Obama’s Eight Year Verdict

obama-inauguration-2013If you want you be thought of as a great American president, it helps to be elected to two terms. One-term presidents can do great things, and even win a war, but not winning a second term generally overshadows everything you do. But a second term is no guarantee of greatness. Nixon and Bush are good examples of second terms squandered to scandal and disgrace.

Barack Obama isn’t great yet. The American voters have seen fit to entrust our nation to his leadership for another four year term, but it will take a combination of his actions and the distance of history to determine greatness.

Take FDR. It’s taken as a fait accompli, especially among the left, that his presidency was great. And of course, no president will have the opportunity he did to remake America in his own image with domestic and foreign policy. No president will ever have the luxury of four elections again. But many of Roosevelt’s contemporaries made complaints about his presidency that would sound familiar next to today’s Obama’s liberal critics. It’s difficult to make a fair assessment of policy this close to its passage – particularly something as sweeping as health care reform, for instance.

It also helps to have something to compare it too. While I would still argue that too much of the policy passed under President Clinton was influenced by conservatism, the Bush presidency helped to make me appreciate the very real differences between the two parties. That’s why, in the midst of an economic recovery, Clinton is very much “the good old years” in human form.

Sometimes policies are instantly proven wrong. There were no WMDs. The lives lost in Iraq were lost for no good reason. But sometimes we need the distance of history to make a true judgement.

Obama could be great. This could be his moment. But while we have every right to hold his feet to the fire, we should also remember that each day is just a sliver of the entire image. Obama will be judged on the entire eight years of his time in office, but there’s not enough evidence yet to render a verdict.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1101712036 Elisa Vote Dem Velez

    Oh Oliver…

    While I’m generally a fan, this piece saddens me so much. Barack Obama isn’t great yet? Obama could be great? There’s not enough evidence yet to render a verdict?

    *smhidd* (shaking my head in disgust & disappointment)

    President Obama IS great. He’s been a great POTUS for the past 4 years and I have no doubt he will continue his legacy for another term. There is, in fact, enough evidence to render a verdict. Me thinks the black blogger is bending over backwards not to give credit where credit is true because he’s been called “obama-lover” & “Obama-bot” too much from the GOP Trolls & Faux progressive nutcases. Why else would you turn a blind eye to all of his worthy accomplishments?

    I’m not going to bend over backwards to do any new research on my President’s achievements because honestly, I don’t feel that repudiating this haphazardly written piece is worth that much of my time. Especially because you of all people, already know the things he’s done. This said, away we go!

    Off the top of my head, President Obama is one of the youngest recipients to be awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

    NOTE: I’m not going to get into a lengthy debate about the merits/legitimacy of said honor. But because I’m well aware of the cry-whiners on the extreme left & the pout-raging GOP faux-progressive trolls on the right, I will say this –

    President Obama inherited Bush’s mess, his doctrine of pre-emptive wars & the unresolved heartache of 9/11. He campaigned on going into Afghanistan/Pakistan so everyone who feigned surprise over his actions is either stupid of simply talking out of their collective tea/fire-bagger butts when they dishonestly bemoan his “hoodwinking” of a nation and supposed “misrepresentation” of himself. I’ve supported ALL of the military decisions OUR Commander in Chief has made & I make no apologies for it.

    It took 10+ years to eradicate Osama Bin Laden. Bush didn’t do that – President Obama did. And I thank God, we were blessed as a nation with a POTUS that had the grit & determination to get it done. If I were president (haha! What idiot recently said that?) I’d have been inclined to simply bomb Afghanistan (wrong country! OBL wasn’t holing up in there!) right off the world map as a clear “message”. Thankfully, President Obama has a more thoughtful, tactful, approach than Bush, or I.

    This brings me to President Obama being consistently voted the most respected world leader In consecutive international polls. Isn’t it ironic how he’s so esteemed abroad but hated so very much by his own people? It kind of reminds me of Jesus, who suffered death at the hands of his own people. Oh, and let’s be clear… just because I can appreciate a relevant analogy, doesn’t make President Obama my “Messiah”. I’ve heard those asinine right wing assertions too.

    For their determination to put an end to veterans living on the streets, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama received the highest honor given to homeless advocates when they were chosen to get the Jerald Washington Memorial
    Founders’ Award. Additionally, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) Barack Obama is the first person – in history – to receive the award more than once.

