. 325: Create an artist corps for schools
  • No. 326: Champion the importance of arts education
  • No. 327: Support increased funding for the NEA
  • No. 332: Add another Space Shuttle flight
  • No. 334: Use the private sector to improve spaceflight
  • No. 336: Partner to enhance the potential of the International Space Station
  • No. 337: Use the International Space Station for fundamental biological and physical research
  • No. 338: Explore whether International Space Station can operate after 2016
  • No. 342: Work toward deploying a global climate change research and monitoring system
  • No. 345: Enhance earth mapping
  • No. 346: Appoint an assistant to the president for science and technology policy
  • No. 356: Establish special crime programs for the New Orleans area
  • No. 359: Rebuild schools in New Orleans
  • No. 371: Fund a major expansion of AmeriCorps
  • No. 380: Bolster the military's ability to speak different languages
  • No. 391: Appoint the nation's first Chief Technology Officer
  • No. 394: Provide grants to early-career researchers
  • No. 411: Work to overturn Ledbetter vs. Goodyear
  • No. 420: Create a national declassification center
  • No. 421: Appoint an American Indian policy adviser
  • No. 427: Ban lobbyist gifts to executive employees
  • No. 435: Create new criminal penalties for mortgage fraud
  • No. 452: Weatherize 1 million homes per year
  • No. 458: Invest in all types of alternative energy
  • No. 459: Enact tax credit for consumers for plug-in hybrid cars
  • No. 460: Ask people and businesses to conserve electricity
  • No. 475: Require states to provide incentives for utilities to reduce energy consumption
  • No. 480: Unprecedented expansion of funding for regional high-speed rail
  • No. 483: Invest in public transportation
  • No. 484: Equalize tax breaks for driving and public transit
  • No. 494: Share enviromental technology with other countries
  • No. 498: Provide grants to encourage energy-efficient building codes
  • No. 500: Increase funding for the Environmental Protection Agency
  • No. 502: Get his daughters a puppy
  • No. 503: Appoint at least one Republican to the cabinet
  • No. 506: Raise the small business investment expensing limit to $250,000 through the end of 2009
  • No. 507: Extend unemployment insurance benefits and temporarily suspend taxes on these benefits
  • No. 513: Reverse restrictions on stem cell research

Most of these items are complex campaign pledges that Pres. Obama has been able to follow through on. Some just show he's a man who follows through on his word, something the media should take more note of. But PolitiFact's research shows a long list of serious political accomplishments, many of historic import, yet the mainstream media continues to report on the delays seen in enacting the most complex and comprehensive reforms undertaken in a generation, many of which —like healthcare reform, energy policy reform, terror prosecutions and financial regulatory reform— are actually moving forward at a historically meaningful pace, and will likely be achieved in the first half of 2010.

There are a further 226 campaign promises officially listed, after extensive fact-checking, as "in the works", as of this morning. Many of these will be accomplished in 2010, giving Pres. Obama the most extensive record of success in fulfilling specific campaign promises in US history. We can expect this fact will not be widely reported, as the mainstream news media appear determined to posture "objectivity" by refusing to report successes Obama's opponents refuse to acknowledge.

The perception that Pres. Obama has failed to aggressively pursue the progressive agenda he ran on is owing largely to the fact that his legislative and governing style is rooted in principled coalition-building. As both state senator in Illinois and as US senator from Illinois, Obama had important legislative successes that required building consensus across the aisle, with often ideologically-opposed allies on specific issues, like predatory lending and ethics reform.

It is likely the legislative schedule of 2010 will demonstrate that no president in recent history has had so many major legislative achievements, and that will be due to Obama's insisting that principled policy-making move forward, even where compromises need to be made with ideological opponents, all in the interests of progress. Perhaps no president since John F. Kennedy so deliberately sought to move a progressive legislative agenda forward, and Obama is already being compared to Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson in terms of the scope and historic import of his legislative agenda. 

While critics on the right and the left claim the Obama presidency has been marked by compromise and a strict partisan divide in the Congress, it has been remarkably productive so far. In an atmosphere of crisis and deep public malaise, with hostile opposition to any substantive innovations in policy or principled, compromise, Pres. Obama has found a way to achieve real breakthroughs that will benefit the nation over the long-term, consistently taking a pragmatic approach to solving intensely complex problems. 

