President Obama: the scorecard so far

By Ian Jones, MSN UK news editor REUTERS/Babu
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Barack Obama's first four years in the White House: hits and misses

When Barack Obama first entered the White House as president in January 2009, he took charge of a country that was stuck in recession, was fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and had fallen out of favour among much of the rest of the world. Expectations of the new president were huge. Now, as Obama begins another four years in the Oval Office, we identify some of his greatest successes so far - along with his most notable failures. Click through for more. 

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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Ending the war in Iraq: HIT

One of Barack Obama's most famous campaign promises when running for president in 2008 was to end America's involvement in Iraq. This he achieved in December 2011, when the final US troops withdrew from the country nearly nine years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. All combat missions involving US troops had ended in 2010.

REUTERS/Erik De Castro
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The war in Afghanistan: MISS

Despite authorising a "surge" in the number of US troops serving within the Nato forces in Afghanistan, President Obama was not able to use his first term in office to bring peace to the country. He has stuck to his promise that US troops will be withdrawn from the country by the end of 2014, but he now faces pressure to not abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban. Meanwhile the number of US troops killed in the country since the American-led invasion of 2001 has now exceeded 2,000.

REUTERS/Larry Downing
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Equal pay for equal work: HIT

The very first bill signed into law by President Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It guaranteed women the same rights as men when filing equal-pay lawsuits and fighting discrimination in the workplace. The bill was named after Lilly Ledbetter, a worker at a Goodyear tyre factor in Alabama, who fought and lost a campaign for equal pay in 1998.

REUTERS/Michelle Shephard
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Guantanamo Bay: MISS

Barack Obama said repeatedly during his first campaign to become president that he intended to close the US detainment camp within the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba. The camp had been established by President George W Bush in 2002 to house detainees suspected of involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. When he became president in 2009, Obama signed an order stating that the camp would be closed within the year. But this didn't happen. The reason stated by the US government was that the prison contained detainees "too dangerous to transfer" elsewhere. During his campaign for re-election, Obama repeated his desire to see the Guantanamo Bay camp closed.

KeystoneUSA-ZUMA/Rex Features
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'Don't ask, don't tell': HIT

In 2011 President Obama repealed the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy: legislation that had barred all openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people from military service. The policy had been in place since 1993. His decision was hailed by many as a major step forward in human rights in the United States. In 2012 Obama went further, announcing he was in favour of same-sex marriages.

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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The Middle East: MISS

President Obama paid a high-profile visit to Egypt during his first year in office, using a speech to try and reshape America's relationship with the Muslim world as well as promote peace throughout the region. But after this early flurry of activity, Obama's efforts to engineer a settlement in the Middle East stalled, then failed. The promise of what became known as the 'Arab Spring', a movement for change that brought democracy to the likes of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, has not extended across the region. Tensions remain high, particularly between Israel and Iran.

REUTERS/Jason Reed
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Osama bin Laden: HIT

On 2 May 2011, President Obama announced to the world that a team of US Navy Seals deployed in Pakistan had found and killed Osama bin Laden: the leader of al-Qaeda and the man who had claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001. The manner of Bin Laden's death was not received with universal praise around the world - some would have preferred to see the man put on trial. But many in America were cheered to see Obama enact "revenge" on the person most identified with 9/11.

REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
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Syria: MISS

During the 2012 presidential election campaign, Republican candidate Mitt Romney repeatedly accused Barack Obama of mishandling the ongoing crisis in Syria, and there was some truth in his criticism. President Obama was slow to speak out against the actions of President Assad, whose regime has been engaged in a brutal crackdown on rebel forces since 2011. Obama also resisted going as far as Romney in pledging support to the rebels. Resolving the crisis will be one of the early challenges of Obama's second term in office.

REUTERS/Mike Segar
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The economy: HIT

Early in the first term of his presidency, Obama signed into a law a massive package of aid and investment, known informally as "the stimulus", intended to lift the US out the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was estimated at the time to be worth around $787bn, and included money for extra spending on education, health, infrastructure and unemployment benefits. Arguments continue over the long-term effectiveness of the stimulus, but it undoubtedly provided a short-term boost to the US economy.

REUTERS/Larry Downing
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Climate change: MISS

In his victory speech in 2008, Barack Obama spoke of the need to save "a planet in peril". But after some early steps towards working with environmental groups and promoting green issues, climate change disappeared as a key concern of Obama's presidency. Saving the economy became the administration's number one priority. The 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, at which Obama failed to persuade the rest of the world to sign up to tough emissions reductions, represented one of the biggest missed opportunities of his first term. Now, with the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy still in people's minds, the president may choose to use his second term to renew attention on environmental affairs.

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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Wall Street reform: HIT

The Dodd-Frank Bill was signed into law by President Obama in 2010. It introduced a major system of regulation and accountability in the US financial system, in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the economic crisis of 2007-8. It also saw the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and established rules to prevent banks using their own money to make risky investments.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Healthcare reform: HIT

A central project of President Obama's first term was to widen US citizens' access to affordable healthcare. His proposals, dubbed "Obamacare", became law in 2010 and require insurance companies to offer healthcare to all applicants regardless of gender or pre-existing conditions. The policies were opposed by the Republican party and remain the subject of huge controversy, but Obama's second election victory ensured his healthcare reforms survive for another four years.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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The US Congress: MISS

For the first two years of his presidency, Barack Obama enjoyed the full support of Congress thanks to a Democrat majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. But in the 2010 mid-term elections the Republicans roared back, seizing control of the House and leaving the Democrats with just a tiny majority in the Senate. It was a dramatic reversal of fortune for President Obama, which he rightly described at the time as a "shellacking". The 2012 elections did not change the balance of power, meaning Obama begins his second term with a divided Congress.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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The auto industry: HIT

Another of President Obama's responses to the economic crisis of 2007-8 was his decision to, his own words, "not let Detroit go bankrupt". Government money was poured into the American automobile industry in 2009 to prevent mass unemployment in states such as Michigan and Ohio that would have been caused by the collapse of the major car companies. The subsequent revival of the auto industry has to be hailed as one of Obama's biggest successes.

REUTERS/Mike Segar
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Unemployment: MISS

When Barack Obama was inaugurated as president in January 2009, the US unemployment rate stood at 7.6%. But thanks to the economic crash of 2007-8, it was on the rise, going on to hit 10.2% in October 2009, the first double-digit figure for over 25 years. Only in 2011 did it fall back below 10%, slipping below 9% in November, and below 8% in September 2012. Getting Americans back to work proved to be one of the toughest tasks of Obama's presidency. High unemployment will be one of the lasting legacies of his first term. Obama must hope the same won't be said about his second four years in office.