The satirical paper Barack Obama began his Presidency devoted to the idea of post-partisanship.
His rhetoric, starting with his “Red State, Blue State” Convention speech, in 2004, and his 2006 book, “The Audacity of Hope,” was imbued with that idea.
However skillful the management in Washington, the slump was bound to last longer than any since the Great Depression.
At the same time, the United States was in the midst of the grinding and unnecessary war in Iraq, which killed a hundred thousand Iraqis and four thousand Americans, and depleted the federal coffers.
The gross domestic product was shrinking at a rate of nine per cent. Foreclosures and evictions were ubiquitous; whole neighborhoods and towns emptied.
The automobile industry appeared to be headed for bankruptcy.
Just as in his memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” he had tried to reconcile the disparate pasts of his parents, Obama was determined to bring together warring tribes in Washington and beyond.
He extended his hand to everyone from the increasingly radical leadership of the congressional Republicans to the ruling mullahs of the Iranian theocracy.
It also represented the largest public investment in infrastructure since President Eisenhower’s interstate-highway program.
From the start, though, Obama recognized that it would reap only modest political gain.