Thoughts on Legacies as the Curtain Falls on the Obama Presidency
As the curtain begins its descent on the presidency of Barack Obama I wonder how history will judge him?
Popular perceptions of history rarely reflect its reality and my own perceptions are usually somewhat unique. I know my sons do not agree with many of my conclusions but somehow that seems a good sign. They are their own men. I firmly believe that objectivity and history probably meet only at the corner where eternity meets infinity but still, if we are to progress, perhaps even survive, we need to glean what we can from its lessons.
So, … How to evaluate the presidency of Barack Obama (my heart would proudly call him Barack Hussein Obama, but too many would unfairly interpret that as a pejorative).
First and foremost, like Jimmy Carter, I believe that President Obama was a decent human being with very positive aspirations who wanted the best for the American people. However, he was not a courageous leader and he permitted his seemingly desperate desire for universal approval (in my opinion, a variant on Immigrant Syndrome), including acceptance by many, many people who would not have approved of anything he did, to sabotage his most important and positive initiatives, most notably turning his universal healthcare into a welfare program for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, turning the economic recovery into a benefit program for the wealthiest among us, and the hopes for peace into an amplification of the Islamic Holocaust.
Like Jimmy Carter’s (a man I greatly admire and one of my heroes), his was a failed presidency.
I believe that the fault for the failure had two principal pillars: Republican intransigence at all costs, something Democrats are now promising Mr. Trump (making all of us the losers); and, the constant interference of Hillary Clinton and her supporters who did not seem to realize that she’d not won the 2008 nomination and that she’d not been elected president; that interference was supplemented by unethical conduct and inept advice which terribly tarnished the Obama presidency.
Barack Obama’s nomination by the Democratic Party and his election by the American People should have been watershed events; both made be very proud to be a part of the United States and made me hope that they reflected a fundamental change in our collective soul, but perhaps, instead, they served as a mirror letting us know how much further we have to go in the areas of race relations and in healing the still open wounds of our racial history, including the nature of our civil war. That tragedy is compounded by our growing xenophobia and the obstacles posed by our theocratic tendencies which consistently derail our purported quest for widespread liberty, equity and justice.
We did not grow safer or more secure during the Obama presidency despite continuing the massive waste of our human and fiscal resources on belligerency related expenses. In fact, we lost more and more respect internationally, not from governmental leaders but from the People they purport to lead, a fact reflected in the wave of populism that has swept from Greece, the purported cradle of democracy, to the United Kingdom and Italy and threatens France, the Netherlands and Germany, among other countries. Misguided attempts to minimize Russia and China have miscarried and the too late and too little efforts to free us from the Israeli yoke and its devastatingly negative consequences in world affairs may also badly backfire. We have helped in the overthrow of democratically elected governments in the Ukraine, Egypt, Paraguay, Honduras, Brazil, a long standing tradition, and actively participated in the overthrow of the Libyan government and have labored to overthrow the government in Syria, both in the name of democracy, while supporting the brutal dictatorship of Saudi Arabia and the Apartheid government of Israel in the Middle East. The Obama administration ended this era of rampant hypocrisy bellowing loudly concerning purported foreign intervention in our own elections, welcome only when it stems from Israel. Not a pretty sight.
On the domestic political front President Obama’s leadership of the Democratic Party proved singularly unsuccessful but again, that failure should be laid at the feet of the Clintons and their followers who never accepted his leadership and hijacked the party for their personal benefit. Two Houses of Congress lost, numerous governorships and state houses and devastation at the grassroots levels. Over a hundred open judgeships unfilled at the federal level, including one membership in the Supreme Court. The damage to the party is mirrored in the damage to the institution of journalism in the United States also orchestrated for their personal benefit by the Clintons who apparently assumed the American People would just do as they were told, a surprising mistake. Again, not a pretty sight (if you’re a Democrat).
So, … perhaps the most important question concerning the Obama legacy is what happens now.
Barack Obama, the man, is still relatively young and he may now have more to prove than ever. It is doubtful that like John Quincy Adams he will return to the Senate but perhaps, like Jimmy Carter, he can make his mark through tireless efforts to attain equity and social justice at home and abroad. Perhaps he can assume control of the now rudderless Democratic Party and through significant reforms turn it into a positive force for the American people, wresting it from the oligarchy and Israeli lobby that have made both major parties their toys.
But first, a bit of well-deserved rest. History may or may not treat Barack Obama fairly but failures on his part are also our failures if we accept the belief that government is, or at least should be, of the People, for the People and by the People.
As president I believe Barack Obama was a failure. As a human being he is a success, and as to his legacy, well that may still be very, very open.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2016; all rights reserved