Was Obama's Presidency Actually A Failure?

Closing arguments for the Obama years. 

Was Obama's Presidency Actually A Failure?
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With the final days of Obama's presidency coming to an end this week, his years in office are inevitably being placed under scrutiny, and it's not at all looking rosy for the outgoing president. In fact, a new book published this week, claims that "Obama's supporters have experienced (his presidency) as a continuous disappointment." 

Those supporters, the book states, can't fail to have noticed that "for most of Obama's term, wage gains were largely confined to the rich." Or that "The administration's planning in Libya clearly failed" or "It is certain that the actual outcome (of Obama's Syria policy) was disastrous." 

Also, check out 8 Tweets From Barack Obama Lovers That Trump Won't Like 

President Obama looking sombre. 

President Obama looking sombre. 

Even many of the achievements of which President Obama is most proud, are now looking distinctly short- lived: "If there was a single aspect of Obama's legacy most vulnerable to reversal, it was his achievements on climate change," the book says, and "Obama's regulatory offensive is, of course, vulnerable to reversal by Donald Trump or the Supreme Court, since it rested upon executive action." The longest chapter is titled "The Inevitability of Disappointment."

Given the negativity of the quotes above, it's somewhat surprising that the title of the book from which they come is "Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail," by the New York magazine columnist Jonathon Chait. 

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Jonathon Chait.

Jonathon Chait.
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And indeed, throughout the book, Chait seems to struggle to find sustained coherence. On page 99 for example, he alludes to "overblown or even false claims that the new law (ObamaCare) was raising premiums," but three pages later he says, "Big insurers like Aetna pulled out of the exchanges, reducing options, and insurers in most markets raised their premiums"... So, Republican opposition - basically wariness of new spending, while Obama is racking up more debt, doesn't merit a rational counter-argument.

On page 31, the author declares "the simplistic initial hope of Obama's giddy supporters that the symbolism of a black president could help heal, if not eliminate, racial prejudice turned out to have a real basis in fact." But 20 pages previously Chait had stated the exact opposite: "racism continues to lurk deep in the American psyche," "Americans had split once again into mutually uncomprehending racial camps," "the continued existence of racism in American life has been confirmed by a library of social science research." 

Racism in America.

Racism in America.
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Whatever Chait's personal opinion might be, current polling on race relations reveals a clear message. American worries about race relations increased markedly in Obama's second term after having been stable for nearly 20 years. These concerns reached a new high in spring 2016 while the president's approval rating on race issues has dropped from 'very high'  when his first term began, to a low of 26 percent at times, according to Gallup. 

President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama.
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Whatever Chait's opinion might be, current polling on race relations reveals a clear message. American worries about race relations increased markedly in Obama's second term after having been stable for nearly 20 years. These concerns reached a new high in spring 2016 while the president's approval rating on race issues has dropped from 'very high'  when his first term began, to a low of 26 percent at times, according to Gallup.

Chait goes on to complain that The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), commonly known as the stimulus, was far too small and admits that the Republican critique of it as funding "a wish list of long-standing Democratic policies" had "an element of truth". Later, Chait also credits the stimulus as saving the US from depression – despite the fact that the downturn ended in June 2009 around the same time as the first stimulus cheques were being signed.

Moreover, deep recessions (such as the 1981-82 one) that cause people to economise are usually followed by booming rebounds... but not this recession. The stimulus failed so badly that that five years after the recovery began, 72 percent of Americans polled said that they thought the country was still in a recession. "The stimulus ultimately failed to do what America expected it to do - bring about a strong, sustainable recovery," wrote Michael Grabell of ProPublica.

What Chait fails to mention is that Obama is the first president since Hoover to fail to preside over a single year of 3 percent growth. President Obama entered office with no backup plan for what to do if Congress withheld their rubber stamp... so he contented himself giving speeches and signing executive orders that Donald Trump is shortly about to overturn. It looks like Obama's chapter in the history books is going to be a lot less substantial that many people hoped or expected. 

Stimulus.

Stimulus.
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Moreover, deep recessions (such as the 1981-82 one) that cause people to economise are usually followed by booming rebounds... but not this recession. The stimulus failed so badly that that five years after the recovery began, 72 percent of Americans polled said that they thought the country was still in a recession. "The stimulus ultimately failed to do what America expected it to do - bring about a strong, sustainable recovery," wrote Michael Grabell of ProPublica. 

Recovery.

Recovery.
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What Chait fails to mention is that Obama is the first president since Hoover fails to preside over a single year of 3 percent growth. 

Herbert Hoover.

Herbert Hoover.
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President Obama entered office with no backup plan for what to do if Congress withheld their rubber stamp.So, he contented himself giving several speeches and signing executive orders that Donald Trump is shortly about to overturn. It looks like Obama's chapter in the history books is going to be a lot less substantial that many people hoped or expected.  

Obama and Trump.

Obama and Trump.
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Also check out 8 Tweets From Barack Obama Lovers That Trump Won't Like