• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Midterm Grades: Barack Obama

Ok, so today marks the midway point in the Obama four-year term in office, so we here at OTB are going to go a little grading.  I will go first and other OTBers will follow.

Midterm grades are tough, as one really never knows how things will finish out and so my predilection is to want to assign an incomplete, as that is really the only truly fair grade.

A main problem with any of these types of things is the question of the criteria to be used in the evaluation.  If one is an adherent of the Tea Party faction, one suspects that “Fs” would be in order.  Likewise, if one is a Green Party progressive, disappointment might render a similar grade, although for very different reasons (probably “Ds”).  I see no point in scoring based on ideological expectations, however (or even on the basis of what I, personally, wanted in terms of policy outcomes).

Further, in evaluating a given president there are issues of comparison to other presidents to consider (it is inherent in the grading, even if it not always explicit in the reasoning) as well as the prevailing conditions under which a president governs (for while being the President of the United States America is always a difficult job, sometimes it is harder than others).

Ultimately I think that grading a presidency is a combination of the following:  relative comparisons to other presidents, the specific challenge of the day, and understanding a president on his own terms (i.e., what did he say he was going to do and did he accomplish it)?

Ok, keeping in mind that A=excellent, B=above average, C=average, D=below average and F=failing,I would assign the following grades in the following categories:

Communication:   C+

By this I mean his ability to effectively communicate with the public regarding his political/policy goals.  If we were just grading things like the Tucson speech, the grade would be higher.  In many ways this is an incomplete, as I think he is still learning how to do this.

Domestic Policy: B-

This is hard to grade.  On the one hand, Obama was able to pass his signature goal, health care reform,   yet on the other, the economy remains hobbled and the unemployment rate hover just under 10%.   On yet another hand [this must be a mutant grader!---Ed.], we have avoided a second Great Depression and the Great Recession appears to have avoided a double dip.  On those later point, the issue is did the stimulus and various bailouts accomplish that feat?  (And some credit along those lines  also belongs to Bush, Paulson, Bernanke and company).

Foreign Policy:  C-

On balance, the Obama foreign policy has been the same as the Bush second term foreign policy.  I see no radical difference on Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, the War on Terror (or whatever we are calling it these days) or a host of other issues.  In general, US global relations are stable.  He loses points for not being especially different than his predecessor despite campaigning on change in this realm.

Legislative Success: A

Regardless of what thinks of the actual legislation in question, it is impossible to look at the legislation passed that Obama wanted passed and not give the man high marks:  the stimulus package, financial regulatory reform, the PPACA and the tax cut deal.  Anyone who has any kind of historical perspective regarding legislation has to score this one with high marks.

Update: It occurs to me that the DADT repeal needs to be in here as well, which will have long-term historical significance along with the ratification of New START.

Practical Politics: B/B-

This is linked to the communication issue above, but also to the legislative success.  On the one hand, there has been a lot of learning (as one might suspect) for a first term president, especially one with a short political resume to begin with.  However, while at times his political communication has faltered, the bottom line is that he has achieved a lot that he set out to achieve.  Further, the tax deal with the GOP showed that he can be pragmatic (and use that pragmatism to political gain).

I will leave it at that, and let my colleagues join in as they see fit.

James Joyner:

Communication:   C-

Obama is a first rate orator, on par with Reagan and Clinton — the two best American presidents in this area in my lifetime.   But, unlike those two, he’s not good at messaging and frequently hurts himself by sending mixed signals.

For example, on Afghanistan, he’s managed to simultaneously double down on the mission and undermine confidence in America’s commitment to it.  He spent months hemming and hawing about the surge and then undercut it with a July 2011 deadline.

Similarly, by not taking control early on the health care bill, a rather major achievement (albeit not in a direction I preferred) was received as a failure.

Domestic Policy: C

He’s gotten a lot done:  Healthcare reform, the stimulus, gays in the military, and other milestones.   But he did not lead well publicly on any of them, letting others carry the water.

The economy remains a disaster — indeed, it’s much worse than he warned it would be if we didn’t pass his stimulus package!  I don’t actually think this is his fault — it’s a global meltdown — but it’ll be how voters judge.

Foreign Policy:  C-

I’m in essential agreement with Steven on all fronts.  I’ll put up a longish post on this topic and link it here later this afternoon.  [As promised:  Obama's Mid-Term Report Card, foreign policy edition.]