    And Joe Biden was right…

    Healthcare reform IS a big fu@king deal.

    Note: I’m not going to argue about single-payer/medicaid for all being better because that’s not the issue. The reality of the issue is that it would never have gotten past the obstructionist GOP. So getting ANY kind of healthcare reform passed was indeed a big fu@king deal. And as as President Obama so passionately & eloquently said, when he defended the legislation, history tachs us that all legislation grows into what it’s supposed to be. This is just the first step. Speaking of which, now that the medical care/loss ratio aspect of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) has kicked in, it’s looking a whole lot better, isn’t it? This legislation was enacted in a way that all of it’s components would “roll out” so as time passes, “We the people” are graced with more benefits. Hallelujah!

    Speaking of Hallelujah’s, there was the 1st piece of Legislation he signed was The Lilly Ledbetter Act guaranteeing equal pay for women. This in conjunction with his fierce advocacy for funding womens’s health & defense of those under attack by right wing nut jobs like Limbaugh’s dishonest degradation of Sandra Fluke made him the ultimate feminist & apple of our Liberal eye. His ending of DADT, hiring of an administration w/the highest number of openly gay people & support of same sex marriage also solidified a legacy of gay advocacy & the belief in civil rights, that all men are indeed created equal. The tears he shed at funeral services and press conferences over school shootings might be easily overlooked, yet they’re the most poignant & compelling testaments to character of this great man.

    I’ve gotten a bit long in the tooth so let me just conclude by saying, the very fact that this president is still standing is a testimony to his greatness. Any other Commie-Socialist-Marxist-Islamo-Facist-New-World-Order-Illuminati-Kensian-Kenyan-Secret-Gay-Agenda-Having-Hitler-Nazi-Muslim would’ve crumbled the day after the GOP decided on his inauguration night to obstruct every thing he & his administration attempted to pass. So pffft! to you Oliver Willis.

    This disingenuous puff piece was written to prove something to someone but it failed to convince those of us who’ve been paying attention. Barack Hussein Obama is a great man and great President who has already left we the people, a great legacy.

    Our nation will recall & revere President Obama’s greatness long after both you & I have passed. The history books will make sure of it…

    After all, he was ALREADY deemed on of the best President’s our nation has ever had by 200+ historians & scholars. But what do we know, right?

    God bless America, it’s people & our great President, Barack Hussein Obama <3

    O-BAM!-A! ;)

    • dbtheonly

      Why do I think we’re being “Eddie Haskelled”?

      • Dennis

        I thought the same thing at first, too, db. Almost reads like a parody.

        • The Dark Avenger

          You really need to keep Rebecca off the computer, Dennis :-)

  • dbtheonly

    Buzz,

    Okay. Getting people to stop being terrorists. Good Idea. How do you get there?

    Jane & our buddy, Z, below are going over similar territory. She thinks that President Obama isn’t doing enough.

    • Buzz Killington

      As I said, I don’t have all the answers, I just know endless war is not the solution.

  • Zython

    Except that Obama really had nothing to do with ObL

    Let me tell you a little story. It’s about another Democratic president that was also dealing with terrorists in the Middle East. However, this time, the mission got botched, and the presdient was ulitmately blamed for the failure. He lost reelection as a result.

    Do you expect me to believe, had the attack on the compound failed, that you would not blame Obama? Because history shows me that you would.

    By his own admission he’s never been in support of this war on terrorism.

    I’m sure you have a link to him saying this, rather than expect me to take this at face value. Because Obama’s actions certainly don’t show that he opposes the war on terror.

    Then, all of the sudden when highly trained Navy Seals were able to find and kill Osama, he was ready and willing to take all credit for the mission!

    Yes, I’m sure that the mission was fully planned, funded, operated, and had all the intel provided by Seal Team 6 and them alone.

    He’ll be number 1 for lying and cheating the American people.

    Clearly, we should have voted for that bastion of honesty and virtue Mitt Romney, who only lied a little over 900 times during his campaign.

    • dbtheonly

      Z,

      Presidents lying to the American people:

      1. Nixon
      2. Polk
      3. Bush, Jr.

      Whatja think?

    • Zython

      Yeah, that’s what I fucking thought.

  • http://twitter.com/wetcasements James

    I’ve got plenty of reasons to be critical of Obama but he’s looking pretty good on the legacy front.

