Monday, January 4, 2010

Our Views: Obama’s first year in office

When he occupied the Oval Office, President George W. Bush was fond of saying that political capital was useless if a leader didn’t spend it on something.

Bush’s father, George Herbert Walker Bush, had tried to safeguard his political popularity when he was president, but eventually was turned out by voters who regarded him as too cautious. That cautionary lesson apparently wasn’t lost on the younger Bush.

President Barack Obama, so unlike George W. Bush in so many ways, does seem to share his immediate predecessor’s view that political capital must be spent to advance a presidency.

Regardless of how one views Obama, no one can reasonably accuse the sitting president of chronic caution. Obama has spent his first year pushing a controversial overhaul of the nation’s health-care system, and he’s rolling the dice on an ambitious new strategy in the war in Afghanistan.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Obama’s poll numbers have declined as his policies have come under fire. That will mean an interesting new year for a president who, in his first year of office, has shown himself to be something of a gambler.

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