The legacy of Barack Obama
Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States, the first born outside the continental U.S., and the first African-American President in history. He is also the 17th President to win re-election. He also won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, just nine months after his election. As his Presidency draws to a close, it's important to look at his accomplishments.
Like all U.S. Presidents, his two terms have had their ups and downs. There are those who believe he was the worst President ever, and some who believe he's one of the better Presidents. Here is how I see his legacy.
Affordable Care Act
Also known as Obamacare, this lengthy piece of legislation's standing is where the majority of his legacy will always stand, much like Social Security for FDR and the Civil Rights Act for Lyndon Johnson, just to name a few. This is the signature bill of his time in office, and its successes, and failures, now and forever, will affect how President Obama will always be viewed historically as President.
The bill is not without issues, from the definition of full-time employment to the delays of implementation, first for the employer mandate, then for the delay of the employee mandate, to various court challenges of its many aspects. And that states, and insurance companies, have dropped from the program adds to its issues. Broken promises such as "If you like your health care, you can keep it" (rated by the Washington Post as the lie of the year in 2013) have hurt this legislation.
On the plus side, more Americans are covered than before, costs (for some) are dramatically down, and children can be covered until 25. On the downside, the employer mandate was for full-time employees, defined as over 30 hours a week, meaning more people are working part-time than ever before. And people get fined for not getting insured.
The act was also under fire during the primary by Socialist Bernie Sanders, for not going far enough, and by the entire right for overextending the authority of federal government. Should this law be dismantled, or even further stripped, history will not look as highly on the Obama Presidency.
How would you rate the Obama Presidency?
Name a country in Central and South America. You'll find that at some point in our history, since James Monroe, that we have either invaded or meddled in their affairs, even overthrowing governments, such as Panama (twice), and backing rebel factions. Since Truman, whenever communism rears its head, we have a history of trying to change the regime. The Middle East is no different, whether it was backing the Shah in Iran to supporting the group that would become al Qeada in Afghanistan against Russia or Desert Storm, even Iraqi Freedom. Arab Spring was our latest attempt to "fix" other nations' "bad" governments.
Arab Spring funded rebel forces in Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood, and civil war in Yemen and Syria. Some of these forces would join with a rising terror threat called Islamic State, a group that would overrun parts of Syria and Iraq.
While Iraqi Freedom might have helped set the stage for IS, Arab Spring provided this group with military assets and money. On a related note, had we not helped overthrow Libya dictator Gadhafi the Benghazi consulate attack might not have happened as al Qeada might not have risked the ire from him due to someone again drawing the ire of the US on him.
One of the best public speakers around
Fast & Furious was a gun-running operation that sold assault weapons to various factions of the Mexican mob and resulted in the deaths of two Border Patrol agents. His IRS targeted conservative groups more than other political fundraising groups. He traded five prisoners for a deserter. Ed Snowden revealed the NSA had expanded the Patriot Act. The VA was found to provide poor care for war veterans. The General Services Administration spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a lavish training conference. His former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did all of government business on an unauthorized, and poorly protected, private server. He also claimed, falsely, that the Benghazi attack was the result of a protest about a video on YouTube as opposed to al Qeada.
In his defense, the volume of scandals pales in comparison to many of his predecessors. And with the exception of Hillary's Emailgate, as far as can be proven, his administration is rather open. The most "transparent ever" claim is dubious, but his is much more open than the Cloak and Dagger operation of his predecessor, and lacks the chicanery that was common in the Clinton administration.
Obama on Stimulus
In 2009, Barack Obama pushed for a stimulus program that would boost the economy and provide alternative energy, thus easing American dependency of foreoign oil. These jobs, he declared, were "shovel-ready". After Solyndra, the largest beneficiary of the stimulus, declared bankruptcy, along with four other beneficiaries, he was forced to admit there were no shovel-ready jobs. Somewhat ignored in this was that Solyndra had helped fund his campaign.
With that said, 63 of the 68 companies that received money from the Department of Energy are still in business, so the program hasn't been a complete wash. But it also has failed to improve a sluggish economy, something the stimulus package was purported to do. In fact, it was about as successful as the Bush stimulus.
Divided We Fall
Often times a President gets blamed for things he had no control over. Think George H.W. Bush getting hit over the economy. He didn't want dozens of dot.com busineeses to burst their bubble, causing massive unemployment. But the Dot.com bubble hangs over his administration as much a cloud as the Vietnam War darkens LBJ's Presidency.
In Barack Obama's case, the rise of the Tea Party and its opposition to his policies wasn't something he desired. Nor would I claim that the chaos mongers in Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter are things he desired. And certainly not the rise of mass shootings over the past two years.
But his rhetoric, and unwillingness to condemn the riots and anarchy these two groups caused hasn't helped. And his blaming the weapons for the mass shootings seems to encourage this behavior. At the least, his alienation of whole groups in America with his speeches certainly hasn't aided efforts to curb these groups.
And his inability, and his "take it or leave it" attitude, to work with Congress has continually fueled the Washington gridlock. Every President has had trouble with the opposing party. (Heck, LBJ couldn't get his own party to back the Civil Rights Act....) But neither side was willing to work out the differences.
Obama on Common Core
This doesn't include Common Core, which at least wasn't No Child Left Behind and received input from actual teachers, while the Iran nuclear deal has Rob Deer feel to it. (For those unfamiliar with baseball, Deer was a professional ball player known for either hitting home runs or striking out. There wasn't much middle ground.) The home run would be that Iran becomes civilized and joins the international community. The strikeout is that Iran will develop nukes and use them. (Smart money is on the latter btw) The normalization of Cuban relations could be an improvement. And then there's the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which doesn't really have a downside.
In truth, this sums up the Obama Presidency. For every accomplishment, there's a "Yeah, but..." And there's many things that don't have an upside.
So where do I rate him? To put him on the bottom is an insult. To say he's worse than the scandal-ridden administrations of Ulysses S. Grant and Warren G. Harding is insulting. He doesn't merit inclusion with other bottom feeders such as Herbert Hoover (Great Depression), Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Millard Filmore, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor (all four had a hand in setting up the Civil War), and James Polk (he invaded Mexico...), or Andrew Johnson (nearly impeached by his own party), or Benjamin Harrison and George W. Bush. (I'd rank him the 10th worst, tied with Jimmy Carter.) And this is the usual suspects regarding worst Presidents ever.
He definitely doesn't belong on Mount Rushmore (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt), nor does he compare with the others in the top 10 (names such as FDR, Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, and Reagan).
In my opinion, he rates somewhere in the middle. We've had worse Presidents, we've had better.
That is President Obama's legacy. So, what do you think? Feel free to comment below.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.