Legislative Success: A-

Again, I basically agree with Steven.  I ding Obama, though, for failure to take charge early.  He succeeded by muddling through but presidents don’t get much credit for that.

Practical Politics: B

Ultimately, he’s done as well as can be expected.  He’s broken many of his campaign promises and quietly de-emphasized previous major goals upon seeing that the view looked different from the Oval Office than the campaign trail.  That doesn’t win him any points from either flank but it’s a shrewd way to govern.

Alex Knapp:

Communication:   B

I personally, largely agree with James and Steven. But I think that’s an inside baseball perspective. If Obama were really as bad as I think he’s been, he wouldn’t have an approval of over 50% at a time when the economy is still really, really terrible. So I’m thinking his communication skills must be stronger than I give him credit for. Which makes sense – folks like me who live and breathe politics are, thankfully, a fraction of a percentage of the population.

Domestic Policy: C

The good: Lily Ledbetter Pay Act, DADT, Financial Reform, most of the ACA, though I think it could have been much better if it weren’t such a conservative package.

The bad: kowtowing to Wall Street, the deficit increasing tax package “compromise” with Republicans, which resulted in a MORE expensive bill than either party was asking for, the stimulus package that was too long on tax cuts, too small on real and effective spending. Also, continuing the stupid Bush policy of having the Justice Department pursue “counterterrorism” by conducting elaborate sting operations against comically inept people who would pose no threat if left to themselves is another black mark against him.

Foreign Policy:  D+

Terrible in Iraq and Afghanistan, were he continues to fight wars with no defined objectives that we never should have started in the first place. Doubling down in Afghanistan, in particular was a mistake, though I’ll freely admit that’s in hindsight because I also thought it was a good idea in 2008. Despite “ending torture,” the CIA maintains its black sites in Bagram and elsewhere. The drone strikes into Pakistan are unconscionable, and he spent a considerable amount of capital into arranging “tough” sanctions on Iran that will go nowhere. Although in fairness, sanctions may forestall the even more insane policy of attacking Iran, so that might be a positive.

Legislative Success: A

Unlike James, I think it was a stroke of brilliance to let Congress lead the way on most of Obama’s signature legislation, all the while subtly manipulating them into doing what he wanted. The best way to manage egotists is to lead them to believe that they’re managing you. And you don’t get into Congress without a healthy dose of egotism.

Practical Politics: B+

Overall, Obama’s kept most of his promises, is actively working towards them, or got them as far as they could go in the current political climate. That ain’t bad.

Doug Mataconis:

Communication:   C-

Perhaps the most striking to me about the Obama Administration versus the Obama campaign for President has been the extent to which the same communications team that did such a great job during a hard-fought Primary and General Election campaign has done such a bad job since they’ve been in office. This was most in evidence during the health care debate, when the GOP and the conservative opposition was essentially able to take control of the talking points without much of a fight. Yes, the Administration ended up getting a health care package passed, but they lost the communications battle and ended up paying the price for that throughout the 2010 campaign season.

Part of the inevitable mid-term staff shuffle that has been going on since Rahm Emanuel left office appears to include a shake-up in the Communications Office. Robert Gibbs will be leaving, and the White House announced today that most political functions will be shifted out of the White House and into either the DNC or the Obama re-election campaign, which will be headquartered in Chicago.  Whether that solves the Administration’s communications problems remains to be seen.

Domestic Policy: C

With the exception of Card Check and Cap & Trade, virtually all of the major legislative agenda items that were part of the 2008 Obama campaign have been passed into law by Congress, albeit not always in the form (or manner) promised in 2008. As James notes above, though, Obama wasn’t much of a leader in getting any of his agenda items passed. Starting with the $700 Billion Omnibus Spending Bill that was passed in February 2009, the Obama White House had the habit of letting the Democratic leadership in Congress control the content and communication of everything from the Affordable Care Act (arguably the most significant piece of legislation of Obama’s Presidency even if he manages to win a second term). The result has been that the most important pieces of legislation of the past two years were associated with the unpopular Democratic Congress, rather than a relatively more popular Democratic President, and the President looked weak.

