Bernstein seconds me:
[T]his has been, so far, a very productive Congress. Note that he's now rated by Politifact as having fulfilled over a fifth of his campaign promises (and about a third if compromises, such as state instead of national insurance exchanges, are included), for what it's worth. That's without the big items still out there: banking (fairly likely), climate (still unlikely, but not impossible), and immigration (I'd be shocked)...am I missing any? And it's also without all the small things that will happen. Of course, that alone doesn't make Barack Obama a successful president, whatever that means. But those who are focused only on what hasn't happened, or what has been compromised, are missing the big picture here.
Here we are a year and a half in and what do we see?
An end to illegal torture of terror suspects. A beginning to a saner method of detaining, trying and convicting terror suspects.
Adept handling of the worst financial crisis and recession since the 1930s, leading to a profitable bank bailout (excluding Freddie and Fannie) and a return to growth. Check.
Salvaging of the automobile industry, which is now showing signs of life.
Passage of an ambitious stimulus package that has helped repair many crumbling parts of the US infrastructure and poured money into green industry.
The biggest social policy reform since LBJ - guaranteeing access to health insurance for all Americans.
Financial re-regulation of an out-of-control Wall Street, and the beginnings of real scrutiny (see Goldman) of the self-serving corruption at the heart of the financial industry.
Repaired relations with Russia, leading to a new START treaty, and better relations with China, leading to a revaluation of the yuan.
Joint Chiefs' endorsement of ending Don't Ask Don't Tell.
A tough re-balancing of the US position in the Middle East, away from the Likudnik-oriented jerking knees of the last eight years, and an assertion that US foreign policy should be conducted to advance the interests of the United States, not the interests of a belligerent faction in a foreign country.
My view is that Obama should aim for immigration reform next. Why? We need it. And it will force the GOP into an even whiter, nastier, angrier posture as they fight for the midterms. The long-term damage to the GOP among Hispanics will cement Democratic electoral dominance for quite a while.
Change we can believe in? How much more could you possibly have asked for in eighteen months?
This is a dramatically effective administration.