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Is America on a Losing Track?

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Returning from an extended vacation in Europe, it's been impossible to ignore the dark cloud of pessimism hanging over the United States. Americans are depressed about the economy, the BP/Gulf oil spill, and the war in Afghanistan. A majority of voters feel the US is on the wrong track. Is it? And has that perception made President Obama's job impossible?

On June 28th, CNN interviewed former President Bill Clinton who commented about the American mood: "The American people hire you [the President] to win for them" Until people feel better about their own lives, they're not going to feel good about their president." At the moment, many Americans feel like losers.

It's helpful to remember that Obama and his supporters came into this situation with open eyes. On November 5, 2008, the ONION headline was "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job": the new president "will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind." Barack Obama inherited a broken economy, crumbling US infrastructure, ill-conceived military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a Federal bureaucracy that had been gutted by Republicans a condition that produced the BP/Gulf oil disaster.

Nonetheless, Barack Obama has been in the job for eighteen months. While most Americans acknowledge that America's problems originated in the Bush Administration, they look to Obama to fix them and to lift their spirits.

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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