Published December 13, 2009
WASHINGTON -- President Obama, in an interview that aired Sunday, gave himself "a good solid B-plus" grade for his first year in office.
Speaking with fellow Chicagoan Oprah Winfrey, the president claimed progress on economic and international fronts.
Obama said the only thing that stands in the way of giving himself a better grade is the fact that some elements of his agenda -- health care reform and putting more Americans to work -- remain undone.
"The biggest burden on me right now is that economic growth has happened, but job growth has not happened," Obama told Winfrey on the ABC special.
Speaking to CBS's "60 Minutes," the president said he'll know by the end of 2010 if his Afghan strategy is working, and pledged to change direction if the U.S. military is not on course "in terms of securing population centers" from Taliban militants.
Obama also said his Dec. 1 speech ordering 30,000 more American soldiers and Marines into the 8-year-old war "hit me in the gut" emotionally more than any he had given.
After doubling the U.S. force in Afghanistan in March, just two months after taking office, Obama raised the stakes further by ordering a nearly 50-percent troop increase in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He issued the orders even as support for the war was crumbling among the public and opposed by many fellow Democrats in Congress.
"You know, that was actually, probably, the most emotional speech that I've made, in terms of how I felt about it," the president said, "because I was looking out over a group of cadets, some of whom were going to be deployed in Afghanistan. And potentially some might not come back."