President Obama hasn’t always been so modest in outlining his vision for what Washington can accomplish. Here are some of the more bullish claims Obama has made about his goals since running for the highest office in the land:
“This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
Obama raised expectations when he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for president in June 2008, framing his candidacy and presumed victory as a breakthrough that would have global ramifications.
“Washington is broken. My whole campaign has been premised from the start on the idea that we have to fundamentally change how Washington works.”
Those words from September 2008 embodied the central theme of Obama’s first presidential run: that he would set a new tone in the nation’s capital. More than five years later, even his Democratic allies acknowledge that hope was a pipe dream.
“Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans … What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.”
In his first inaugural address, he pledged to usher in a new era of cooperation. Instead, political polarization has risen sharply under Obama's watch. Now, unwilling to engage lawmakers, the White House says it has no choice but to pursue a go-it-alone approach -- and a modest one at that.
“But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”
In his second inaugural address, Obama promised to put into effect a sweeping, progressive blueprint. The next 12 months, however, marked the toughest stretch of his presidency, with his public approval ratings hitting an all-time low and his entire legislative agenda sputtering to a halt.