Obama The Great?
Posted on January 21, 2013
Historians will rate President Barack Obama as one our nation’s greatest Presidents.
The question is: Was he any good?
That the history profession is dominated by a liberal elite comes as no surprise. Robert Dallek, Arthur Schleschinger, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Beschloss would all rank both Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson towards the top of the list and Ronald Reagan towards the bottom. George W. Bush will never ever get his due for how he handled 9/11 attacks as he passed landmark education and Medicare legislation or for his remarkable commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa.
Mr. Obama broke the Presidential color-line, which is an impressive and historic feat. He did it by building a world-class campaign apparatus, one that will forever be a model for political campaigns to come. Historians will note that Mr. Obama came to office amid a financial crisis, and will bend over backwards to give him credit for the fact that the nation survived it. They will say that he successfully bailed out the struggling auto industry. They will call him a war-time President and give him credit for killing Osama Bin Laden.
All of that is true. But any historian worth his (or her) salt, should analyze the entire record.
It was George Bush who got the Congress to pass TARP, a controversial but indispensable government program that kept the financial industry solvent. The auto bailout, also controversial, was also initiated by Bush in the last days of his Presidency.
Obama took the Bush programs in both cases and perverted them, making them less effective. He took the TARP program and made it a government spending program. He took the auto bailout and made sure the unions were bailed out.
When it comes to the wars, Obama made exactly the wrong call. He went all in on Afghanistan and pulled critical support for the Iraq regime. We have wasted billions in a never-ending effort to bring the Afghani people into the 19th century, while opening the door for greater Iranian influence in Iraq.
The President has taken a small Bush drone program and made it the chief way to we battle terrorists, all over the world. Liberal historians who supposedly care about the big moral questions surrounding state-sanctioned assassination should not let Obama off the hook on this one, but my guess is that they will.
On the domestic front, Obama’s spending policies should go down as the most irresponsible in our nation’s history, but my guess is that the historians themselves will give the President a pass. He created a brand new health care entitlement by raiding from another entitlement, knowing that the Medicare cuts would in all likelihood not be enacted. His initial spending program, dubbed a stimulus by the White House, was a trillion dollar pork-fest, which included every single spending hope and aspiration of every Democrat that had gotten elected to the Congress in the last decade. The efficacy of that spending was best demonstrated by Solndra going bankrupt.
As the first African American President, Obama has done precious little to help that beleaguered community increase its chances of advancing into the middle class. Black unemployment is worse than it was during the Bush or Reagan Administrations. Black on black violence in Chicago, the President’s home town, is reaching catastrophic numbers. Thankfully, for those who live in Washington D.C., the murder rate is down significantly, but the unemployment rate is still much worse than for every other ethnic group.
It is hard to say that racial polarization has improved during the Obama years, and you can make the case it is much worse. That’s not Obama’s fault, but he hasn’t done much to make it better.
A President usually makes his bones internationally. Obama is more popular than George W. Bush in places outside the Untied States. But does that mean he is more effective? How is he pushing our national agenda forward?
Well, let’s see.
The Middle East is a complete mess. We have exchanged a pro-American regime for a pro-Islamist regime in Egypt. We pushed out a secular regime in Libya, and now an Islamist regime that may or may not have been complicit in the murder of our Ambassador is in power. We are pushing out another secular regime in Syria, and will likely have another Islamist Republic on our hands.
In Asia, we owe the Chinese a shit load more money than we did at the start of the Obama years, and that limits our options. The North Koreans now have a nuclear weapon and a missile capable of reaching the United States. They have a new dictator there, a younger, pudgier version, but it is not clear how he will use his weaponry. The Japanese has elected the most nationalistic Prime Minister in the last 50 years, and tensions between Japan and China are as high as they have been in decades.
Now, this is not Obama’s fault. I get that. But the President has been absent when it comes to the region, and, as I pointed out, we owe the Chinese a shit load more money than we did four years ago. That limits our options about what we can realistically do there.
The President likes to compare himself to a combination of the Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. Ike left us a highway system and a budget surplus. FDR left us Social Security and a vanquished Nazi regime.
Obama is going to leave us with a huge national debt, a more fractured political landscape and a confusing mess called Obamacare. That’s not much of a legacy, in my view.