    Primarily, and to the tears of Republicans, on foreign policy — ObL dead (just ask Jimmy Carter what a botched Middle Eastern commando raid can do to your reputation as president), a number of African and Middle Eastern nations moving, albeit slowly and painfully, towards democracy, an Iranian regime that has basically been neutered through Obama’s economic sanctions, etc.

    But what might be most telling, legacy-wise, is that Obama has started the transformation of the US military from a Middle Eastern oriented force to one focused on Asia and China in particular.

    Also, how many 9/11s have we had under Obama? Let’s never forget that John McCain’s closing argument in 2008 was, literally, that a Republican president had only allowed 3,000 Americans to be murdered once.

    How fucking sad is that?

    So please Republicans, let’s hear about how happy you are that an Obama presidency has kept us safe.

    Oh, and the whole economy coming back to life is certainly going to help him with future historians and America will soon have as good a health-care system in terms of access as the rest of the developed world.

    Top five presidents ever? No. Top ten? Barring a 9/11 level failure to prevent a preventable terrorist attack? Most definitely.

    • dbtheonly

      We’re in the 5th inning. It’s far too early to call the ballgame. Any number of things can go horribly wrong between now & 2016. & Fox “News” will be there to put the worst possible spin on it.

      It really depends on how much the Republicans will obstruct. In “full no” mode President Obama will not be able to accomplish much & the legacy will be what might have been. With reasonable cooperation? Top 10 maybe.

      • http://twitter.com/wetcasements James

        There will be no reasonable cooperation from the GOP. If Obama cured cancer Boehner would declare it unconstitutional.

        Hell, how is this any different from the past four years? It’s Obama-jitsu. He simply wins by allowing the Republicans to allow their inner racist-homophobe-woman hating agenda to be announced loud and clear to the 73% of Americans who can’t stomach that stuff.

        Like I said, a 9/11 level event would doom him, as it would any president. But in his second term he has less to lose, and seems to be more willing to realize that he has to play hardball.

        So I’m optimistic.

        • dbtheonly

          Sure, but the Republicans were just reasonable on the debt ceiling. Can we expect that again? They could crash the economy. They might find a way to de-fund the ACA. They, probably, will obstruct enough Judicial appointments to clog the Courts.

          And I disagree; if President Obama found the cure for cancer Boehner wouldn’t call it unconstitutional, that’s Fox’s job, he’d deny Federal funding for production; calling it “wasteful pork”.

    • Buzz Killington

      We’ll see what he does with drones. I fear he will continue to expand their usage as far as possible, which will have terrible long-term ramifications.

      • dbtheonly

        Buzz,

        Given that the “Bad Guys” are out there. Given that they are plotting attacks to kill Americans. Given that they do not easily come within Judicial jurisdiction of the USA.

        What do you suggest be done to prevent the attacks they plan?

        • Buzz Killington

          I don’t have all the answers, but drones are terror tactics, they dehumanize the cost of violence (from our perspective), and they are counter-productive: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/25/drone-attacks-pakistan-counterproductive-report

          • dbtheonly

            Well yes, the Pakistanis don’t like having drones dropped on the bad guys. Yes, there’s collateral damage & deaths.

            But yes, I don’t have a better answer & it beats doing nothing. Dennis will probably laugh, but I trust president Obama to only bomb when there is clear & convincing evidence that the target is indeed a bad guy.

            As long as the bad guys hang out in Waziristan it’s going to be a dangerous place.

          • Buzz Killington

            That’s the thing… you don’t get to pick which Presidents you trust with that power. It’s all or nothing. Also, it goes beyond the targets simply not liking being bombed. It terrorizes them, literally. It’s part of a larger pattern: us becoming the very thing we claim is evil. After Bush’s exploits (which taught me valuable, painful lessons), I refuse to support such endless-war tactics, even leaving aside the morality aspect.

            “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

          • dbtheonly

            Buzz,

            Right. We might debate whether the Waziris are supporting terrorism by allowing the terrorists to live among them; but that’s not really the issue.

            I also agree that the power vested in President Obama may have a different color when applied by President Perry. I contend that the effort the US spends to insure that those struck are actively plotting attacks on the US, or our Allies, keeps us out of the monster category & shows the vital difference between punishment & terrorism.

            The issue is, if not drone bombing, then what? How do you stop the terrorists?

          • Dennis

            Good one, db. Drones are ok as long as you trust the president making the decision to drop bombs. What makes you think I would laugh at that?