More importantly, though, the biggest domestic issue is the economy and the President’s economic policies have been less than helpful to say the very least. When Election Day 2012 comes, though, it will be the state of the economy that decides the President’s fate and, at the moment at least, it’s beginning to look like Barack Obama may turn out to be very lucky in that regard.

Foreign Policy:  D

I essentially agree with Steven here as well. I give the President a D here mostly because I think he is continuing to pursue a policy in Afghanistan that cannot work, and that he is not being honest with the American public about the fact that our strategy there isn’t working the way his advisers told him it would. We need to turn around and get out of there, soon, but with an election coming up in a year I doubt that’s going to happen.

Legislative Success: B+

As I noted above in the Domestic Policy section, Obama’s biggest problem has been the extent to which he ceded control of the legislative agenda early on to Congress, a decision he ought to great.

However, he did two things. First, he has gotten most of his legislative agenda through Congress. Second, during the lame duck session, he wisely (from a political point of view) compromised with Republicans over extension of the Bush tax cuts, thus allowing other items like the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and ratification of the START Treaty. Had that deal not been reached, the lame duck session would have likely been a waste of time.

Practical Politics: B

For the most part, President Obama has handled the practical politics of his position rather well. Evidence of that can be seen in the fact that he has manged to maintain relatively respectable job approval and favorable/unfavorable numbers even though polls show that the public disagreed with his position on policy issues. In fact, if the economy had been in better shape over the past two years, I would imagine that Barack Obama would be in  far better position than he is now.

As I wrote earlier today, there are signs that we may be witnessing a turnaround for Barack Obama, if that continues, it’s likely that the next two years are going to be far different from the past two for the White House.

Chris Lawrence:

I can’t say I disagree much with my colleagues, so my commentary will generally be brief.

Communication: B-

Obama is an effective communicator, in general, but sometimes he fails to make an effective case for his policies. How much of this is due to an often-muddled White House communications strategy, as opposed to Obama himself, is debatable. And, regardless, the public is no longer really buying his administration’s repeated attempts to pin all of Obama’s problems on his predecessor.

Domestic Policy: C-

Health care reform is generally the only “bright” spot on his record, and even that was arrived at by walking back campaign positions. While most of the individual elements poll as popular, the “if we pass it the public will like it” strategy hasn’t really come to pass in reality.

The rest of Obama’s 2009-10 domestic policy agenda is effectively DOA with the Republican House takeover, and there isn’t much sign yet of a new one to replace it. With the economy overshadowing everything else, even Democrats will have difficulty supporting major new spending initiatives, leaving Obama to try to fiddle at the margins through the regulatory process.

Foreign Policy: C+

The best that can be said for the Obama foreign policy agenda is that it hasn’t been as disastrous as the Bush foreign policy agenda. Then again, the second-term Bush foreign policy agenda wasn’t either, since realistically the “military option” to solve any problem has been off the table since mid-2004. On the plus side, we have managed to avoid Clintonian adventures that might not have worked out; intervention in Ivory Coast and/or Darfur would have potentially been palatable to Congress had Iraq gone swimmingly or not at all. On trade, the Obama administration has presided over the massive failure of the Doha round, alienated allies by refusing to push through free trade agreements, and only reluctantly acceding to our NAFTA obligations after an unnecessary, union-inspired spat over Mexican trucking based on bogus arguments about the safety of American-manufactured trucks being operated by experienced Mexican drivers on American roads.

The only reason the grade is as high as it is: institutionally he is constrained to failure on many key foreign policy issues. Israel has no interest in solving the Palestinian conflict in the current environment (where the Palestinians are internally divided and the Arab world has seemingly diminished its interest in their cause); Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons capabilities are going to come about regardless of American efforts to the contrary due to European, Russian, and Chinese sanctions-busting (and, regardless, are probably not the existential threats to American safety some make them out to be; if anything, the sanctions-busters are far more vulnerable than the United States to rogue Iranian and NorK behavior); and the administration is inclined to simply repeat the cycle of failure in Latin American policy due to nativist sentiment from both parties’ congressional caucuses and the public at large.

Legislative Success: B+ (but falling)

It’s hard to give presidents much credit or blame on this score; regardless, the sheep-herding in Congress went well when he had a working majority, and I’d expect it will go rather less well now. This is an element of the grade that seems likely to be a poor prediction of his 2013 or 2017 final grade, so I would discount it accordingly.

