Obama’s legacy: Was it good or bad?


The Daily Journalist community question.


President Barack H. Obama will soon exit his office in the White House. Eight years after his ascension to power in 2008, a lot of questions come to mind thinking of his legacy. Probably one of the most controversial presidents to ever set foot on the White House, not just based in his relentless promise to save America, but also on his attitude to change the world. From foreign policy to heath care, his reforms and decisions have stirred admiration and controversy around the world especially in America. Some people blame Obama for ISIS, others blame him for the greater turmoil affecting the Middle East; others blame him for his open border policy and the refugee crisis; others accuse him of stirring African Americans against police officers, and others vilify him for supporting his own ethnicity by overlooking the laws of criminal justice; those are just a few issues that have question his campaign among his critics. Despite the criticism I don’t think it’s fair to blame Obama for many of the problems he unfortunately inherited. Personally, I never blamed former president George W. Bush for 9-11, considering that Bill Clintons foreign and national security policy in 90’s eventually led to the collapse of the twin towers; so I don’t think It is fair to blame Obama for the Neo-Con agenda in Iraq outside the evident rise of ISIS . But I know people in our community of experts feel indifferent about Obama, so here go the questions.

  1. When Obama leaves office, will you miss him as Commander and Chief?
  2. Was Barak Obama a good president? Did he do the best job possible considering the problems he faced?  Is his legacy tainted?
  3. Should Obama be blamed for inheriting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?
  4. Should he be blamed for the Banking Crisis that really started in 1999 when Bill Clinton repealed the Glass Steagall Act that allowed banks to be free of Keynesian regulations?
  5. What was his best policy? What was his worst policy?
  6. Is he responsible for sparking racial wars against police officers?
  7. Did he unify Americans? Was he ever prepared to take on American politics?
  8. In few sentences: What is your opinion of Barack Obama?


William “Bill” Hecht.

(He is the staff editor for SED, Inc., a prestigious economics newsletter)

“1) He appeared to accept his role reluctantly as Commander and Chief, probably deferring to his generals more than he cared to.
2) He was a mediocre president by deed. As a symbol of possibility and empowerment for subordinate groups and for the democratic process, he stands out.
3) No. That war was planned and assembled by Rummy, Cheney, et al.
4) No, but he lost a chance to make some major changes in the banking system. Instead, no one went to jail and the banks are fewer, bigger, and stronger now.
5) ACA was best.
6) No.  Racial hatred is fueled by agitprop media. Since the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, hate speech and narrative are available hourly from talk (trash) radio and the Flow Of Xenophobia news channel.
7) He wanted to unify.  He wasn’t ruthless enough for the political system here.

8) He reminds me of Jimmy Carter in that he is well meaning, but seemed in over his head from early on.”



William Blum

(He left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer,because of his opposition to what the United States was doing in Vietnam. He then became one of the founders and editors of the Washington Free Press, the first “alternative” newspaper in the capital)

“Your questions are all hopelessly biased in favor of Obama.  Your poll is therefore useless. “Should Obama be blamed for inheriting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?”  Of course not.  He should be blamed for extending those wars for years, during which time thousands more — Americans and Iraqis and Afghans — lost their lives and the two countries suffered a great deal more damage and death.

Do you – duh! – not see your bias in this and other questions?”



Sebastian Sarbu.

(He is a military analyst and vice-president of National Academy of Security and Defense Planning. Member of American Diplomatic Mission for International Relations)

“Obama was a good president, but not the kind of president that is strong enough. He promoted a strong and usefull political advocacy on human right, global challenge of democracy and civil society involvment. President Barack Obama is the best president possible for this kind of historical epoch, with global changes in every field of society, economy and global ecosystem. The fundamental problem of his administration is the lead of political heritage of the fmr President George W. Bush Jr. who generated two wars with the consequences that we all know today. Mr. Barack Obama will enter United States history with legacy, the same as Martin Luther King Legacy.”


Claude Nougat. 

(Passionate traveller (80 countries+) 25 years experience in United Nations: project evaluation specialist; FAO Director for Europe/Central Asia)

“Obama is not yet out of office and nobody should discount what he might (or might not do) in his last year. Over here in Europe where I live, Obama is considered an excellent President, possibly one of the best the United States has had in the last 20 years. He hasn’t managed to do everything he’d promised he would do – notably shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison – but at every turn, Republicans in Congress have stopped him. And most recently, his efforts at gun control are being again thwarted. And America goes on unimpeded in its love affair…

In spite of this incredible, continuous and increasingly harsh opposition, Obama has still managed some notable achievements, chief among them the health care reform that brought insurance to millions of poor Americans – yet not causing any breakdown in the health care system nor a surge in prices nor a drop in employment. On the contrary, under Obama‘s watch, the economy has recovered and millions of jobs have been created.

