The year 2009 feels like a long time ago — and in many ways, it really was. The first iPhone had only just come out. The economy had just crashed. And, of course, Barack Obama had just taken office. With the steady stream of absolute craziness in Trump's administration, it's hard to remember what was happening at this point in Obama's first term. So, it's take a journey back in time, to the days when members of the White House staff weren't subjects of major federal investigations and there was no question of a foreign power having worked to elect the president.
Obama entered in the midst of a financial crisis, and passed his stimulus bill not even a month into his presidency — despite the fact that Republican leaders had already vowed to obstruct his efforts as much as possible. He made great strides in his first 100 days, helped by a Democrat-controlled Congress. Some would have liked him to accomplish more, but compared to Trump's failure to pass any significant legislation in that period, the beginning of Obama's first term is starting to look more like a gold standard. Let's go to the time just after that, May and June 2009, when Obama's administration was really launching into full swing.
1Meeting The Israeli President At The White House
Obama had a deep friendship with Shimon Peres, then the Israeli president, and he honored that by welcoming Peres to the White House very early on in his first team. Among other things, they discussed achieving peace between Israel and Palestine through the two-state solution, which Trump has not embraced.
2Holding A Summit For Afghan And Pakistani Leaders
Obama met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at the White House, in an effort to persuade them to take a harder line on the Taliban. This led to the leaders promising to work together more in the future, although dealing with the problems in Afghanistan would not turn out to be a bright spot in Obama's legacy.
3Speaking At The White House Correspondents' Dinner
Obama always loved a chance to exercise his comedic muscles, and he started that out with an appearance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in May 2009. Among other things, he joked about bipartisan outreach and John Boehner's unnatural tan, saying,
4Giving A Commencement Speech At Notre Dame
Obama faced protests after being invited to speak at the University of Notre Dame's commencement. It didn't sit well with a number of anti-abortion activists, who didn't believe that someone committed to protecting women's right to choose should be honored at one of the nation's foremost Catholic universities. The protest wasn't quite equal to the walkout that Mike Pence faced at Notre Dame only recently, however.
5Promising To Enact Regulations On Automobile Efficiency
Obama made the commitment to making America greener early on, by introducing rules that would hold all cars in the United States to a much more fuel-efficient standard. This happened while many car companies were receiving government bailouts after the economic crash, and the auto industry, in addition to environmentalists across the country, actually welcomed the upcoming change.
6Signing Legislation To Help American Families
Obama continued his work to pull the United States out of the financial crisis, giving several speeches on the subject and signing two important pieces of legislation, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act and the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act.
7Nominating Sonya Sotomayor To The Supreme Court
Obama had the chance to nominate his first Supreme Court justice early on, and he chose Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court and only the third woman to serve there.
8Reacting To The Assassination Of An Abortion Doctor
Obama found himself mourning far too many sad events during his presidency, but the world witnessed a pretty stunning one in May 2009, when George Tiller, an abortion doctor, was assassinated by an anti-choice activist.
"I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr George Tiller," Obama said in response. "However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence."
9Going On His Third Foreign Trip
Obama took his third trip abroad in early June 2009, making stops in the Middle East and Europe and opening up a dialogue with the Muslim world. By contrast, Trump is on his first foreign trip now — and reports say that he only went on it reluctantly.
This only a small slice of what would stretch out into an eight-year administration, with all of the ups and downs that come to any major world leader. Say what you will, but Obama emerged scandal-free, and his first couple of months offered a good look at what his main priorities would be. For now, it seems unlikely that we'll be able to look back at this time in the Trump administration and remember so little of what was going on.