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One Year Later
By Carlton U. Forbes
Staff Writer & Columnist
Barack Hussein Obama

It seems only a short while ago when Americans, and viewers from across the globe watched as the 44th President of the US was sworn in. The air in Washington DC was filled with so much hope, expectancy, and optimism. Change was the mantra of the day. “Yes we can!” was the slogan chanted by millions of supporters. Critics, pundits, and supporters waited with bated breath for the most anticipated inauguration address in the nation’s history.

Soon after the inaugural festivities, President Barcak Hussein Obama embarked upon an ambitious agenda—Healthcare Reform, an Economic Stimulus Package, resetting diplomatic relations with the international community, and a shift in strategies for the War on Terror. During his first 100 days, the President was admired, praised, commended, and extolled for his innate virtues in framing the issues, articulating the hopes, and aspirations of so many Americans.

But as the days, weeks and months went by, the new President’s weakness and his opponent’s resolve to derail his efforts in implementing his legislative initiatives became fodder for both comedians and critics. It seems one of Mr. Obama’s most obvious miscalculation was his overabundance of good faith in negotiating with Republicans for the sake of bipartisan support. He was also slow in perceiving that his overly accommodating overtures to a party resolved in becoming his arch-obstructionist would invariably imperil his legislative ambitions. Eventually, the Obama Administration willingly dropped important developments and infrastructure projects from the stimulus bill, in the vain hope of winning Republican support. In the end, the bipartisan conciliations yielded just two votes.

Next was the healthcare debate. Once again, the President was willing to place too much stock in bipartisanship. He squandered valuable time, gave too much leeway to his detractors, and provided his critics ample opportunities to shape the debate and turn public opinion against his reform measures.

It was almost heartbreaking to see a leader praised for his communication skills, yet fail to articulate to the American public the real benefits of reforming the healthcare system. Regrettably, the President left it up to the spineless democratic leaders to water-down the bill, placate the unconscionable insurance industry, and embolden the opponents of health reform. Now, with all the good-faith expended, valuable time squandered, and the public’s confusion exacerbated, “Obama-care” is about to end up in the same place as the Clinton initiative—legislative landfill. With the election of the new Senator-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts, the Obama Administration’s signature issue, healthcare overhaul is now endangered.

Looking back now, it seems the promises sounded too grandiose to be fulfilled. The expectations were too high to be realized. Perhaps, the hopeful promises and optimistic prospects was all inspired by hype. Alas, the loss of economic vitality in the varied industries was too devastating to reverse in just one year.

Some critics have publically voiced their desire for the president’s failure. And there are forces in the opposition who seem determined to make that happen. With the State of the Union fast approaching, the White House is scrambling to find a few legislative or foreign policy achievements to present as trophies won during Mr. Obama’s first year in office.

As the one year anniversary of Obama’s inauguration draws near, it will take nothing short of a miracle to recapture the euphoric feeling of that great day last January. Indeed, Mr. Obama succeeded in using the Junior Senator of Illinois’s office to stage the most important promotion of his life. But it will take another epic movement to win back independents that are turning against the President, and embracing Republican candidates. If per chance he has another winsome charm offensive yet to be revealed, this time, he has less than a year to turn the political tide against his presidency, and re-ignite the mandate for change. What a difference a year makes.

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Carlton U. Forbes, who serves as staff writer & columnist for The Seoul Times, currently teaches Global English at Dongyang University in S. Korea's Yeongju City. Among the books he authored are "A Few Choice Words" and "ESL Teaching Aids." A resident of S. Korea for over a decade Prof. Forbes can be reached at






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