Practical Politics: B-

Much to the chagrin of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, the Obama administration thus far has been more Clintonian (or Bush43ian, particularly on foreign policy) than Carterian (or Reaganite). As James suggests, “muddling through” is about as well as can be expected given the economic downturn, a hostile foreign policy environment, and a decidedly conservative public policy mood swing since Obama took office. His use of regulatory policy so far has been relatively shrewd, particularly for a president without any prior executive branch experience to speak of; that prowess will be challenged over the course of the next two years, and likely will determine whether his final grade is a B or a C.

Dave Schuler:

I don’t actually have a great deal to add beyond the points that my colleagues have made.

Communication: B-

If it weren’t for the occasional excellent speech, e.g. Tucson, he’d be drifting lower. Too frequently, he’s lecturing rather than addressing.

Domestic Policy: D

There is only one domestic policy issue: the economy. If unemployment remains high and we’re in an L-shaped, Japan-style recovery, D is being generous.

Foreign Policy: D+

In my view expanding the war in Afghanistan has been an error. Given that he has squandered the last two years in terms of trade agreements and that otherwise, as has been mentioned above, his foreign policy has closely resembled that of President Bush’s second term, I can’t even award a C.

Legislative Success: A

Passage of major healthcare reform, a goal that has eluded Democratic presidents for the last 30 years, assures President Obama an A in this area.

Practical Politics: C

In terms of practical politics President Obama is about where most presidents are at this point in their first terms. However, there are storm clouds on the horizon. His political opponents don’t like him a bit more than they did when he was elected, he’s in danger of losing independents, and he’s alienated portions of his base.

In summary, I think that President Obama deserves what we used to call a “gentleman’s C”.

Robert Prather:

I, too, have little to add, but here’s my two cents:

Communication: C

His oratorical skills are second to none, but his messaging has been poor. Political communication requires bullet points that can fit on a postcard. He prevaricates so much its almost like he’s thinking out loud.

Domestic Policy: B+

He learned one of the primary lessons of the failure of HillaryCare and didn’t try to do it himself and ram it down Congress’s throat. He gave them a blueprint and negotiated with them and it was a success. The stimulus was too small, by around $400 billion and contained way too many tax cuts, but it still likely allowed us to avoid a second Great Depression.

Foreign Policy: B

In spite of his campaign rhetoric, he was never going to be able to hit the reset button. He inherited two wars, only one of which should never have been started, and he has essentially stuck to Bush’s second term as a model, as Steven says elsewhere. Realistically, it’s about the best that can be expected.

Legislative Success: B

Health care and stimulus alone merit an A. However, he did, and didn’t do more. Gays in the military was a success, the renewal of all of the Bush tax cuts was not. Not that he had any choice, but it ranks as a failure with me.

Practical Politics: C+

If practical politics took into account his strategy for passing Obamacare, he would merit a higher grade. However, it doesn’t and he has missed some opportunities by not maintaining a consistent message. It’s hard to know how he makes decisions because he doesn’t have any guiding principles; for better or worse, we knew where Bush 43 and Reagan stood. Not so much with this president. If he had Clinton’s skills with messaging, even though Clinton didn’t have firm principles that I’m aware of, his score would be higher here.

As far as I know, the primary determinant of his winning reelection will be the state of the economy (or at least the people’s views on it). I’m hoping for a good economy and that he does win reelection. Yes, I’ve moved to the left in recent years.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    On Practical Politics I would give him a D or a C — he pre-compromises, leaving the final result much weaker than it could be.

    We saw this with the Stimulus, Health Insurance Reform and less so on the recent Tax Deal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. LaurenceB says:

    Re: Foreign Policy

    Wouldn’t Obama have had to start two wars to consistently follow Bush’s template?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. @LaurenceB:

    Like I said, Bush second term. ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. ponce says:

    Foreign Policy: C?

    On thev ery day Obama hands the keys to the planet over to our new Chinese Overlords?

    Foreign Policy realism: A+

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. When grading, are we going by intentions or results? Sort of a classic problem when it comes to politics.