Pres. Obama has had the privilege, or perhaps the burden, of being the most inspiring political figure in recent memory in US politics, yet he is also the most frequently threatened. The number of alleged plots to assassinate him has been truly worrying, and some of his adversaries have been willing to speak of armed rebellion in the national media. But that vitriol and hatred should not be allowed to detract from what has been an historic and accomplished first year in office, showing real progress on issues of vital long-term relevance to the well-being of the American people. 

Everyone who pretends to speak of the quality or the success of Pres. Obama's first year in office has to be mindful that gossip-journalism and the reporting of conventional wisdom can lead to their collaborating with his least credible and most hateful opponents in spreading myths and distortions that work against the very things he was elected to do, in the interest of the American people. 

For the rest of this article, please visit CafeSentido.com 

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Good for Obama. Good for the American people. As long as he continues to let Wall Street bankers dictate macroeconomic policy, as long as he continues to accept insurers as the arbiters of healthcare policy and as long as he fails to pursue an accounting of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the administration his replaced, all of Obama's other successes will be overshadowed by his failures.
People forget how the Bush/Cheney years changed this country. It was becoming a place I did not recognize. Living overseas, I saw it all through the eye of the British media, which I must say is far more thorough and objective than the US media has become.

Obama was elected when the country was in deep shit, probably the deepest since WW II, with a load of inherited problems and an agenda to create real change. Change in the most tranquil of times is not easy--some people will fight it all the way. JE, your article points out that he is getting results. You're right, we don't hear enough about it in the media. What we hear is mostly a lot of idiots who want to upset people and distract them from the issues.

Obama has been in office just under a year. Can we give him a little more time before we write him off completely?

Rated.
Lonnie, I agree that the trends toward corporate impunity and rigged markets are bad for everybody, but it is disingenuous to suggest this is Obama's agenda. The healthcare reform legislation passed in both houses of Congress has as its salient feature, at the demand of Obama himself, a permanent ban on discriminating against patients for illness or for "pre-existing conditions". He asked the attorney general to investigate possible crimes from the previous administration, and that is taking place: forcing the issue into the spotlight would be hugely damaging to Obama's agenda and to the goals you would like him to achieve. I also think it's clear that in just under a year, Obama has done more to steer the direction of macroeconomic policy away from the whims and interests of Wall Street bankers, though for the good of the overall economy, where nearly every element of economic activity is connected in some way to Wall Street, those banks were saved, so we could speed our way to recovery. Solving problems of deeply rooted long-term distortion and abuse is not something that is done with the stroke of a pen or a single flourish of bullyish rhetoric, or even with just one year of bold legislation. It takes time.
Thanks for this. Many overlook the huge number of ways that an administration change affects millions of people. Some of these items are huge. For example, Lisa Jackson at EPA is doing a fantastic job on a number of fronts. In addition to the things this administration has accomplished so far, most Obama critics from the left ignore the huge amount of damage a McCain presidency would have caused.
We give a newly hired NFL coach four years to turn a franchise around...but Obama’s true enemies, the unrealistic liberal and left-of-center progressives…expect him to turn the ship of state around in a year.

Thanks for this post, J.E.

There will be lots more disappointments before these four years pass…but the guy seem to honestly be trying to get the most out of a political climate that sucks.

The liberals and progressives constantly nipping at his heels ought to hide their heads in shame!
Thanks for putting this out there! I am tweeting this information and facebooking it and will ask friends to pass along this information. It is truly uplifting to read. rated ~
One of the most important posts I've seen since joining OS. This info should be trumpeted from the rooftops. But it won't be as our medial has other goals in mind besides the well being of this country. It would seem that our media is chiefly interested in scandal mongering and exposing us to right wing agitprop. I am ready to say that the mainstream corporate controlled media is just as dangerous, if not more so, than the jihadists.
Neocons control the Republican party and the neocon ideology is fascist.
Thank you for this, and for the research it shows you've done. I feel very encouraged. I get really tired of the bashing.
Rated.
Not to get (too) snarky, but is "No. 502: Get his daughters a puppy" really "a complex campaign pledge that Pres. Obama has been able to follow through on"? That list needs some pruning.
Thanks for this. I have been one of the liberal supporters of Pres. Obama that has been faltering and losing heart to some degree. His treatment of the big banks in particular has caused be great disappointment. But when I see this list, it helps me to keep things in better persepctive.
Point taken. But given the media climate and the issue of allergies, it was indeed a pressurized political environment in which the first family chose their puppy. I kid, but I think rather than pruning the list, we should just focus on the fact that this president actually does what he promised to do, and has made very major reforms actually happen, which benefit our democracy in real ways. It's also worth looking into the 226 other promises "in the works", to get an idea of just how much hard work is required to do what he does.
I think you are overstating the case a bit and being a bit loose with what you call a kept promise. For example, No. 300: Reform Mandatory Minimum Sentences. Obama has done no such thing. All he has done is sign a law that requires a study of mandatory minimums. Whenever the government doesn't want to do something, it orders a study. So to say that a study equals reform is just preposterous. Also many of these things are fairly minor, and we can all live our lives blissfully unaware of these "changes" because they really don't have much impact. BUT, on the issue of health care, which will have a huge impact on everyone, he has blatantly and unequivocally sold out whatever principles he had on the subject. So...maybe a myriad of tiny, insignificant actions, and several massive, hard-to-ignore betrayals.
Roman, I understand the frustration over issues like the inability to get a robust public option through the Senate, but disagree with several of your points. First of all, living "blissfully unaware" of something does not mean it has no impact. Just today, it was Obama himself who reminded the media that the Recovery Act included the biggest investment in education in US history. There is no other form of investment, public or private, that is so effective at creating future prosperity, yet the fact that most people are "blissfully unaware" of this fact means most politicians only talk about education and never do anything to support progress.

