Everyone seems to have opinions on our two Presidents--the one outgoing and the one incoming. Most are intense and unwavering. I have always tried, after an initial assessment, to reverse my position and analyze the subject from the other side. Sometimes it affects my final assessment and sometimes it does not. After having done that on President Obama, here is my assessment of him, with the emphasis on four failures..
I have largely applauded President Obama. He is unquestionably bright and the best speaker ever elected President, in my lifetime. He was subject to brutal partisanship, yet maintained the decorum of the office. His sense of humor was perhaps the most effective weapon used on his enemies. But, in my opinion, he had at least 4 very serious failures:
1. As even he has said, Syria was a serious failure. After his out of character threat to Syria on crossing the "red line," Obama was manipulated by Premier Putin to accept a Russian brokered removal of Syrian chemical weapons, without firing a bullet. The reason was the 2010 election, which Obama could have won regardless. The innocent lives lost and the successful manipulation by Putin will haunt our country for a long time.
2. The birth of ISIS. In spite of strong pleas from his Generals and key Senators like John McCain, Obama insisted on removing troops from Iraq. The reason again, the 2010 election. The vacuum left fostered the birth of a new and more vicious terrorist gang that we are still fighting today, but now all over the world.
3. The insistence on getting everything in Obama Care. During his first term in office, with a Democratic Senate and House, Obama could force almost anything through the Congress. Riding record popularity, Obama forfeited a more moderate phased in health care program, to get his entire legislation, over the objections of all the Republicans. He could have started with pilot programs in receptive states, tort reform, and cross state access to pull some Republican support, but he opted instead for punitive mandates, fines and skyrocketing premiums.
4. Social Justice. President Obama came into office with a very liberal reputation on social justice and civil rights. But in his campaigns, his brilliant oratory made his social agenda seem acceptable, as demonstrated in his famous "Reverend Wright Speech" in Philadelphia. But as his terms wore on, to overcome Republican opposition, his Executive Orders became incendiary like black confrontations with police and bathroom mandates. Contrary to leaving office with the country more unified, Obama leaves many in fear of attacks from their fellow citizens.
In my next post, I will offer a similar assessment of President Elect Trump.