A year ago, the mood in Boulder was elation. After eight years of nightmarish governance at the hands of the Bush-Cheney administration, voters had finally put a man in office who reflected our values, who seemed like he was our president. On Jan. 20, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as the nation’s 44th president, thousands of locals watched the inauguration live with their friends, many gathered in coffee houses, sports bars or breakfast joints — any place with live television. When the commentator announced that it was noon in Washington, D.C., and that Obama was technically president of the United States even though he had yet to take the oath of office, the roar was deafening, and there were tears in more than a few eyes.
Fast-forward a year, and the elation has long since faded. Over the past 12 months, there’s been less of the “change we can believe in” and more of the “politics as usual” than many of us were prepared to endure — haters and right-wing pundits who turn every action by Obama into a conspiracy theory; wheeling and dealing with Wall Street CEOs, Big Pharma and health insurance companies; endless Congressional bickering; the expansion of war.
Perhaps Obama’s election signaled less of a change in American society than many supposed it did. Or perhaps those who supported him haven’t held up their end of the bargain, failing to back him up with phone calls to Congress, rallies and the kind of energetic activism that put Obama in the White House in the first place. Or maybe Obama was less inclined to idealism and more interested in pragmatism than his supporters realized.
Over the course of the past 12 months, Boulder Weekly responded to Obama’s actions with ratings on our Obameter, which ran on the paper’s editorial pages. This entirely subjective effort to keep tabs on the performance of this newly elected president resulted in low ratings as often as it resulted in high ratings.
We were unhappy with his lack of action on GLBTQ issues and his bailout of Wall Street, pleased with his support of renewable energy and the way he interacted with other world leaders, but dismayed by the compromises he seemed willing to make with regard to health care reform. Whether you agreed with us depended, of course, on your political point of view.
What follows is a more objective look at President Obama and his first 12 months in office.