On mandatory minimum sentences, it's PolitiFact's fact-checking that shows Obama followed through, not my random assessment. And the "study" is actually a government-wide national review of the established laws and policies, requiring all relevant agencies to provide hard numbers relating to the real long-term impact on both crime rates and the prison population; this has never been done, even on a small scale; it is the most significant reform regarding mandatory minimum sentencing policy to date.

On healthcare, Obama has not "blatantly and unequivocally sold out whatever principles he had on the subject" as you suggest. I, too, am frustrated that a robust public option looks unlikely to be part of the exchanges, but the legislation will create low-cost exchanges and mandate the creation of low-cost, full-coverage non-profit policies, if not a public option.

The president's principles hinge on demanding strict regulation that requires insurers to provide coverage without discrimination and without the threat of dropping the sick. The most important and far-reaching aspect of the reforms, the requirement that no one be denied access to coverage and no one be denied coverage or dropped due to illness or pre-existing conditions, and it's in the legislation and will become law.
I get really tired of the bashing.

Really? Were you energized by the endless bashing of Bush?

But even more priceless is the notion that Obama is suffering from his treatment by the media. Were you born yesterday? The media go where the story is, and right now the story is that Obama's attempts to socialize the United States have run up against a brick wall.
Obama is not trying to "socialize the United States". This is one of the peculiarly irrelevant attacks that is being widely publicized by an inattentive press. Obama's approval numbers have suffered mainly because the progressive base has been convinced that somehow Obama's policies have been good for corporations and big banks but not for ordinary people. This is also largely due to skewed reporting of the facts. Each of us has the responsibility to actually find the facts and make informed choices about our future; we can't do this if we spend our time parroting facile and convenient distortions.
That is certainly a useful list of promises. Thank you for collecting them. Time will tell if more activist government is what we needed at this moment. I suspect not, but it is too early to tell who is right.
I appreciate the response J.E. I still do not equate a "review" of sentences as in any way equivalent to a reform. And as for this summary of the healthcare bill: "The most important and far-reaching aspect of the reforms, the requirement that no one be denied access to coverage and no one be denied coverage or dropped due to illness or pre-existing conditions...it's in the legislation and will become law." No-one will be "denied access" because failing to find and pay for health care access will be illegal and punishable by fine. The bill itself does not provide access to health care for anyone. And sure, insurers won't be able to deny coverage or drop it due to illness, but they can charge whatever they want to for the coverage. And now you will be forced to pay for it. "Low-cost" is a relative term, and the millionaires in Congress generally have an unrealistic view of what that means. The mandate will be immediate, but the subsidies to make it "low-cost" don't start for 5 years. This bill is an utter and complete disaster. But it could have been something that actually helped the American people, had the President cared enough to actually try and get a good bill passed.
He certainly beats the alternative: John Sidney McCain III
Roman, I think you're right that it would be very negative indeed for so many important aspects of health insurance reform to be linked to a mandate for coverage that gives total free rein to insurers to charge whatever premiums they want. There has to be some provision that allows for the establishment of viably-priced low-cost full-coverage policies. I think this is more likely to be part of the final bill than most people think, but positive pressure in that direction could help. There is, even in the Senate measure, very serious funding for subsidies that will help individuals and small businesses afford coverage.
Thank you. I'm so tired of the lies and tirades on Foul Noise and other so-called "new broadcasting" stations.
great list...however, was 502 really a "campaign promise"? If that's all it takes...

