Locals react to Obama's first year in office

Shortly after the election of America's first black president, a flurry of local readers sent in their viewpoints about his election and what his presidency would mean for the nation. A handful of responders were chosen for an article in the Nov. 30, 2008, edition of The Augusta Chronicle . Three of them were interviewed last week about whether their opinions have changed about President Obama after his first year in office.

BRUCE STUART

BACKGROUND: A lifelong Republican; maintenance manager at Savannah River Site, lives in Aiken with his wife of 21 years and his 17-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter; born and reared in western Pennsylvania

What he said then

"I felt like everything was based on the economy tanking recently. Politically, his giveaway promises will only cost taxpayers money. I also question whether his loyalties are to this country or to Mideast allies. My hope is that I'm wrong about his motives."

What he says now

"I would have liked to have seen Barack Obama publicly recognize God and Jesus Christ, and not have a religion-less Christmas and continue with policy that focuses on creation rather than the creator. He's shaping the country in a socialistic direction. I base that on health care. I, as well as fellow believers, continue to pray for him and would like to see him come to repentance and see him acknowledge Christ. My motives are not anti-Obama."

Biggest surprise

"I guess even though it was way too slow in coming, the additional troops that are supposed to be going to Afghanistan is a positive surprise."

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ANDY OLSON

BACKGROUND: Republican who voted for President Bush (twice) and for U.S. Sen. John McCain; former Marine aviator, served two tours in Vietnam, flew 560 combat missions and retired after 24 years of service; currently general manager of Cedar Creek Development in Aiken County

What he said then

"I think we need to be very careful and watch ourselves and not do the same thing that was done by the Democrats and the liberals, the 'Hate Obama. Hate Obama.' We don't want that. When you do that, and that's what happened to Bush, it goes international. People all around the world listen to that and see that. When they hear it enough, they start believing it. I don't want to see that happen to Obama."

What he says now

"In 2008, I wanted to give him a chance, and frankly I think he's blown it. I'm very disappointed in his staffing and the way he's gone about things - the bailouts for Wall Street. He's ignoring the biggest industry in the country, and that's construction. There's more and more big government. I think this is the wrong approach. We need tax cuts, not all this spending."

Biggest surprise

"He promised transparency and cooperation between the two parties, but everything's being done in secret. There has been very little effort to have joint meetings. I'm very disappointed."

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EDWARD MANER

BACKGROUND: Lifelong Democrat; works as a customer service specialist at the Georgia Department of Labor; has self-published two books, A Common Sense Guide to Parents Who Want to Send Their Kids to College and Looking at Real Life Through the Eyes of an American Bad Boy

What he said then

"I think in the final analysis he will be compared to John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton - those two for sure. What he has in common with them is that John Kennedy was brilliant, Bill Clinton is brilliant, and I see Barack Obama in that same light. I think that in the years to come, when you mention names like John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, Barack Obama will be mentioned in that category also."

What he says now

"President Obama is doing an excellent job considering the mess he has inherited. The country's still together. It hasn't fallen apart, so that means he's doing something right. I don't think we can ask for any better in leadership. In the midst of all the problems he has inherited, he has shown Americans he can deal with it."

Biggest surprise

"I'm surprised at the people who have hated on him, conservative Republicans across the United States. I think with the stimulus package he has really helped. It has been an asset to the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs. He hasn't surprised me."

Previous story: Speaking out on president-elect

Read the locals' full reactions to then-President-elect Obama as recorded in a Nov. 30, 2008, news story.