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What a Difference a Year Makes

November 4, 2009

Last night, HBO debuted the first ever behind-the-scenes Obama documentary, “By the People,” in a nod to the President’s one year anniversary since election. Usually disinterested in domestic politics, this blogger followed the 2008 presidential election as closely as someone who has only a high school understanding of caucuses and the electoral college can, which turns out, is pretty closely. But, in the year between that night and this, it has been easy to forget the feeling that this momentous election brought out in us. This documentary helped bring it all back.

Importantly, it both reminded me of events and facts which I had forgotten (such as the single tear that fell from the then Senator, not President’s eye when speaking of the death of his grandmother only one day before his election) and showed me the work that goes on in the background, surpassing the confusing but brightly colored graphics, endless pundit chatter, and general-BS of the mainstream cable news networks.

ByThePeople_poster

The documentary, which was both screened at offices across the country as well as featured in “viewing parties” in people’s private homes, serves as a reminder of that incomprehensibly, proud feeling felt by Obama supporters the night that he was named President Elect. But now, hopefully it will be able to serve as a hot knife, slicing through the rhetoric, in-fighting, and distrust that has grown out of Astroturf political movements, democratic division, and simple lies.

And if that doesn’t help, maybe a simple reminder of what’s on the President’s plate can be helpful. In the international arena, this administration might not be seeing many results yet, but let’s count the months he’s been in office – nearly 10. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which has been brewing, arguably, from anywhere from 50 to 1000 years, will not be solved in just one. Nonetheless, the amount of time and energy spent in the Middle East, including the President’s historic Cairo speech and numerous visits by Secretary Clinton and Special Envoy Mitchell, cannot be overlook.

This can only be matched by the new priorities put on the Asia-Pacific region, often rebuffed and even ignored by the last administration.  Speaking at the Foreign Press Center in Washington yesterday, acting senior official for APEC Kurt Tong indirectly agreed with the assertion that the Obama administration has realized the economic and political advantages of being involved in the region and will not make the same mistake of ignoring it as has been the trend in the past (Secretary Clinton even made an undeniable show of support for the region when she made it her first official foreign travel destination in February).

This is not even to mention the two wars, problems with the legitimacy of the new Afghan president and the question of additional troop deployment, new differences of opinion with the Japanese government, climate deals with East Asia and Europe, deflecting the charm offensive of the North Koreans, combating corruption, violence, and crimes against women in Africa, and helping to broker the Honduras situation with former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.

Compound this with domestic issues such as health care legislation, immigration reform, the economy/jobs, the ‘don’t-ask-don’t-tell’ policy, and clean energy technology, all while being attacked as a Nazi, a Muslim (which shouldn’t have a negative connotation anyway), a socialist (also okay in my book), and not-American – too liberal, too moderate, too slow, too fast, aren’t we past these issues? Perhaps we should look to Europe and the general popularity that Obama continues to enjoy there and takes a deep breath.

Just a year ago the nation was awash in the exitement of a new, young, vibrant president elect. What a difference a year makes. That man has not changed, but people have allowed themselves to become disillusioned with his message. Give the man at least until his second year in office and remember, he’s thinking long-term so maybe, just maybe, we can be a little more patient.

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