I try to be fair when discussing a new President. The fact is, I have not had one in my lifetime that really got me enthused at first. It may seem strange, since I am such a supporter now, but the main reason I was supporting W in 2001, was because he was not Al Gore. I despised Bill Clinton when he first took office, only raising my opinion of him after a few worthy accomplishments. Reagan won me over quickly, but even there at first I did not know what to expect from him, whether he would deliver on his promises. I saw Carter for the charlatan he was as soon as he decided to run. I liked Ford as a person (who didn’t?), but was never excited about him as President. And so on.
But in every case, there were at least clear indicators of how the man would lead. W Bush, Clinton, Reagan and Carter had been governors. The elder Bush had been in government service for many years, as had Ford and Nixon and Johnson. The only guy who was clueless in office at the start was Kennedy.
Oh yes, the “Camelot” President. In some ways, this is hopeful for President Obama. Kennedy pushed hard for Civil Rights, he pushed significant income tax cuts, and JFK was the muse for the moon missions. On the other hand, Kennedy badly bungled the Bay of Pigs crisis, his response to a steel strike was to all but nationalize the industry, and in general Kennedy’s term was a mix of going along with Congress’ policies-in-place, and getting the US deeply involved in Vietnam, although it took LBJ to really lock us there. Barack Obama is like John Kennedy in that he is a man of image far more than substance, that he lacks the political pull to compel Congress to give up its lust for spending, especially earmarks. Even if Obama means well, it is difficult to imagine him overcoming an entrenched DC machine and the Machiavellian workings of his own party.