    Considering Obamacare is unlikely to last, is that really a legislative success? Had Obama and the congressional leadership been just a little less ambitious, they could have gotten a lot of Obamacare through with a little more bipartisanship instead of a “We Won” winner take all approach. I certainly wouldn’t have liked it, but this isn’t about what I want. I think they believed a little too much in the “what’s mine is mine and what’s your’s remains negotiable” that has worked so well for them in the past thinking that once the legislation was passed it could never be rescinded. If nothing else, the Tea Party has decided to no longer play be the rules of that fixed game. In fact, wouldn’t the emergence of the Tea Party and his legislative agenda leading to historic losses in the midterm election have to count against Obama somehow?

    All things considered, with a 60 vote majority in the Senate and firm control of the House, I’m surprised they didn’t get more done, though the blame for that probably lies more with Pelosi and Reid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Considering Obamacare is unlikely to last, is that really a legislative success?

    Ok, I’ll bite: upon what do you base that assertion?

    All things considered, with a 60 vote majority in the Senate and firm control of the House, I’m surprised they didn’t get more done, though the blame for that probably lies more with Pelosi and Reid.

    Ultimately, it was 59 votes when the final push came.

    However, even forgetting that, I think that you really do not fully appreciate how difficult that it is to pass major legislation of this nature.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. ponce says:

    “Considering the courts are going to strike down the mandate?”

    The mandate is for the benefit of insurance companies, who otherwise would be forced to insure people who wait until they get sick to by insurance.

    It’s odd that the wingnuts are excited to strike down this sop to big business.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Alex Knapp says:

    Charles,

    Considering Obamacare is unlikely to last

    I don’t see it going anywhere.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. I have written about the odds that the Supreme Court will actually strike down the mandate:

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/why-the-supreme-court-is-likely-to-uphold-obamacares-individual-mandate/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. EJ says:

    ponce,

    “It’s odd that the wingnuts are excited to strike down this sop to big business.”

    Learn the difference between being pro-free market and pro-business.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. EJ says:

    Alex,

    I don’t think its dissapearing but oneway or another the current set of changes will have to be changed again.The healthcare systme is unsustauinable as it is even before this law. And the new law’s fiscal math relies on unrealistic doctor reimbusments cuts and AMT style non-inflation adjusted tax increases.

    Whether it be from the right ro the left, the current healthcare regime is going to have to change sometime post 2012. If it doesnt we will be in a debt crisis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. EJ says:

    and ponce… we are toning down the rhetoric now… remember?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. We’ll see.

    1. There are portions of this that are going to require additional funding to get started, good luck with that given the Republican control of the House.
    2. Last time I looked a majority of states were now filing suit against provisions of Obamacare. Where there’s this much smoke ther’s probably some fire.
    3. A majority of the public doesn’t like Obamacre, doesn’t want Obamacare, and wants to see it repealed, even after two years of propoganda.
    4. The vote on repealing Obamacare received more votes in the House than Obamacare did when it was passed.
    5. With friends like Sheila Jackson Lee, I’d be very worried if I was a supporter of Obamacare.
    6. If the Democrats lose the Senate and presidency in 2012, I’d say the odds of it still being law on February 1, 2013 are pretty slim.

    None alone are dispositive, but they do add up to a lot of uncertainty and give many of us hope that this abomination will cease.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Dr. Taylor, as for my not appreciating how hard it is to pass 2,000 page legislation that very few people have, or even can read and understand, well, perhaps. On the other hand, I think that’s a feature of our system of government, not a bug.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. @Charles:

    1. There are portions of this that are going to require additional funding to get started, good luck with that given the Republican control of the House.

    A fair point, but perhaps less straightforward than you may think.

    2. Last time I looked a majority of states were now filing suit against provisions of Obamacare. Where there’s this much smoke ther’s probably some fire.

    I am not sure if it is actually a majority. Regardless, it is going to come to down to SCOTUS, and most observers of the Court seems to think it unlikely that they will overturn it, although, granted, we shall see,

    More importantly, the part that is being challenged is the individual mandate, which is not that whole of the PPACA. In other words, it is a mistake to assume that a loss in court equals the overturning of the entire package.

    3. A majority of the public doesn’t like Obamacre, doesn’t want Obamacare, and wants to see it repealed, even after two years of propoganda.

    This is simply not true. On the basic repeal/not repeal issue the numbers about both under 50% and are otherwise fairly evenly split. Beyond that, when individual item are polled, the public actually likes a lot of the package.

    4. The vote on repealing Obamacare received more votes in the House than Obamacare did when it was passed.

    This is trivia. It doesn’t mean anything one way or another.

