The Promise: President Obama, Year One

The Promise: President Obama, Year One - Jonathan Alter If you want a concise presentation of President Obama's failures and successes in his Administration's first 18 months, start this book at the Epilogue. In very few pages, you will have a roster of accomplishments that are in many places historic, all far-reaching, and most all completely unheard of by the average voter. This is the story of Obama's presidency so far: that his drive for measurable steps forward -- from the elimination of "middle-man" vendors for student loans that in turn helped to fund the health care bill, to unprecedented increases in education standards and teacher rewards, to the most thorough Administrative analysis of military policy since the Cuban Missie Crisis, to gaining concessions by China to publicly record its goals for pollution reductions -- occludes the need to score political cheap shots and short-term gains against an unmistakably aggressive, even obstructionist opposition party. Each chapter in The Promise details, sometimes painfully so, one of the major initiatives shaped or confronted by the Obama Administration, and while there are enormous frustrations to be had in Obama's missteps, throughout the course of the book an appreciation builds for not only the gargantuan tasks faced by any politician during the economic recession of 2008-2010, but for the remarkable capability of this current officeholder in taking a hands-on approach to each of the challenges. There is no doubt that, however long it lasts, Obama's presidency will be historic. What is regrettable is how little we realize that each of Obama's lesser known gestures toward reshaping the presidency and regaining economic stability for the United States have affected our long-term growth. You come away feeling that the perhaps prematurely awarded Noble Prize will be less remembered for peace and better thought of as a reward for the economic policies and initiatives taken by Obama that not only saved the Union for the short-term, but probably extended its life. This is a genuinely remarkable presidency, whether or not people are willing to recognize it.