By JR on Tuesday, January 24, 2017
The harsh truth about Barack Obama: He failed
Some sad words from a disappointed Leftist below. He seems to have a better grasp of reality than most Leftists and is spot-on in fingering the unwillingness of Obama and his Democrats to compromise as the cause of Obama's failure.
In any Western democracy, there has to be a degree of bipartisan consensus for any reform to become entrenched. Otherwise it can be reversed by the next government of another stripe. It happened in Britain when it became clear to everyone but the British Labour Party that government ownership of industry was an abject failure. So Margaret Thatcher was elected and proceeded to uproot decades of British Leftist "work". The same is now about to happen to reforms associated with Obama.
Leftists tend to live in an eternal present, with no awareness of the past and a blissful lack of concern for the future consequences of their actions. The quite hilarious actions of Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats in abolishing the filibuster is a prime example of that. They didn't foresee a future GOP administration and are now left with no weapon in the Senate to obstruct Trump. They ripped up an important constitutional safeguard in order to get their way on some relatively minor matters and now find that they have given Trump an easy glide through the Senate confirmation process.
And that lack of vision was strikingly in evidence when Obama came to power. The Donks were like kids in a candy shop when they found themselves in complete control of both the Presidency and Congress. So they rushed to construct a huge piece of legislation that would fulfil all their addled dreams about healthcare and much else besides.
Even many Democrat congressional interest groups could see problems with the legislation but Obama and the congressional Democrat leadership piled on the pressure to get the legislation through. But such were the problems with what became known as Obamacare that most of that "golden" first two years of Obama control were wasted, with little else of significance enacted.
And given the problems with their own people, there was no way any GOP amendments would be considered. And none were. So the legislation passed with no hint of bi-partisanship. Which has now doomed it. There is no constituency in GOP circles in favour of it. Obamacare might have survived in some modified form if it had been constructed with a degree of GOP consent but it now looks like being completely uprooted. The Donks just did not look far enough ahead to envisage GOP dominance.
And as the writer below correctly notes, that obstinacy on the part of the Donks generated an equivalent obstinacy in the GOP. They regained Congressional majorities after the first two years and thereafter blocked most initiatives from Obama and his Democrat flunkies. Legislatively, Obama was neutered. And he and the Donks brought it upon themselves.
The major change in social policy during the Obama reign was the valorization of sexual abnormality -- but that was a product of SCOTUS, not Obama. And so many judges on the court are elderly that it seems Trump will have the opportunity to make appointments that will swing the court far to the Right for a long time. So a more balanced approach to sexual abnormality could well emerge from that
ALL hope, no change.
The world still swoons over Barack Obama, but we need to face the harsh truth about his presidency: it has been a crushing let-down.
The greatest American presidents are renowned for what they did in office. Abraham Lincoln ended slavery. Franklin Roosevelt created the New Deal. Ronald Reagan stared down the Soviet Union.
Mr Obama will enjoy a broadly positive legacy, but for very different reasons. He’s a cultural icon. History will remember him for what he represented, not what he accomplished. He has been an admirable role model, but an ineffective president.
Eight years ago, when he first ran for the White House, Mr Obama spoke of “fundamentally transforming” the United States. His idealistic speeches and extravagant promises captured the imaginations of Americans suffering through George Bush’s wars and the start of the Global Financial Crisis.
Mr Obama’s achievements since then bear little resemblance to the soaring rhetoric, and many of them are about to be dismantled by Donald Trump anyway.
His administration did oversee America’s relatively slow economic recovery after the GFC, bringing the unemployment rate down below five per cent. It also reformed the regulations governing Wall Street. But all of that was quickly overshadowed by Mr Obama’s top priority — the health care law known as Obamacare.
The goal, to help millions of Americans who couldn’t afford health insurance, was noble. The law itself, and the manner in which it was implemented, set Mr Obama’s presidency on a toxic path from which it would never recover.
Early in his first term, with the Democrats in complete control of Congress, Mr Obama rushed to pass the controversial law in a down-the-line partisan vote, overruling widespread opposition from the American public. No Republican voted for it, and in the midterm elections several months later, the opposition party swept into power on a wave of anger.