    Further, the repeal vote is safe as every single one of those who voted for repeal knew that the bill will die in the Senate. If this was a real repeal vote the political calculations would likely be different. The stakes would simply be different.

    5. With friends like Sheila Jackson Lee, I’d be very worried if I was a supporter of Obamacare.

    Be that as it may, this is irrelevant.

    6. If the Democrats lose the Senate and presidency in 2012, I’d say the odds of it still being law on February 1, 2013 are pretty slim.

    So you are assuming that starting in the next Congress that the filibuster and other minority-favoring rules are going to be abolished?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Dr. Taylor, as for my not appreciating how hard it is to pass 2,000 page legislation that very few people have, or even can read and understand, well, perhaps. On the other hand, I think that’s a feature of our system of government, not a bug.

    Be that as it may, the issue is not whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, the initial statement was dismissive of the difficulties to be associated with major reform efforts.

    Indeed, for a variety of reasons it is quite difficult to pass major bills–but that was my point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. reid says:

    “A majority of the public doesn’t like Obamacre, doesn’t want Obamacare, and wants to see it repealed, even after two years of propoganda.”

    Yes, that’s a great example of propaganda. Death panels, scary 2,000-page bills that no one could read, exaggerating/spinning public opinion… whatever it takes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Dr. Taylor, it is 27 states as of this morning. Without the individual mandate the numbers just don’t work for Obamacare, not that they really work anyway, but that’s another story. Can’t see the Supreme Court trying to decide which parts of the 2000 page bill are unconstitutional and which aren’t. A lot easier to say start over.

    As a small business owner who has sat through several multi-hour presentations of this by qualified insurance representatives and lawyers, let me just say again in conclusion that Obamacare is an abomination whose primary goal is to lead to a single payer system. If that’s what they want I’d rather they be honest about it so we can have an honest debate about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. @Charles:

    Fair enough on the numbers.

    However (and it a big however):

    Can’t see the Supreme Court trying to decide which parts of the 2000 page bill are unconstitutional and which aren’t. A lot easier to say start over.

    That’s simply not how it works. A law suit has to contest a specific provision (or provisions) of a law to challenge their legality/constitutionality. You can’t just sue and say “this is one damn big bill that we don’t like, so could you please throw all of it out?” The bottom line is that there is an awful in the bill that is not controversial from a constitutional point of view. The main issue of consequence in the individual mandate, which I predict will be upheld as constitutional, but we have to see how it goes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. tom p says:

    I am surprised that all of you give Obama such a low grade on foreign policy. Each and every one of you (except for chris) base most of your evaluation on Iraq/Afghanistan, without ever acknowledging the fact that he was saddled with these wars on the day of inauguration and that dumping both these wars into the dustbin of history (where I have long argued they belong) would have cost hime BIG TIME in the “practical politics” evaluation.

    For the record, the world extends beyond the middle east and south Asia and he was saddled with those 2 before he got there (3 if you count Israel/Palestine) … so base your grade on what he could actually accomplished in any of those situations as well as what he could do in THE REST OF THE WORLD.

    JJ, haven’t yet clicked thru to your more in depth review…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. tom p says:

    Civil rights… Steve, you missed that catagory and it is one area where the pre-election rhetoric and post-election reality are wildly divergent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Steve Plunk says:

    The grading is highly subjective based upon a person political beliefs. Even his victories can be considered failures by those who disagree. Grading is a pointless exercise until we see results from all of his efforts. So far we have no results.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. @Steve,

    Well, as you may have noted above, I started off the exercise stating that in many ways that the only appropriate grade is an incomplete. Although there is a difference between evaluating a presidency and evaluating the efficacy of a given policy.

    And yes, there is clear subjectivity here, although not in the way you suggest.

    Indeed, if I were scoring solely on my political and policy preferences, the scores would be quite different. It is, in honesty, possible to evaluate politics apart from one’s personal political beliefs.

    I would further point out that of the three political scientists above (myself, Lawrence and Joyner) the grades are pretty close (and all three of us belong on the center-right of things, although not necessarily in the exact same place).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. I wish my poli sci professor had been as generous as Prof. Taylor. But there’s been a lot of grade inflation since 1980, I guess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. @Steve:

    It was always harder in the good ol’ days ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Einstein says:

    Hawaii’s new governor stated he would release Barry Soetoro’s birth certificate when he took office. Now he states he cannot find it, so he cannot release it. The reason is obvious of why it cannot be found, it never did exist in Hawaii. If he wishes to release Soetoro’s birth certificate he needs to contact the government of Kenya who has also sealed Soetoro’s birth certificate from release to the public. If he were not born in Kenya, why would Soetoro seal his records there?

