Setting aside the important racial symbolism, Obama’s first year may be most usefully compared with those of two Presidents of the modern era with very different historical standing: John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter. Like Obama, Kennedy and Carter were Democrats elected as agents of change after eight years of Republican control of the White House. Like him, they were youthful telegenic favorites of the press corps who promised a break with the tired politics of the past. Although they faced different situations at home and abroad, all three shared certain challenges…

So far, unlike JFK, he has displayed a hesitance to take responsibility, most recently regarding the foiled terrorist attack over Detroit. This has exacerbated the tensions within his administration that have left the White House bickering, through press leaks, with the Pentagon over fundamental strategy in Afghanistan.

It remains to be seen what lessons the President has learned from his tribulations over health care, and how he will apply them in the future.

Now is the moment for Obama to take a long, hard look in the mirror.