Obama will probably turn out to be one of the most consequential presidents in recent history, if not of all time.
In this most polarized age no president could be judged great by all, at least not for long.
He has accomplished a great deal during his presidency.
Away back In October 2008, there were four great tasks before him.
“If he sees the country through the current economic crisis, brings the war in Iraq to an end, passes health-care reform that actually achieves something close to universal coverage, and sets the country on a course away from a reliance on fossil fuels.
To varying degrees he has done all four.
The trouble is that each victory has come with extraordinary complications.
Today under Obama’s policies unemployment stands at 5 percent. Yet wages remain stagnant and economic insecurity is still widespread, despite the availability of jobs.
Obama followed through on his promise to remove American troops and end George W. Bush’s catastrophic war, but the country has not released its hold on us. The corrupt sectarian government of Nouri al-Maliki alienated and oppressed its Sunni citizens, allowing ISIS to thrive. Obama is still struggling with the aftermath of the war, as will his successors.
On health care,
by passing comprehensive reform, Obama did what Bill Clinton failed to do and what Democrats had spent decades trying to accomplish. But though the Affordable Care Act is a huge success in many ways, with millions of Americans newly insured and all people able to get coverage regardless of their health history, the fact that it was essentially a gigantic kludge — a complicated fix laid on top of an already absurdly complicated system — has limited its ability to provide universal coverage or eliminate the pathologies of a profit-driven health care system.
Obamacare wasn’t really a government takeover, but the student loan overhaul actually was; it yanked the program away from Sallie Mae and other private lenders that had raked in enormous fees without taking much risk. It all added up to a revolution in how America finances higher education, completely overshadowed by the health care hoopla and drama.
And on climate change,
Obama got something of a late start, but he has moved aggressively, with new regulations on auto efficiency and power plant emissions, along with a historic agreement just signed in Paris which committed virtually every nation on earth to a common effort to reduce carbon emissions.
There are hundreds of other decisions and accomplishments one could point to over the last seven years as being of great consequence, but any list would have to include the nuclear agreement with Iran, the normalization of relations with Cuba, new Wall Street regulations, saving the American auto industry, ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, ending discrimination against gays in the military and pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage, and avoiding the kind of major scandal that plagued so many of his predecessors.
He achieved all this against a Congress that opposes him on virtually everything and in the midst of a race to determine his successor.
And much depends on who that successor is; if it’s a Democrat (presumably Hillary Clinton), then what Obama achieved could be reinforced and expanded.
Obama would then be considered the most important president since Franklin D. Roosevelt.”
Any Republican, however, would devote himself to reversing everything Obama did.
What a joke it would be if fly over Americans voted for a Chump Trump. Who doesn’t seem to know what policy arguments are.
He has promised to pay off the entire $19 trillion national debt by the end of his second term as president. But doing that — while also keeping promises to cut taxes, increase defense spending, and leave Social Security and Medicare untouched — would require Trump to somehow juice the economy so that it grew by a magical 25 percent a year.
Sanders is a bit better, maybe.
What ever happens the contours of the next presidency, and maybe even the one after that, will be determined by what happened between 2009 and 2016.
Whatever you think of him, it’s looking like Barack Obama did indeed change the country’s trajectory, by doing pretty much what he said he would.
Americans are lucky to have Barack Obama as president, and we should wake up and appreciate it while we can. It could be a long wait for the next one.
His accomplishments, ambitious goals, dignity and honesty under tough circumstances demand admiration and appreciation. Becoming the first black president is itself an epic triumph. He doesn’t ask for credit for being the first black one. He and his family are at risk every day, and we take their courage for granted.
He wasn’t a catalyst for same-sex marriage but nourished the culture that made it possible.
Not everything has changed in the Obama era. For example, he talked a big game about eliminating wasteful programs, but other than killing the F-22 fighter jet, an absurdly expensive presidential helicopter and a hopelessly captured bank regulatory agency called the Office of Thrift Supervision, he hasn’t done much of that.
He was reelected by a comfortable margin, but conservative Republicans have taken back both houses of Congress and made impressive gains in statehouses on his watch, riding a powerful wave of hostility to federal overreach. That political legacy could imperil some of Obama’s left-of-center policy legacy if a Republican is elected to succeed him. It has already stymied gun control and immigration reform, while forcing Obama to accept deep spending cuts he didn’t want.
Or it could all get worse.
We view current events as puny rivers of tweets, not grand chapters in the ultimate story — history.
A world seen through the sacred screens of televisions and computers that can view only the puny.
So, Mr. President, on behalf of me the silent witness unlike your ungrateful nation, thank you. Enjoy your well deserved sleep. You might enjoy my Unpublished book. https://flipboard.com@no1bobdillon