For the next six years, Republicans obstructed Mr Obama’s every move, preventing him from passing any other significant reforms. The president was forced to use his executive powers to circumvent Congress wherever he could, particularly on issues such as climate change and immigration.
The problem? Mr Trump can rescind those orders the moment he takes office. Even worse, the health care law itself is extremely unlikely to survive after Mr Obama leaves the White House, as Mr Trump and the Republicans have pledged to repeal it almost immediately.
This means most of Mr Obama’s domestic agenda, including his signature achievement, will be entirely reversed within months.
Mr Obama’s record on foreign policy is just as dicey. He advocated a less interventionist approach than George Bush, withdrawing from Iraq and rehabilitating America’s image around the world. Those parts of his agenda, along with his decision to authorise the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, were popular.
He also ended the decades-long trade embargo with Cuba, and forged an agreement with Iran aimed at curtailing the rogue state’s nuclear weapons program, though Mr Trump has indicated he will rip up both deals.
Beyond those accomplishments, Mr Obama has left Mr Trump colossal messes to clean up in Libya, Ukraine and particularly Syria, which descended into a cataclysmic civil war on his watch. He was slow to react to the rise of Islamic State, famously comparing it to a “junior varsity” team, and mocked his opponent in the 2012 election for daring to call Russia a “geopolitical foe”.
“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War has been over for 20 years,” Mr Obama joked. Since then, Vladimir Putin has annexed Crimea, flagrantly committed war crimes in Syria and apparently interfered in America’s presidential election.
So, on arguably the two greatest foreign policy challenges of his presidency — Syria and Russia — Mr Obama has not managed to find answers.
Mr Obama’s greatest disappointment, however, was his failure to honour the central promise of his 2008 campaign.
Millions of voters were energised by his pledge to end the chronic gridlock plaguing Washington. Sarah Palin infamously referred to this as the “hopey-changey stuff”, and perhaps she was right to make fun of it, because the bipartisan dream Mr Obama spoke of so eloquently never materialised. That wasn’t all his fault — the Republicans were determined not to play ball — but he could have done far more.
“Mr Obama is simply not the kind of politician that likes to get down and dirty with the kind of everyday politicking, and the horsetrading. He was simply not willing to engage in politics as it is usually done on Capitol Hill,” Dr Gorana Grgic, a lecturer in US politics at the United States Studies Centre, told news.com.au after Mr Trump’s election victory.
“A lot of people have said that it’s a kind of product of his personality and who he was previously. An academic, someone who’s very aloof maybe. He’d rather debate things, he’d rather try to show that his argument is plausible or he has more evidence to support his course of action than make those compromises.”
There was a fundamental contradiction at the core of Mr Obama’s presidency. He sounded like a centrist, constantly talking a big game about bipartisanship, but in practise he was condescending towards his political opponents and unwilling to compromise
That greatly hindered his ability to negotiate with Congress, and coupled with the Republicans’ own uncompromising shift to the right, it created “the most polarising environment ever” in the US, Dr Grgic said.
That environment led directly to the rise of Donald Trump. It decimated the Democrats, whose numbers have plummeted at federal and state level. Mr Obama’s party has seen most of its rising stars turfed from office, and now there is no obvious leader ready to pick up the pieces when he’s gone.
Mr Obama isn’t the only one to blame for this — not even close — but it’s an undeniable fact that he failed to bring the country together. Race relations have soured. Urban elites and rural voters openly sneer at each other. And in a sickening dose of irony, America’s first black president is about to hand over the White House to the man who spent years hounding him with a racist birther conspiracy theory.
It isn’t all negative. Mr Obama has been an exemplary role model in the Oval Office, as both a leader and an admirable father. He’s suffered no personal scandals, and has consistently appealed to Americans’ better angels. We won’t be able to say the same about Mr Trump, and you suspect the world will soon look back on the Obama years with fond nostalgia.
He will be remembered — perhaps even revered — as a progressive icon for decades to come, having personified a significant leftward shift in America’s social values. But few will remember what Barack Obama actually achieved, and for a presidency that started with such remarkable promise, that can only be considered a failure.