After One Year in Office, President's Agenda at Risk?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

U.S President Barack Obama attends a rally for U.S. Senate democratic nominee Martha Coakley at Northeastern University in Boston. (Getty)

President Obama completes his first year in office today, and the excitement and euphoria that characterized his inauguration has turned to skepticism and doubt about his agenda.

The startling loss of Democrat Martha Coakley to Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts' Senate election poses a threat to Obama's legislative agenda; the Democrats had barely managed to hold their 60-vote caucus together in the face of steadfast Republican opposition even before this election. Emily Rooney, host of WGBH's 'Greater Boston,' joins us with her take on the results. And we're also joined by Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, to talk about how this election may affect the next three years of President Obama's term.


Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Emily Rooney

Comments [9]


The Republicans always act like gum stuck on your shoe, while Democrats are like cockroaches when the lights come on, Independents are forced to ping pong back and forth between two bad choices. Democrats who act sleezily like Ben Nelson embarrass their party. Maybe in electing Scott Brown independents are trying to revive the moderate politician, whose views really are more reflective of their constituency. Why should a MA politician worry about passing National Health Care? They have a working state plan and subsidizing states like Nebraska is not in their state's (taxpayer's) interest.

Jan. 21 2010 09:44 AM
Steve L from Michigan

A fantastic victory for America, & so apt that this revolutionary act happened in Boston.

Heartening to see the spirit of independence still alive there. An inspiration for patriots across the country.

Jan. 20 2010 11:38 AM

The Dems would not need a super-majority for legislation if the other half of the Congress was not willing to sit on their hands and criticize and cripple the efforts of everyone who is trying to solve and reform the problems facing our nation. Why is it a celebration when a party cripples the the Pres. of the U.S.?

Jan. 20 2010 10:07 AM
Susan L from Marlborough, MA

I don't believe that the Mass. Senate election was an assessment of Pres. Obama's 1st yr. in office. (Who came up with that conclusion, anyway? The political pundits? Presidential historians? The Republican strategists?) Did anyone honestly think that the Pres. could singlehandedly reform the banking and the healthcare industries and end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in 12 months?

As for the Mass. Senate race, the outcome was a lesson in campaign strategy. Scott Brown was actively campaigning among those who would be voting at the polls. In contrast, after winning the Dem. primary, Martha Coakley was courting the favor of D.C. politicos as if she had already won the Senate race.

Jan. 20 2010 10:01 AM
Jonathan Backer

I am writing to protest Mr. Hockenberry’s remarkable assertion that the voters are fed up with the parliamentary maneuvering of Reid and Pelosi. The major parliamentary maneuver in the health care debate is the irresponsible Republican reliance on the filibuster. Please recall that the much more limited Democratic use of the filibuster under Bush was castigated by the Republicans, who threatened the nuclear option. The use of this parliamentary maneuver by current Republicans is the problem, not the Democratic response to it.

I am also protesting a long-standing NPR tradition of discussing news stories via the pairing of a Republican activist with an NPR correspondent. This tradition goes back to the pairing of Cokey Roberts and Kevin Phillips years ago. Why is a presumably objective news correspondent the appropriate counterweight for a Republican advocate?

Jan. 20 2010 09:43 AM
Paul Luksha from Canada

This is the response to the policies and protestations of the Obama administration which have been correctly identified and responded to by the electorate as the most Un-American in your country's history.
A Concerned Canadian Neighbour

Jan. 20 2010 08:38 AM
Ed from Larchmont, NY

It's just wonderful that on the anniversary of his taking office President Obama is given correction about his health care plans: we need health care reform, but it has to not pay for abortions and has to have conscience protections, just for starters. January 22 in Washington will be a party at the March.

Jan. 20 2010 08:27 AM
Jen M from NJ

I'm an independent voter from New Jersey. I don't think the voters in either New Jersey or Massachusetts were ultimately disillusioned with President Obama, but rather with their own state politics. That said, the 'Obama Effect' had such a great impact on the '08 elections that the GOP has been working very hard to make sure it retains and motivates the other half of voters who felt blind-sided by them, as it should. And as much as people may want to blame our leaders for election outcomes, complacency and misinformation always contribute greatly, too!

Jan. 20 2010 07:54 AM
pamela Butler from NYC

This morning is not the first morning I've had to turn off the "Take Away" for the way the commentary is going. I don't see that public radio is doing a service to the listeners by asking questions like,
"Is the Obama agenda dead after this? (the loss in Mass).
This is spin just like any other news media outlet.
Of course it's not dead, and why would you even say that. It's irresponsible and inflammatory.

Also, unless the meaning of blame has changed, Nature and natural events cannot really be blamed -- I associate blame with the idea of punishment. You get blamed for something, you have to own up and it's usually embarrassing because you've screwed up. You don't blame people for doing good things.
Can't the weather just be a "cause of" or "responsible for" instead of the right-wrong color of blame?

Jan. 20 2010 06:37 AM

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