In his memoir A Promised Land, Barack Obama describes many major challenges he faced in his first term as President of the United States. One of the greatest challenges was the economy. He describes that even before Obama was inaugurated, he and his team were dutifully trying to come up with ways to avoid an economic depression. They were already working with senators and representatives so that they could immediately pass a stimulus package that could hopefully pull America’s economy out of its abysmal state.
The stimulus package connects to another challenge that Obama discusses from in his first term: Republicans. Obama says that he wanted to make a “serious effort” to try and get some votes for the stimulus package from Republicans. Despite earnest attempts, Obama writes that the “prospect of Republican cooperation appeared more and more like a distant mirage.” The firm opposition to the stimulus package and other initiatives like health care reform and immigration reform caused major challenges for Obama during his first term.
A third key challenge that Obama faced in his first term involved the media. Within the first months of his first term, CNBC personality Rick Santelli delivered a famous “rant” (to use Obama’s term) about how the stimulus package was bailing out people who didn’t deserve help. According to Obama, the Santelli rant “foreshadowed so many of the political battles” he had to confront later on. Throughout his first term (and second term), Obama would have to constantly counter alternative narratives about his laws and policies. These antagonistic accounts were crafted and funded by various conservative and Republican groups.
For more major challenges in Obama’s first term, consider the auto industry bailout, the debt ceiling crisis, and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.