Keith Harris

The one-year anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration recently passed. Shortly following that date was the president’s State of the Union address. As such, now is an appropriate time to assess the progress of our new president along with that of the nation as a whole. The unfortunate reality is that the president’s successes have done little to get America on the right track.

After eight years of suffering the leadership of George W. Bush, many Americans seem content in the knowledge that their current president can read at above a fourth grade level. Unfortunately, this contentedness has led to a devastating complacency, which has caused the American people to overlook what can only be described as the failure of Obama’s first year. To see evidence of this failure, one need only look to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, still in operation, and the bias ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, still in effect.

While campaigning, Obama vowed to resolve both of these problems shortly after taking office. Some contend that Obama’s failure to make good on either of those promises is due to the more pressing issues that demanded the president’s attention. That excuse might have been acceptable had Obama made any real progress in solving any of America’s major problems.

During his first year, much of Obama’s time was dominated by the debate on health care reform. Needless to say, little progress has been made. To be fair, Obama deserves little of the blame for this. It is simply hard to reconcile the idea of considering public welfare over corporate profit within our capitalist society.

Obama also discussed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in his address. In keeping with his campaign promises, Obama vowed once again to remove all combat troops from Iraq. What he seemingly forgot to mention is that even after the departure of the "combat troops," around 40-50,000 "non-combat troops" will remain. The distinction is that the former underwent aggressive operations while the latter will primarily be used to police the populace. Concerning Afghanistan, the president stated that by July 2011, troops might "begin to come home. " The potential for ambiguity in the president’s words hardly makes his statement contested. It is a safe assumption, however, that the arbitrary date will see little change in America’s relationship with Afghanistan and its civilian populace whose death toll continues to amass.

Perhaps the chief focus of the address was the economy. The president rightfully explained the financial turmoil America now faces is largely the result of Bush-era fiscal recklessness. Moreover, Obama was correct in stating that much of the loans given as part of the bank bailouts have been returned. The implication of this statement was that the recession has been turned around. The fact that Obama failed to mention was that little has changed in terms of policy following the bailouts. Financial institutions are still dangerously under regulated. In short, recent history is quite capable of repeating itself.

Little has changed since Obama’s inauguration. We continue to fight two unsinkable wars. Our financial system is hardly secure. Obama has done little beyond affixing a bandage to the wound left by Bush’s presidency. Nothing short of a total overhaul of policy will be enough to get America on the right track.