Obama has done nothing. Of course it has not yet been a year, but he has no accomplishments to point to except some arguments about how job loss would have been worse without his stimulus package (a package that included financial industry bailouts that began with the Bush administration).
The truth is, we don't know what Obama has accomplished. Or, rather, won't for some time. And simply judging from my own experience of life, I am actually assured by his apparent lack of progress. For now.
I've been blogging less and reading others' blogs less. The reason for this is simply that I've been diverting my writing energy into a bigger project. For now, it would seem obvious that I'm doing less. I'm not. But what I'm doing is higher risk. No one else may ever see it and it may amount to nothing.
I don't fool myself about my blog postings having any impact, but it is gratifying to hit the "publish post" button and have "done" something. I quite like that. The posts may have little or no consequence but my accomplishments seems obvious.
By contrast, the writing project I've been working on is far less likely to be published and even if it does, it is unlikely to have much more impact than my posts. I am doing something - more, even, then when I was at my peak of blogging. But there is little to report. I'm just working on the project. And will be for months - maybe a year. It doesn't sound very exciting but completing this project will be more exciting than anything I've done in the last decade or two. And it has the potential to have much more impact than the hundred-some posts I could publish in the same time. It will, in any event, be more consequential than a string of unrelated posts. For reasons like this, I believe that invisible progress is often the best progress.
So let's return to our president. He could do things to keep the 24-hour news channels happy, the equivalent of presidential blogging. Lots of little publicity opportunities, legislative initiatives and the like that generate news but probably won't change history.
Or he could take a big risk and put himself into a project like health care reform. He may not get legislation passed. Or it may be bad legislation. This is very high risk. But IF he succeeds, when history is written this will be an accomplishment as big as or bigger than that of any president in decades.
I have found that there is a negative correlation between how much I'm doing in any given week and what I can report at the end of the year. The projects that are worth talking about are few and take a long time. By contrast, if I "stay busy" I seem to inevitably wonder what it was I did later. Things that can be done quickly are generally disposable.
In a similar way, Obama's project is something that will look better at the end of his term than it does on any given news cycle. He's trying to do something big. To judge what he's done now is like a father grousing about how his son - in his second year at university - sure hasn't made as much money as the neighbor's kid who went right into landscaping. You've already given the man four years. Let him use it.