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Obama’s year in power: Healthcare was tough, but the future is tougher

Rupert Cornwall, The Independent
It’s been tough, and in the short term it’s probably going to get tougher still. That, in a nutshell, is the road ahead for Barack Obama as he embarks on the second year of what, 12 months ago, was the most eagerly anticipated American presidency in half a century.

The mood, a week before Mr Obama delivers his first State of the Union address to Congress next Wednesday, could scarcely be more different.

His Democratic Party faces losses in November’s midterm elections, and the only question is how large those losses will be. Whatever the result of yesterday’s special Senate election in Massachusetts, growing doubts surround his ambitious legislative agenda. Republican obstructionism on Capitol Hill is only likely to grow…
(20 Jan 2010)

A Year Later, Voters Send a Different Message

Adam Nagourney, The New York Times
Special elections come and go. And the party that wins the White House one year ordinarily loses seats in the next Congressional election that comes along.

But what happened in Massachusetts on Tuesday was no ordinary special election.

Scott Brown, a Republican state senator for only five years, shocked and arguably humiliated the White House and the Democratic Party establishment by defeating Martha Coakley in the race for a United States Senate seat. He did it one day short of a year after President Obama stood on the steps of the United States Capitol, looking across a mass of faces that celebrated the potential of his presidency.

As a result, Mr. Obama will spend the first anniversary of his inauguration watching Democrats tangle in an unseemly quarrel over who lost Massachusetts — Ms. Coakley’s pollster, Celinda Lake, called the Huffington Post four hours before the polls closed to blame Democratic leaders in Washington — and contemplating a political landscape that has been thoroughly upended in the course of only 10 days.

…“This is a giant wake-up call,” said Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman who lost a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in Virginia last year. “We have to keep our focus on job creation. Everything we have to do is related to job creation. We have to do a much better job on the message. People are confused on what this health care bill is going to do.”…
(19 Jan 2010)

A Very American Coup

William Astore, tomgram
The wars in distant lands were always going to come home, but not this way.

It’s September 2016, year 15 of America’s “Long War” against terror. As weary troops return to the homeland, a bitter reality assails them: despite their sacrifices, America is losing.

Iraq is increasingly hostile to remaining occupation forces. Afghanistan is a riddle that remains unsolved: its army and police forces are untrustworthy, its government corrupt, and its tribal leaders unsympathetic to the vagaries of U.S. intervention. Since the Obama surge of 2010, a trillion more dollars have been devoted to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and other countries in the vast shatter zone that is central Asia, without measurable returns; nothing, that is, except the prolongation of America’s Great Recession, now entering its tenth year without a sustained recovery in sight.

Disillusioned veterans are unable to find decent jobs in a crumbling economy. Scarred by the physical and psychological violence of war, fed up with the happy talk of duplicitous politicians who only speak of shared sacrifices, they begin to organize. Their motto: take America back.
(19 Jan 2010)