Is Obama a Beacon of Hope or a Failure?

Why just one year in office is not enough time to solve all the world’s problems.

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s, many a dissident hung on every word he spoke. And when he had no solutions, they said, “He’s not telling us what we should do.” That wasn’t surprising for a people who had suffered centuries of spiritual bondage. But here in the West, such an attitude is more than just a little surprising. Yet, Obama has been in office for just a year and already the entire Western world is convinced he’s a failure.

But wasn’t it just a year ago that the entire Western world was saying that now everything would be different with Obama in the White House? And then right at the start of his term, they burdened him with the Nobel Peace Prize? One of my acquaintances remarked on the day the news came out of Stockholm that the prize really should be given to the American people who put him in power. That could be, but the prize and the burdens connected with it were bestowed on just that one man in the White House alone.

And now, one year after taking office, Obama’s presidency is being declared dead. He hasn’t accomplished anything, the economy hasn’t recovered as we had imagined it would, there’s no end in sight to the war on terror – but mainly, the world looks no better now than it did before Obama was sworn in.

People are asking, where are those sustainable solutions for the banking crisis and economic weakness? The answers to the dangers of terrorism? The solution to our mass depression? In historical terms, however, one year is little more than a second. George W. Bush and his friends had a whole eight years to maneuver the United States – and pretty much the entire world – into the precarious situation it currently suffers, but they expect Obama to get them out of it in just one year.

But he was the guy with the slogan, “Yes We Can!” That accusation is constantly thrown in his face. Never mind that he said “we” can and not “I” can. But there’s no longer any question of “we.” Barack Obama alone is being held responsible for the failures of the past year.

Admittedly, his rousing speeches aren’t always immediately followed up with corresponding deeds, but can an American president govern as a quasi-dictator? Of course not, as the opposition to long-overdue health care reforms prove. Perhaps he needs to show more diplomatic skill in order to achieve his goals. But if he does that, rest assured, it will also be thrown in his face as a weakness.

Obama’s problem lies in the expectations that were heaped upon him as soon as it became apparent he had a chance of being elected president of the United States. And his worst enemies may very well not be his political enemies but those who celebrated him as an almighty hero and are now disappointed to find out he’s just a man with reasonable views.

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