By Carol Costello and Bob Ruff
One full year after a President's inauguration is always a good time to take stock and ask, "How's he doing?"
By all accounts, the inauguration of the nation's first African American president was historic. We asked presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who wrote biographies of Jimmy Carter and Franklin Roosevelt, to assess what it was like at the start of the President Obama's term.
"He had a bit of a roll for a few months," says Brinkley, "…(and) had a crucial rubicon to overcome, to cross, and that was high expectations in the spring. He had run on change and "yes we can", and there was a feeling that this progressive movement was going to sweep into Washington, D.C."
As we know all too well, it hasn't worked out exactly that way so far.
The love and joy of the inauguration fell prey to federal bailouts, rising unemployment, and tea parties and rancor over health reform.
Jesse Jackson, founder and President of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition,told us "we thought that we were at a new moment and going to a new place, but the level of resistance has been historical and ugly and very divisive."
A leading voice of dissent, radio host Rush Limbaugh, who told a cheering CPAC gathering in late February : "What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country's so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed?"
Drew Westen, Emory University political psychologist and the author of "The Political Brain", was an Obama supporter during the campaign. Now he is critical of much of the President's performance, especially in his dealings with the Republican opposition.
"You don't compromise with the people who completely disagree with everything you believe in," says Westin. "You clearly enunciate a vision and you say this is my vision for America. And not my vision is somewhere between what I believe and somewhere where people on the other side believe."
By leaving much of the health care reform debate up to Congress, Westen and others believe, Republicans found an opening to create fear and confusion among voters.
Can you spell "Tea Parties"?
Like many other first term Presidents, Obama's popularity has mostly gone downhill since his inauguration. Right now it hovers just above or below 50%, depending on the poll.
With unemployment stuck in the 10% range for the nation -at-large, African-Americans –whose jobless rate is even higher - have been steadfast in their support of the president even those we questioned on an unemployment line downtown in Atlanta.
"I feel like he's done a good job," said Derrick Owens. "I feel he's trying to help people who are out of jobs right now."
Joan Thornton said, "January 20 will be one year. And in that time I am of the opinion that he has done an outstanding job."
Rose Matthews told us, "There were many things happening with the economy that were out of President Obama's control."
An unidentified man said we should give the President more time "before we grade him on the job that he's doing. We gave Bush 8 years. And look what he gave us."
In fact every person we interviewed gave the President at least passing marks.
And what about the President himself? How does he think he did? He told People Magazine recently "What I haven't been able to do … is bring the country together in a way that we had done in the inauguration. That's what's been lost this year … that whole sense of changing how Washington works."