For a nation gripped with worry about its economic future, among the concrete things Obama achieved was an agreement out of the G20 summit in London.
The wealthy and developing nations promised to get a handle on risky financial transactions, to act to further stimulate their economies if growth doesn't improve, and to help poorer nations feeling more effects from the global financial meltdown than they can mitigate on their own.
Obama didn't get European nations to step up with the kind of immediate stimulus spending that might quickly jump-start their economies and in turn boost America's, but he billed the meetings as a success nonetheless.
In the meantime, Arabs and Muslims have been charmed by President Barack Obama's first venture into the Islamic world.
Obama's visit to Turkey this week was full of gestures calculated at showing he is a friend to Muslims, like his headliner sound bite that the U.S will never be "at war with Islam" and his mention of the Muslims in his family. Even throwaway lines like a comment that he had to wrap up a town-hall meeting with Turkish students "before the call to prayer" showed he was no stranger to Muslims' way of life.
To many, the town-hall format for a meeting with students in Istanbul on Tuesday sent a significant message. The sight of a U.S. president being questioned by Muslims was dramatically different from the perception many had of Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush. Bush was seen by many Arabs and Muslims as domineering and dictating U.S. policy on the Islamic world.
"Obama is much better than Bush," Abed Taqoush, a 74-year-old flower shop owner in the Lebanese capital of Beirut said Wednesday. "Bush was a war criminal. Obama seems to be a man of peace."
"I believe him," he said of Obama—a phrase echoed by many Wednesday.
Keep track of what Obama has been doing since taking office:
Day 78: Obama Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq (Apr. 7)
- Obama made an unannounced visit to Iraq. Obama chose to visit Iraq rather than Afghanistan because of its proximity to Turkey, which Obama just visited, said Robert Gibbs, the president's spokesman. In addition, Obama wanted to discuss Iraq's political situation with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talibani, Gibbs said. Mostly, the stop is about Obama visiting troops, Gibbs said.
Day 77: Obama Visits Turkey (Apr. 6)
- President Barack Obama sought on Monday to rebuild ties with Turkey, a Muslim country with growing clout whose help Washington needs to solve confrontations from Iran to Afghanistan.
- Obama's two-day visit was a nod to Turkey's regional reach, economic power, diplomatic contacts and status as a secular democracy seeking European Union membership that has accommodated political Islam.
- It is the last leg of his debut trip on the world stage as president. It is also his first to a predominantly Muslim country as president, a visit closely watched in the Islamic world.
Day 76: EU and US Join Forces (Apr. 5)
- The European Union said that it has joined forces with the U.S. to tackle a "severe and global" economic crisis. After a meeting Sunday with Obama, leaders of the European Union's 27 nations said they and the U.S. "are determined to work hand in hand" to put in practice decisions they made at a Group of 20 summit to counter the economic downturn.
Day 75: Financial Industry Paid Millions to Obama Aide (Apr. 4)
- Lawrence Summers, the top economic adviser to Obama, earned more than $5 million last year from the hedge fund D. E. Shaw and collected $2.7 million in speaking fees from Wall Street companies that received government bailout money, the White House disclosed Friday in releasing financial information about top officials. Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, wields important influence over Mr. Obama’s policy decisions for the troubled financial industry, including firms from which he recently received payments. (Full Story)
Day 74: Congress Approves Budget Plans (Apr. 3)
- The Democratic-controlled Congress Thursday approved budget blueprints embracing Obama's agenda but leaving many hard choices until later and a government deeply in the red. (Full Story)
- The new chief executive of General Motors has embraced a change of direction for the automaker and is working on a plan to make the firm viable, said White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee. (Full Story)
- Obama, traveling in Europe, issued a statement praising the votes as "an important step toward rebuilding our struggling economy." Vice President Joe Biden, who serves as president of the Senate, presided over that chamber's vote.