How Did We Get Here? A Timeline Of Significant Political Events

October 3, 2008: Congress passes the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. The economy was about to collapse.

November 5, 2008: America elects Barack Obama.

Jan 16, 2009: Before Obama's elected, Rush Limbaugh wishes the president bad luck and hopes he "fails."

Late January, 2009: Democrats rush a nearly $800 stimulus package through Congress. Republicans seize on several items they feel are unnecessary, like funding for abortions and funding to restore the national mall. The White House pledges that money will go to "shovel ready" projects, and brags about the bill's containing the largest tax cut in history.  But Republicans succeed in firing up their base for the first time, post-inauguration

February 2009: The administration releases its unemployment projection for 2010 -- we'd be at 8.5 percent

Feb 19, 2009: -- Rick Santelli rants from the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange about the administration's new mortgage loan modification program. He calls for a new Tea Party

February 15, 2009: Fed chair Ben Bernanke says he sees "green shoots" in the economy

March  29, 2009: Obama fires the CEO of GM, which had placed it fate in the arms of the federal government.  GM would re-emerge a year later in much better fiscal health.  $82 billion worth of TARP funds were used, fueling ire that the government was paying the people who messed up things in the first place.

April 4, 2009:  Obama says there are "glimmers of hope" in the economy

May 19, 2009: Congress passes historic credit card reform legislation

July 23, 2009 -- Obama addresses the nation on health care

July 28, 2009: Glenn Beck announces that Barack Obama "has a deep-seated hatred for white people."

August, 2009 -- Tea Partiers take over health care town hall meetings

August 10, 2009, Taking advantage of their second amendment rights but scaring the heck out of the Secret Service, some New Hampshire residents bring guns outside an Obama rally.

November 3, 2009: GOP picks up NJ and VA governors mansions. Democrats manage to hold onto a House seat in New York because of divisions within the Republican Party.

November 20, 2009 TARP watchdog Elizabeth Warren says that while TARP saved the banking system it did little for consumers, their mortgages, and their confidence.

December 2009 -- Harry Reid, the majority leader, cuts a deal with two Democratic senators to bring them on board the health care bill. Ben Nelson of Nebraska secures $100 million in extra Medicaid payments; this is immediately dubbed as the "Cornhusker Kickback," and poisons people's views about the way that Democrats were crafting the legislation.

December 25, 2009: An Al Qaeda-trained terrorist nearly blows up a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit.

January 20, 2010: Scott Brown stuns the world by winning Ted Kennedy's vacated Senate seat in Massachusetts. The Tea Party claims him as their first candidate, but Brown later shuns the label.

January 21, 2010: The White House announces support for the "Volcker" rule, which would restrict derivatives trading.

January 30, 2010 -- Obama schools Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore, energizing Democrats ahead of a key health care vote.

Feb 3, 2010:  Obama says a "corner has turned" for the economy.

Feb 3, 2010: It's revealed that AIG executes netted $100 million in bonuses. The Treasury Department seems helpless to intervene and Obama seems to have to force himself to match the public's level of anger, even though he really is angry.

Feb 6, 2010  -- Sarah Palin addresses the first major Tea Party gathering in Nashville, TN and throws out the memorable line: "How's that Hopey-Changey thing working out?" (Note: at the same rally, she reads notes off her hand.)

Feb 20-22, 2010: The White House makes it clear that it does not support the "public option" for health care reform if it would lead to the bill's collapse in Congress. The "professional left" goes on a complete tear.

March 21, 2010 -- The House passes health care reform after 13 months of struggle. Democrats are decidedly unenthusiastic.

April 3, 2010  -- Obama says the "worst is over" as regards the economy.

April 20, 2010: A blow-out converter on BP's "Deepwater Horizon" well ruptures, and for months, oil seeps into the Gulf of Mexico. The administration is later accused of not responding quickly to the crisis, though it is hard, in retrospect, to see what more they could have done.  Obama holds regular meetings about the crisis, but he does not ramp up his public visibility until weeks later.

April 29, 2010: Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida, announces he's decided to become an independent, forced out of his party by the Tea Party and its support for Marco Rubio

May 8, 2010: Incumbent Senator Robert Bennett (UT) places third at the party convention, becoming the first Senate incumbent to lose his job in a primary. Two more (Arlen Specter and Lisa Murkowski) would follow.

June, 2010: -- The administration pins the tail on the donkey, speaking of a "recovery summer."  It isn't.

July 15, 2010: Congress passes the Wall Street reform package, two years after the nation's economy nearly plunged off of a cliff. 

August 28, 2010: Glenn Beck holds his "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C.

September 15, 2010: Christine O'Donnell upsets Mike Castle for the Delaware Republican Senate nomination.

September 16, 2010: Obama hires Elizabeth Warren, at times a critic of Obama's economy policies, to become a senior adviser at the Department of the Treasury and at  the White House, and tasked her with building the new consumer finance products regulatory commission.

September 22, 2010: Larry Summers, chairman of the National Economic Council, resigns.  

September 28, 2010: President Obama calls Fox News a "destructive" influence on the media.

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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