However, I'm especially glad about 119, 290, 411, 421, 435, 480, 483...
Stellaa, you're so right, it's not appropriate for people to be posting commercial nonsense posing as comments or responses to comments. Bendab's ads have been removed for that reason.
Most of these items can be described as: he took your money and gave it to [fill in the blank].

This type of Obama worship is truly pathetic.

"No. 337: Use the International Space Station for fundamental biological and physical research"

Yes, because before Obama the space station was used to host extravagant parties with strippers floating around poles.
Well, he did get his daughters a puppy, but he has not ended the illegal detention without trial at Guantanamo. Not all campaign promises are equal.
I think to those who STILL detract from his accomplishments, after seeing a list like this, I remind them, it's been ONE year. W. Bush had 8 to create a laundry list of cluster f***s, so let's give President Obama a little more time. He did after all inherit more problems than any President in my lifetime or most anyone on here's lifetime.
Rated
I'm so glad to read this post. I've heard it asked more than a few times lately about what Obama's grade would be for his first year. I heard Charlie Gibson say in a recent interview that he should be given an incomplete. He still has so much to accomplish. I personally think he's done a great job. He started out running, and hasn't stopped yet. I don't think the latest terrorist threat is his fault, and I think he is being unfairly blamed by Republicans.

As far as healthcare is concerned, I think the Republicans are from another planet. I'm embarrassed by my own state senator from New Hampshire, Judd Gregg, who doesn't think anything should change. To say I'm happy that he won't run for re-election after his term is up is an understatement!

I know that Obama got something passed regarding student loans, yet I've not been able to get any real information on how this is going to help my daughter who is not in school this year because her bank changed the rules, and wouldn't give her a lown without a co-signer (something they had not required for the first year) after she had already started school, and was doing very well. Life around my house has been a nightmare with a devastated, angry and depressed daughter around all the time. How is what he changed going to help my daughter? No one seems to know the answer to this very important question.

Bush and Cheney left this country in a supreme mess. I'm not embarrassed by my president any more.
Katherine wrote:

I'm not embarrassed by my president any more.

My guess is that there are a ton of us out here who feel that way.

Good sum-up, Katherine.
Thanks for posting the list. It's in the nature of things that such a list can be nitpicked as it will sometimes include items that have not yet had any effect (appointed an adviser to..., undertaken a study, introduced...). But there are many steps in the right direction

As someone already mentioned, NFL coaches are usually given four years to turn a losing franchise around and it's the rare NFL team that was in as bad a shape as the USA was post-Bush.

Two other points are worth noting. Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. What kind of judge would a Republican have appointed? And just recently, Obama authorized the CIA to resume collecting data on things like ice cap movements. They did this under Clinton but Bush put a stop to it.
Thank you for this article. It's been abominably frustrating to witness the constant Obama trashing from every angle of the political spectrum as he attempts to untangle the web of political malfunctions that have plagued the nation since the Bush regime took to toppling all our dominoes. Personally, I've not seen a harder working President in my lifetime and I appreciate the fact that whatever lack of accomplishment he demonstrates isn't due to lack of integrity. The realities of politics are difficult to reconcile with hopefulness, but I believe in Obama because I believe HE believes in his own promises. Unfortunately, he is confronted with a united Republican opposition front gleefully aided and abetted by the Blue Dog coalition, as well as the likes of Joe Lieberman who has done an astounding amount of damage to health care reform all by his lonesome. I consistently hear the words "democratic majority" batted around, but the truth is we don't have the 60 votes necessary to pass massive progressive legislation. Some culling of the blue dog persuasion is in order before the 60-vote majority becomes a reality. We'll see where we are in four years. Meanwhile, the self-fulfilling prophesy conundrum is one that liberals need to address. We sure could use more get-up-and-go and a lot less I-told-you-so.
Thank you, kfreed; it's true there's been a real carnival of faux journalism and programmatic manipulation throughout 2009 making believe the Republican party is presenting a serious ideas-based opposition, when it is simply seeking to slander the president and sabotage the legislative process, while doing great harm to the wellbeing of the American people. And the so-called "conservative Democrats" and Joe Lieberman of the Joe Lieberman party (literally true) are using the feeble logic of political cowardice and an inexplicable allegiance to the "small government" ideology of Bush-style radicals to derail the best opportunity for reform in two generations.
Well at first I thought Obama was well falling behind on his promises, I was caught up in the media's expectation. then I thought about health care and his foriegn policy, and how much further he came than anyone before,not to mention how the world has warmed up to us now - but what really changed my mind when it came to obama's first year was this article and the allegory it provided check it out

