The USA’s reputation had declined. The president was reviled around the world as a leader of questionable competence and intelligence, someone whose privileged family background and name propelled him to office.
As president he had defied the international consensus on climate change, signalled tax cuts for the wealthy and faced repeated criticism for his attitudes towards minorities and the poor.
This gloomy assessment is likely to be associated with Donald Trump a year ago today, but actually refers to the last Republican to hold the presidency.
Out of office for nearly a decade, George W Bush is now seen as a relatively safe pair of hands when compared to the continual soap opera of the Trump White House.
Admittedly the Bush presidency lacked the childish insults and the fig leaves of the far right.
Twitter was still a nascent tool in Bush’s day but it is hard for one to imagine the outdoors-loving Texan spending any time on it at all.
To read sections of the liberal Press one would think that the Trump presidency is akin to the apocalypse but the reality is that this chapter of American life is by no means its darkest.
America has survived multiple wars, two on a global scale and one between its own people which came perilously close to destroying its union.
Compare Trump’s conduct in office so far to, say, the Bush presidency. While the latter may have conducted himself with considerably more personal grace and discretion, his time in office bore witness to disastrous domestic and foreign policies which are still causing harm in the world.
A pair of extremely poorly planned and executed wars which greatly destabilised the Middle East, massively increased anti-Western sentiments among the Islamic world and resulted, directly and indirectly, in the loss of millions of lives. The horrors seen in modern day Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan are all a legacy of Bush’s leadership.
Domestically matters were little better. Household debt exploded, job and revenue creation stalled and the deregulation freight train, begun by Bill Clinton, was allowed to run out of control and cause the Great Recession which collapsed the world economy.
Trump reminds Americans on a daily basis of the strength of the US economy. Stock Market values on the Dow have hit record highs, GDP looks to be rising and unemployment is down.
Although much of this has been merely building upon the legacy he inherited from Barack Obama, he can, with some justification, claim to be overseeing a growing economy.
On foreign affairs, Trump’s attitude towards fellow world leaders has been classless and unworthy of his office.
His recent disparagement of African and Caribbean nations during a debate on immigration, as well as the deplorable retweeting of the extreme right group Britain First (whose tweets were shown to be bogus depictions of Islam) demonstrated his fundamental absence of diplomatic skill.
Despite a highly vocal army of die-hard admirers, Trump’s approval ratings are at the lowest level any president has seen at the end of his first year in office and much of America’s dissatisfaction concerns his words, which continually manifest a profound lack of morality.
His attacks on the free Press have serious ramifications for one of the cornerstones of Western democracy. Worse still is his flirtation with the far right.
His failure to denounce white supremacist demonstrations is abominable and has emboldened racists and bigots the world over. His presidency will have a terrible impact on race relations for sure, one that will take years to unwind.
However history has shown us for thousands of years actions are remembered far more than words.
Trump may well continually express embarrassing and deplorable sentiments both verbally and via social media.
But one must really look at his presidency not as an American disaster but rather a triumph of the strength of the country’s Constitution.
The occupant of the Oval Office is always styled as the leader of the free world, but the reality is America’s Founding Fathers designed the nation in such a way to insulate the country’s values and safety from despotic leaders, a legacy of the way the American colonies had been ruled from Britain.
Nearly 250 years on from the likes of Adams, Franklin, Hamilton et al their model stands firm.
Take, for example, some of his more outlandish campaign promises and attempts to execute them via executive orders.
The US/Mexico border wall has stalled, with the ludicrous claim that Mexico would fund it dropped. Trump has asked Congress to explore funding methods but as yet not a single penny has been appropriated.
The ban on followers of Islam entering the USA took on a much less severe guise after being blocked by the legislative branch.
It now merely adds up to a costly and pointless tightening of immigration policy that will make zero difference to national security.
And his attempts to ‘repeal and replace’ the Affordable Care Act, known to most as Obamacare, failed when he could not convince members of his own party to vote it through the senate, despite a Republican majority.
However weak or disreputable his leadership may be, the nation he leads will not be fundamentally weakened by his presidency.
The fundamental strength of the American nation is one which will endure and wipe clean any mess a president makes.
Mark Casci is the Business Editor of The Yorkshire Post.