    This treasonous clown must resign from office immediately and run as fast as he can to Kenya as he deserves to be tried for high treason here in the USA and we all know what the penalty is for the horrific crime Soetoro has committed. All in congress and government who helped in this criminal scam and cover-up should also face treason charges.

    We must demand that justice be done and the guilty pay the maximum penalty for their crimes. Those in the new congress that want to continue the cover-up should also be arrested for treason. A congressional investigation must be convened immediately and Soetoro (Obama) must release his hidden records which will prove his crimes. The People of the United States do have standing in this case as we all are directly affected by this scumbag’s criminal activity and unconstitutional actions/legislation.

    IT IS TIME TO TAKE OUR NATION BACK FROM THE CRIMINAL INTERNATIONAL BANKING MAFIA NOW! WE DON’T HAVE ANY MORE TIME TO WASTE. THE NOOSE IS AROUND OUR NECKS AND THE CRIMINALS IN OUR GOVERNMENT ARE ABOUT TO KICK THE CHAIR OUT FROM UNDER US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Gustopher says:

    So, Einstein, that would be an F all around then?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. [...] in our group post assigning President Obama’s midterm grades is a link to my New Atlanticist post “Obama’s Mid-Term Report Card,” which [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Einstein says:

    Anybody that is thinking Barry Soetoro (Obama) will run again for POTUS has a few screws loose.

    The new Hawaii governor stated he would release Barry’s birth certificate and settle the matter once and for all. Problem is that there are no birth records in Hawaii for Barry, he should have asked Barry in private as this clown thought Soetoro was telling the truth about his place of birth. There is a reason for his Kenyan records to be sealed and that is because the real birth certificate is in Kenya where he was born.

    I can’t wait for this to develop and they arrest Barry for high treason. All legislation this clown has signed will be void, no reason to mess with repealing the draconian legislation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. An Interested Party says:

    “Had Obama and the congressional leadership been just a little less ambitious, they could have gotten a lot of Obamacare through with a little more bipartisanship instead of a “We Won” winner take all approach.”

    Oh please…compromise was made when the public option was dropped…the GOP really did dig in their heals…who was going to compromise? “RINO”s perhaps, who are already held in contempt by most conservatives…

    “All things considered, with a 60 vote majority in the Senate and firm control of the House, I’m surprised they didn’t get more done, though the blame for that probably lies more with Pelosi and Reid.”

    Yes, of course, it is all the fault of Pelosi and Reid that the filibuster and senators like Nelson of Nebraska exist…hmm…Reid certainly could have done something to make Republicans actually work when it came to the filibuster, though…

    “If it doesnt we will be in a debt crisis.”

    Aren’t we already?

    “…whose primary goal is to lead to a single payer system.”

    Oh my God! The horror! The horror!

    “That’s simply not how it works.”

    Well, I guess a conservative small business owner just doesn’t know any better…

    The president is lucky to have people like Einstein above talk about what the little voices in their head tell them, as it gives him extra credit that he can apply to his grades…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. [...] of this term and his midterm grades are coming in. Whether the graders live inside the beltway or outside of it, Obama doesn’t make the Dean’s List. That’s not surprising. With one exception, no president [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. INTJ says:

    I’m going to disagree somewhat, and suggest that President Obama could have received from the Tea Party the grade reserved for Peppermint Patty: Z minus.

    Overall GPA: 1.0

    Communication: F
    He has shown no ability to navigate off the TelePrompter, failed miserably to persuade people to his causes (we are, for example, still waiting for him to “sell” Obamacare to the public) – and in fact drove them to embrace Republicans, who just 2 years ago were thought to be extinct, and are no better loved now – and repeatedly inserted himself into issues which were none of his business, where he was patently wrong, and where he insulted many Americans. For someone for whom this was supposed to be a towering strength, he has shown astounding weakness. Epic fail.

