January 04, 2017

#ObamaLegacy — let's start talking

Since McClatchy came out with a poll last week, it's a good time to talk.

Is Barack Obama better than George W. Bush? But of course. The Nobel Pizz Price committee learned in hindsight that doesn't make him great, though. (And, no, Democrats-first libruls, this left-lib doesn't consider Shrub the worst president in history. I would unarguably place Andy Johnson, Buck Buchanan and Frank Pierce below him, and very arguably also slot Warren Harding, Ulysses S. Grant and Zach Taylor lower too.)

Sorry, neolib Democrats with Bush Derangement Syndrome. He may indeed have been bad, but he wasn't godawful.

That said, Obamiacs? Yes — Obamacare put more people on health insurance — if they can afford to use it with the high deductibles and high copays. And, contra my Dems right or wrong folks, this IS a problem.

Of course, a second problem is that Dear Leader himself blocked the implementation of about, what, one quarter of Obamacare, by executive order. When you have to block one quarter of your own signature legislation, you can't be that good.

And, there's the complication of his ethnic background and its ties to larger black historyy. S-USIH has an excellent post on this, with links to a longform by Ta-Nehisi Coates and responses to it. I think Coates gets a fair amount right, but also a fair amount wrong. The specific wrong areas are best addressed by Tressie Cottom, also linked there.

So, where does he rank?

Obama? Even without wading through an individual listing, off the top of my head, he's probably below the top 15 but above the top 33. (This ranking is of 43 presidents, throwing out William Henry Harrison for shortness of service. That said, in future rankings, I'm willing to throw out Washington as sui generis, which gives us 42, if we're still doing two separate presidencies for Grover Cleveland, or 41, if we're giving one rating to Cleveland the man.)

Per this ranking list of mine from 2007, which needs an overhaul, I had Reagan at 15 and Clinton at 16. Obama would probably slot a slot or two below.

I have started that overhaul, which I intend to be done by Jan. 20, or soon thereafter.

Having read two Walter Karp books beyond my first reading of him years ago, and gotten moderate insights from one and limited thought from the other, and having now read Sheldon Wolin's "Democracy Incorporated," several presidents are getting significant grade drops, and a number are getting moved around.

They're also being put into tiers, which will further indicate how many poor holders of the office we've had.

That said, on to the man I've "affectionately" called Dear Leader for eight years.

Obama's biggest failures?
1. Expanding the spy-and-snoop state against American citizens more than Bush did.
2. Not getting out of Afghanistan.
3. Killing at least one American citizen without due process.
4. Continuing the militarization of US police departments.
5. Underfunding the stimulus in 2009.
6. Not nationalizing banks in 2009.
7. Presiding over a "recovery" where 95 percent of new jobs since the Great Recession are NOT traditional full-time, direct-hire, permanent jobs.
8. Wrecking the Democratic Party's immediate future by doing a horrible job on the Congressional hustings in 2010 midterms.
9. Libya.
10. Selling more military weaponry abroad than any previous president.
This Foreign Policy article has a good wrap on all of his presidency, both domestic and foreign. I pretty much agree, other than on some specifics on Syria; contra the article, I've still not seen clear proof that the Syrian military was behind the alleged crossing of Obama's bright line on chemical weapons.
11. As a subset of No. 1, an unprecedented use of the Espionage Act and other tools against journalists, in an attempt to "plug leaks."

This well-written screed from Counterpunch, coming after Dear Leader's farewell address, sums it up well.

A semi-failure:
1. A partial change to health care, called Obamacare. When one-quarter of your own signature legislative achievement is blocked from implementation by you, Dear Leader, it's certainly not a clear-cut success. The price spikes a month before the election may have done as much as James Comey's reopening of the emails issue to sink Hillary Clinton's election.
Oh, and claiming Berniebros undermined Obamacare is just bullshit.

His successes:
1. His PR.
2. Not being Bush.
3. His Nobel Piss Prize.
4. His mellifluous voice and his Kumbaya chorus.

More serious successes:
1. Obamacare, to the degree it's a success
2. Getting us sort of out of Iraq.
3. Not getting us bogged down in Syria.
4. Doing what he did, inadequate as it was, for economic recovery.
5. Perhaps being more of an environmentalist than I have thought. On the other hand, it's Douglas Brinkley making the claim, so take it with a grain of salt. On the third hand, he continues to use the Antiquities Act, even if many of the new national monuments are BLM ones.

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