President Obama gets a lot of flak for how he’s performed over the years but, when you look back at the major issues he said he’d tackle in his 2009 inauguration speech, it’s clear that he’s a man of his word. New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait has the story:
On January 20, 2009, when Obama delivered his inaugural address as president, he outlined his coming domestic agenda in two sentences summarizing the challenges he identified: “Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.” Those were the four major areas of domestic reform: economic recovery measures, health-care reform, a response to climate change, and education reform. (To the justifiable dismay of immigration advocates, Obama did not call for immigration reform at the time, and immigration reform is now the only possible remaining area for significant domestic reform.) With the announcement of the largest piece of his environmental program last Monday, Obama has now accomplished major policy responses on all these things. There is enormous room left to debate whether Obama’s agenda in all these areas qualifies as good or bad, but “ineffectual” seems as though it should be ruled out at this point.
Certainly, when Obama unveiled his domestic ambitions, few thought to accuse him of setting the bar too low. In a speech before a joint session of Congress a month after his inauguration, which was the incoming president’s version of a State of the Union Address, Obama identified those same four priorities in more detail. This was about the time conservatives began to completely freak out; Charles Krauthammer, a voice of relative sobriety, called his speech “the boldest social democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president.” Read more.