http://keironjackman.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/obama-the-builder-you-have-a-contract/
Much more ambitious and thorough than my post. Thank you!
Also typical of many politicians, Obama will announce some version of an alleged advance, while acting for it's opposite. For instance making a big to-do about attempting to move the trials of some of the Guantanamo prisoners while arguing in court for the indefinate detention of people picked up in other countries and flown to Afghanistan. Then announcing that he's looking for a "legal framework" to justify indefinite detention on US soil for basically ANYONE. Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the show? In executive power grabs he's sometimes going FURTHER to the right than W. We got the message while he was still a Senator and flipped on FISA.

It doesn't take hours to come up with a significant list of things he and his administration have done that stab progressive in the back - not merely ignoring an issue while he works on another. He (or lawyers working in his name) didn't have to compare gay people with pedophiles while arguing against their rights. The "transperency" president has argued for more state secrets power than Bush was going for.

He's appointed FIVE lawyers from the RIAA to deal with copyright issues in the justice dept.

I'm happy to acknowledge his accomplishments - I came to this site looking for them in fact. And many of the things on the list do make me feel better about him. But it's hard to see this first year as anything less than a disaster for many major civil liberties issues that are outside liberal / conservative frameworks. And a sharp stick in the eye for anything with the idea of "gay" attached to it.
There has to be some provision that allows for the establishment of viably-priced low-cost full-coverage policies. I think this is more likely to be part of the final bill than most people think, but positive pressure in that direction could help. There is, even in the Senate measure, very serious funding for subsidies that will help individuals and small businesses afford coverage.
Golf Dubai
But even more priceless is the notion that Obama is suffering from his treatment by the media. Were you born yesterday? The media go where the story is, man boob exercises and right now the story is that Obama's attempts to socialize the United States have run up against a brick wall.
J.E. Robertson - Let me offer the dissenting view of a disappointed progressive (and Obama supporter/volunteer from 2008).

To begin with, I appreciate the sentiment of several above commenters that a Republican president would have done a worse job. This is true, but sets the bar awfully low.

This list of accomplishments, though, has several flaws:
1) many of the accomplishments are easy (e.g., get a puppy, appoint a Republican to the Cabinet).

2) many of these accomplishments are meaningless/minor without numbers (e.g., encourage water conservation - how much has been conserved? invest in alternative energy - how much money are we talking about?). Lots of very small fry in the list.

3) many of these accomplishments are hollow. Yes, brigades have been sent to Afghanistan, but with no perceptible result. Yes, there is a foreclosure prevention fund (I assume this refers to HAMP) but it's a bureaucratic nightmare that has helped almost no-one). Etc.

And Obama's been very disappointing on three key fronts:

1) He has failed to stand up for the rule of law on things like arbitrary detention or the war crimes of the preceding 8 years; won't allow information released to those suing for torture, etc. I care a great deal about civil liberties & torture and a lot less about things like creating an artists' corp for schools.

2) He's failed to take decisive action on the economy or the banking system. His stimulus was too small & the financial reform too timid. He seems beholden to the financial elites, and thus relinquished populist appeal to the Tea Parties and the other dissatisfied. He refuses to take a stand against those who led us to the brink of global depression.

3) His nature is too vague, aloof. This results in his policies being all half-measures. He seems to believe that compromise with Republicans is possible (and thus months were wasted in passing health care). The final health care bill is hugely conservative; essentially Romneycare, and very similar to Republican proposals when Clinton was President.

Obama seemingly doesn't understand Republican obstructionism or the futility of bipartisan appeal to one's enemies. He seems unwilling to take a principled stand for significant policies. He wouldn't attack BP for the Gulf spill; wouldn't go after the last administration for breaking US law; wouldn't go after the bankers; won't go after the TSA for these idiotic nude scanners. Bush, despite his many failings, at least understood the value of leadership; of taking a clear stand for something against opponents. Obama won't do this. And so the Senate (which rolled over for Bush) was impotent despite a larger Dem. majority; Republicans have no need to compromise with a man who is always willing to compromise further himself.

So, yes, some of us are awfully disappointed, and I'd like to see progress on something a bit more significant to change my mind, not just a wonk's lists of half-measures, flawed legislation, and good intentions.