I’ve taken to viewing Obama’s presidency as a massive disappointment. At times, he seems like a closet Republican, clumsily and arrogantly stumbling his way through foreign policy and the occasional crisis. He lacks Reagan and Clinton’s gift for saying the right inspiring words to reinstill confidence when things are going wrong. (That said, they were both weighed down by various problems late in their presidencies, too, and yet they were surely the best presidents of my lifetime.)
But behind the bumbling and tone-deaf messages, he actually hasn’t been that bad. In 2008, the country was circling the drain. He helped bring us back from the abyss, and as Sullivan and Krugman note here, the deficits are shrinking. Back when Congress did its job, he and Congress invested in a shattered America, and it’s paying off.
His biggest failure, though, may be in failing to fight back against the tide of utter ignorance. The Know-Nothings are poised to take both houses of Congress, which could have a chilling effect on everything the USA needs to address — climate change, immigration, inequities in the economic recovery, etc.
Some may have thought of Obama as someone who could give nice speeches but couldn’t manage the country. To an extent, he has turned out to be the opposite.
He’ll leave office in 27 months as an enigmatic figure, someone who restored order and passed much needed health-care reform but never mustered much enthusiasm to get anything else done.
Unless, of course, he finally reveals himself as an Islamofascist socialist who’ll declare martial law rather than leave office.