Experts: Obama presidency shouldn't be judged on first year

The Sacramento BeeJanuary 28, 2010 

Expectations were high. He took office after a landslide election spurred by economic woes, international turmoil and a discouraged nation's concern that the luster was off the American dream.

He was supposed to change the game, but his first year was largely a disappointment. Unemployment was rising, even while his approval score plummeted below 50 percent. There was talk he would be a one-term president.

Yet Ronald Reagan survived early difficulties to serve another seven years in the White House.

Experts on politics and the presidency have seen it before. They caution an American public plagued with a short memory and shorter attention span not to judge the Obama administration based solely on its opening year.

"Of all the modern presidents from Truman on, Obama and Reagan are closest in terms of public opinion ratings at the end of their first year," said Stanford University political science professor David Brady, deputy director of the Hoover Institution.

"Then Reagan cured stagflation. As the economy grew, Reagan came back," Brady said. "If the economy gets better, Obama will do better. If it doesn't, he won't."

The lesson? When it comes to how well presidents fare in office and in our memories, we could learn a lot from history.

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