BoyOhBoyOhBoy, have I been waiting for THIS! You asked me a LOT of awesome questions, – I DID! but one I thought of for you keeps popping into my head, and it’s heavy:
About a year ago (and probably early this year), many political commentators were saying that President Obama would be regarded as “one of the most consequential presidents in US history”. Given that the Orange Guy and his Republican Congress are poised to undo everything President Obama accomplished over the past 8 years (and pretty much every good thing done by all presidents, Republican and Democratic, over the past several decades…), do you think the pundits’ assessment is now laughable? Or, will it be that Obama’s image will soar, much as even Bush the Second is already being seen as “not so bad, really…” in light of the Orange Guy about to take over? I’m not asking about President Obama’s legacy so much as to what extent will he be relevant when all his work is undone?
First off, W’s legacy will continue to be in the pits for going into an unnecessary war in Iraq and presiding over an economic collapse
unpresidentedunprecedented in decades.
Also, there are legit complaints I have with Obama, mostly having to do with drones. And I had thought to write a more balanced piece on him after his eight years. But the disinformation about him has been so strong that, like you, I’m not feeling the need to be fair and balanced, to borrow a phrase.
I really can’t talk about Obama, though, without talking about his legacy. And there’s a bunch of things that Agent Orange simply cannot take away:
* He was the first black President, Bill Clinton notwithstanding.
And he had a lot of expectations put on him. I remember reading in 2008, “Rosa sat, so Martin could walk. Martin walked, so Obama could run. Obama is running, so our children can fly.” What a burden!
Barack Obama had the right personal biography to not only get elected but re-elected. Lest anyone think that was easy, you should check out My President Was Black: A history of the first African American White House — and of what came next by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates wasn’t always a fan of Obama, but it is clear that it was different for this POTUS than it was for the other guys. (I know you can’t get The Daily Show there, but if you get a chance, watch Obama on the Daily Show, and for that matter Coates on the Daily Show.)
Little black kids now know that anyone – well, any GUY – can become President. (And if AO’s election doesn’t prove that…)
No wonder Luther, President Obama’s anger translator, as played by Keegan-Michael Key, with Jordan Peele, seems so believable.
(Have you noticed, online, the number of people who fail to spell his first name – no, it’s not Barak – correctly? He was President for eight years, people!)
* He didn’t pursue charges against the Bush administration.
There was a strong case for prosecuting Bush officials who designed torture policy, but he was trying not to appear partisan and divisive – which he was later labeled anyway. Given his eventual partisan reputation, maybe he should have, but…
From “you LIE,” uttered by a representative during a joint session of Congress in 2009 to Georgia senator praying for Obama’s death – in public, he’s put up with a lot of rubbish. Someone said in 2016 that he invented racism in America, someone with no understanding of US history.
*When Barack Obama became President, the economy was on the verge of collapse. And now, it’s not.
A second raise in the basic interest rate recently is a pretty good sign of that. He just reached a record-setting 80 months of job growth. Since 2010, businesses have added more than 15.1 million jobs. That’s longer than any president ever has before.
* He did get Obamacare passed.
Those with a memory will recall it came about because private insurance prices were spiraling out of control. Even the “replaced” product the GOP promises will likely protect those with pre-existing conditions, and those under 26 on their parents’ policy. This NY Times article suggests “a transformation of the delivery of health care may be an enduring legacy for the president.”
* He was THE BEST pro-LGBTQ President ever.
*Osama bin Laden is dead.
And he made the bold decision for redundancy that made the difference between success and possible failure.
*He has released more non-violent criminals from prison than any President
Read about the New Jim Crow why that’s a good thing.
* Barack Obama seemed to enjoy the job, and his pleasure was infectious.
Check out so many opportunities he got to represent the country, most recently, President Obama’s final Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony.
* He’s way better toward the environment than his successor will likely be.
* He is working until the end.
*All in all, he was a successful President.
Here’s Bill Maher with President Obama on Real Time the Friday before the election. As Mark Evanier noted, “I think history will show this man was a very good president — which is not to say those who were convinced he was a gay Kenyan socialist who was planted in the White House to destroy America will ever admit it…”
Rolling Stone named President Obama One Of America’s Most Historically Successful Presidents. Here are more links, including 400 OBAMA accomplishments, with citations.
From GQ: “More to the point, Obama’s legacy is the sort that gets canonized. Because the first rule of Hall of Fame-dom: The times have to suck for the president not to. Civil wars, World Wars, depressions, and recessions. You got to have ’em if you wanna be great. That’s why we rate the Washingtons, Lincolns, and Roosevelts over That Fat Guy with the Walrus Mustache. Like Obama, these Great Men were dealt sucky hands, won big, and left the country better off than it was before.”
Agent Orange simply cannot undo all of these. If he makes things as bad as I fear he will, it’ll be laid at the table of AO. More nukes to make us safer? No need for government research? Anti-everything people heading Cabinet departments? The contrast will be so astounding that this will make Obama look REALLY good.
AND once Barack Obama is out of office, “I’m gonna stop being polite and start getting real.” He’s not finished yet. So if the Republicans use their guide to screwing the working class, it won’t go unopposed.