The Obama Presidency: Assessing Year One

Political Science faculty consider the accomplishments of the Obama administration one year after a history-making election.
November 29, 2009

Regardless of their positions on the political spectrum, Obama observers can probably agree on one thing: this is not an easy time to hold the office of President. To mark the anniversary of Obama’s election, members of the Political Science Department took part, on November 11, 2009, in a lively discussion of the administration’s performance. The panelists considered various perspectives in their attempt to define Obama’s style and to assess how effectively, in a metaphor offered by Professor John DiIulio, he has played his hand, given the cards he’s been dealt.

This audio presentation features the panelists’ introductory remarks, focused on individual areas of expertise, followed by their answers to a selection of audience questions.


The Policymaking Process
John DiIulio, Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion and Civil Society and Director of the Fox Leadership Program, was the first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, now called the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Among his most recent publications are Godly Republic: A Centrist Blueprint for America’s Faith-Based Future and the article “Mayberry Machiavellis After All? Why Judging George W. Bush Is Never as Easy as It Seems,” appearing in Judging Bush (Robert Maranto et al., eds.).

Listen to John DiIulio's comments on the questions below.

Race and Presidential Politics
Daniel Gillion, Assistant Professor of Political Science, focuses on racial and ethnic politics, political behavior, public opinion and the American presidency. He is the recipient of the 2009 Sammy Younge Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists for his research on minorities’ political protest behavior.

Listen to Daniel Gillion's comments on the questions below.

Obama and Congress
John Lapinski, Associate Professor of Political Science, examines lawmaking in Congress, congressional and presidential campaigns, and elections as well as American political development. He is also an analyst in the Elections Unit at NBC News.

Listen to John Lapinski's comments on the questions below.

Foreign Policy
Alex Weisiger, Assistant Professor of Political Science, studies international politics and political decisions relating to the use of force. His research considers sources of variation in duration and severity in interstate wars; the phenomenon of regional systems of war; variables for democratic peace; and the implications of psychological biases in explaining war.

Listen to Alex Weisiger's comments on the questions below.



  • Has Obama’s presidency eroded support for policies aimed at tackling African-American disadvantage by creating an impression that we are in a post-racial society?
  • What is the impact of Obama’s selection to receive the Nobel Peace Price on his presidency?
  • The criticism of Obama from the far right has been particularly intense. What effect does this have on his policies and popularity?
  • Has Obama’s commitment to bipartisanship been misguided?
  • How would you characterize the decision-making processes within the Obama administration?


Moderated by Eileen Doherty-Sil, Undergraduate Coordinator of the Department of Political Science