PODCAST: David Gergen, Lani Guinier, Jack Beatty, and Michael E. Porter on Obama's First Year

A year ago tomorrow we woke up and elected the first-ever black President. A couple of weeks ago at the Boston Book Festival, a panel of pundits kicked off what is sure to be an avalanche of first-year retrospectives on the Obama presidency. Surprise: nobody's happy. And this, folks, is the loyal opposition.

LANI GUINIER says the first year of Obama has been marked by the "dis-involvement of all the people who helped make him president in the first place," adding that if he sticks to his current course, it will be "very dificult to accomplish the change he promised and that we need."

DAVID GERGEN checks "all of the above" next to 10 phrases that describe Obama during his first 12 months in office, including "extremely talented," "inspirational," and "persistent," but also "naive," "inexperienced," and "sometimes weak and vaccilating." 

JACK BEATTY, senior editor at The Atlantic, laments that an Obama who campaigned as an outsider has been running a relentlessly "inside game" from the Oval Office, attempting to work within Washington's entrenched power structure. "People haven't quite seen him as a leader, it's very hard to see his imprint on things," Beatty says. "It's not really what I expected." As an example of what Beatty did expect, he mentions that when Obama took on Wall Street, he should've given a speech like the one John F. Kennedy gave to smack down steel barons back in 1962. (It's a devastating speech. You can listen to Kennedy give it here.) 

It was left to MICHAEL E PORTER, a Massachusetts Republican from Harvard Business School, to offer something approaching praise: Obama has restored the "moral authority to lead," he says . . . and then complains that Obama has not been inclusive of American business leaders in solving the puzzle of an economy that, we might have pointed out had we been on the panel, went belly-up thanks to a previous administration listening to an awful lot of business leaders.

And that's just the beginning. For the rest, we'll leave you to moderator TOM ASHBROOK, of NPR fame, and the rest of this hour-long kneecapping of the President of the United States. Happy anniversary!

PODCAST: David Gergen, Lani Guinier, Michael Porter, and Jack Beatty: The Obama Year (mp3)

Recorded live at Boston Public Library during the 2009 Boston Book Festival. To subscribe to this podcast, paste this RSS feed into your feed-reader of choice, or bookmark the Boston Phoenix Podcast blog. 

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