From this New York magazine piece:
The conservative view of President Obama has straddled two difficult-to-reconcile portraits. One indicts him as a “Reagan of the left,” fundamentally (and, in their view, disastrously) altering the shape of the state. The other casts him as a hapless mediocrity, a Jimmy Carter redux. At the moment, the latter view is more in evidence — just in the last week, columns have appeared with headlines like “Is It Too Late for Obama to Rescue His Legacy?” and “The Failed Presidency of Barack Obama.”
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.
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