    Domestic Policy: F
    The focus on pork-barrel “stimulus” and Health Care Reform, when the biggest concerns were, and remain, jobs, the economy, and runaway spending, has left us broke, and unable, 2 years later, to address those issues. And in spite of his supporters’ primary desires, things like the Patriot Act programs and Gitmo are still intact.

    Foreign Policy: D+
    The only thing Obama has accomplished is repeatedly ticking off our strongest allies, abasing us before our most virulent enemies, and getting an arms treaty that has no practical impact on the other party, but restricts America’s own arsenal. His biggest successes were in not changing Bush-era policies.

    Legislative Success: A-
    Like it or not, Obama gets credit because he got most of what he wanted. He missed getting a cap-and-trade scheme implemented, but seems bent on pursuing that by other means.

    Practical Politics: F
    Obama succeeded in demoralizing his base, energizing his opposition, and polarizing the country, in spite of expectations that he would do just the opposite. His signature achievement may be repealed, and/or declared unconstitutional, by 2013. His second biggest achievement, the economic stimulus, was an utter failure by his own standards, and therefore has been branded a waste of around $800 billion. He is responsible for a turnaround in Congress that saw his party lose 62 House seats (and control), and 6 Senate seats. Now he has gridlock built in, with the result that 5 years from now, nothing he did except the START treaty may stand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. matt says:

    I can’t wait for republican president if for no other reason then to stop the stupid teleprompter talking point (it’s okay that republicans do it!!)…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Matt, I think you miss the point about the teleprompter. It isn’t that others don’t use it, bu that when Obama doesn’t have it he seems about as lucid as Joe Biden on a bad day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. matt says:

    I’ve seen Obama in person without a teleprompter and he was incredibly articulate. Hell did you miss the whole republican dinner thing he did? Are you going to seriously claim he was using a teleprompter then? There’s lots of things you can criticize Obama for but the teleprompter thing is plain stupid…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Einstein says:

    Yes, Barry gets straight F’s. Somebody mentioned how articulate Soetoro was without a teleprompter. I don’t know what that guy is smoking but I sure don’t want anything that turns that turns your brain into mush. Every time I have seen Soetoro without a teleprompter he is sputtering and stuttering. He is hopeless although he has been to about 59 states with one left to go. I don’t know anybody that has been to that many states, including all other presidents.

    Soetoro is 100% fraud, including his name and stolen social security number. The clown needs to be in prison awaiting a trial for hundreds of charges of high treason and murder. I suspect with a subpoena from congress demanding he release his hidden records, this will certainly happen as Soetoro is actually an illegal alien from Indonesia and that boys and girls is a fact!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. An Interested Party says:

    The president can only hope to have the kind of opposition that has been on display in this thread…if he does, he’ll easily win reelection…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. matt, no I missed the Republican dinner as something more important came up, perhaps needing to cut my fingernails or something. I have on many occassions seen The Won look as unsophisticated as George W. Bush once he is unscripted. But YMMV.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. matt says:

    Well enjoy your limited existence then :P

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. matt says:

    Personally I always thought Bush would probably be someone to that would be fun to hang out with and play some xbox with. The pressures of being president compounded with being on stage nearly daily surely would cause me to make Joe Biden look tame in comparison..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. An Interested Party says:

    “matt, no I missed the Republican dinner as something more important came up, perhaps needing to cut my fingernails or something.”

    Translation: I will ignore anything that doesn’t confirm my own biases…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. matt says:

    AIP : That’s how I translated it too…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. wingmann says:

    “Anyone who has any kind of historical perspective regarding legislation has to score this one with high marks”.

    Quanity does not mean quality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. “Quanity does not mean quality.”

    And yet, not the point (as I noted in more than one way above).

    Simple in terms of legislative success one has to acknowledge when a given president is able to campaign on, and pass, substantial parts of his legislative agenda, especially if they are bills that have historic ramifications.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. wingmann says:

    Yes Steve,if you grade on VOLUME….he gets an a+.
    Your point is understood.
    What grade would you give him and his administration on the quality of ALL that legislation.

    Let me assist you……..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. wingmann says:

    Steve,even the GREAT LIBERAL state of detroit knows what grade to give our teleprompter reading biological android …..FAIL!

    http://apps.detnews.com/apps/forums/newstalk/lettersindex.php?topic=Obama_at_midpoint

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  47. wingmann says:

    “city”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0