In his State of the Union Address, Obama noted that polarization of political life had increased during his presidency, suggesting something should be done about it – possibly thus becoming the first President to ever publicly acknowledge such a thing. And it is definitely a sign of profound unease that the American political class, both Republicans and Democrats, should take seriously. Politicians need to consider what their role in society is. If they go on like this, the political system will break down as they increasingly look like know-nothing idiots…Which is why of course, so many people don’t even bother to vote anymore.”



Wayne Dunlap.

(The Dunlaps have been awarded Top Travel Blogger and Best Boomer Travel Bloggers to Follow and stories about their travel adventures and unique travel tips have appeared in the Frommer’s The Travel Show, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, The Christian Science Monitor, Entrepreneur Magazine, ABC News,Newsmax, EuroTravel, & SecondAct Magazines, radio,TV, and other media)

“People should be aware of the very slow recovery, large increase in welfare, and troubled economy during Obama‘s term:

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Allen Schmertzler.

(He is an award winning and published political artist specializing in figurative, narrative and caricatured interpretations of current events)

“On the question regarding qualifying and quantifying the presidency of Barack Obama, I will keep it simple. This President will rank extremely high as one amazing and ultimately beloved Presidents. Obama kept the drama machine on snooze, put the instant gratification culture on snooze, refused the immediate for the long term, kept a remarkably steady and consistent presence, and without question, he played a major role in ushering in change, change that demanded attention.

Books will be written, talking heads will talk, spin masters will spin, but the record, the facts, will speak louder than the rest, and the facts will live as a preponderance of evidence, that President Obama succeeded and even excelled. He did this despite taking on absolute determined Republican opposition from the very first day. Every “sky is falling” claim has been proven wrong.

Even just a few days ago, as the President delivered his last State of The Union under the nasty and ugly commentary from Republicans over captured U.S. military personnel by the iranians, the President must have know that not only the military but also the previously long held journalists were coming home, alive, again shattering the doomsayers predictions.

I am not saying that Obama‘s Presidency was even close to perfect. I am not saying there were no missed opportunities and or miscalculations. But when you measure his record, especially against the conditions he inherited, and especially against every claim by his political opposition, all of which lowered the threshold of expectations, America had the right President at the right time.

Please just mention one other person who put themselves forward as a potential candidate for President could have come close to delivering America to this state of our union. Presidents do not make the times. The times do not make the President. But, having a President that has magical alchemy to balance and read the world and deliver us better off than before is a cause for celebration. Only Nixon could have gone to China. Only Barack Obama could have gone to the long list of “forbiddens”  present at the time of his presidency. Closing Guantanamo remains, but so does another year.”



Robert A. Slayton. 

(Professor of History, Chapman University. Research Specialist in Housing, Chicago Urban League Author of seven books, including Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith)

“I would rate Baraka Obama in the “Very Good” or “Near Great” categories, with a major caveat of, “We’ll never know”.

On foreign policy I think he has been a nuanced hand, using violence when necessary, but not foolishly or lavishly.  And with a rare (for American presidents) sense of foreign cultures and how to appeal to them.

Domestically he has a number of significant achievements:  ending the 2008-2009 recession, the Affordable Care Act, saving the American auto industry, a booming economy (with mixed fortunes for various Americans), a progressive approach to immigration.

One other landmark:  he will be seen as the Jackie Robinson of American politics, the pioneer who broke through and restrained himself amidst attacks.

As to, “We’ll never know”:  Barack Obama has been the subject of more blind Congressional opposition than any other president.  Many others have had to work with hostile legislators, but not this kind of total, unyielding intransigence.  We’ll never know who he would have functioned—successfully or not—in a more normative environment.””



Mark Chapman. 

(A ripening cynic opposed to irresponsible corporatism and journalistic toadying. Focused mostly on Eastern Europe and the relationship between Russia and North America. Frequent columnist at Russia Insider)

“Although Barack Obama was not my President, I will not miss him as he leaves office, except that it means a successor who will likely also be a failure will arrive. I was very enthusiastic about his presidency at first, and hoped he would be able to achieve most or even all the things he promised. He did not actually achieve any of them, and the country is at least as divided and polarized as it was when he entered office if not more so.

I must reluctantly acknowledge that his critics were right, and he was mostly an empty suit who made eloquent speeches that ultimately did not mean enough to him for him to get serious about implementing the visions he described. I wouldn’t say his legacy is tainted so much as he does not really have a legacy, and he turned out to be just a placeholder as he carried on with George W. Bush’s agenda, whether willingly or because he did not have the spine to resist.

He was not specifically to blame for the banking crisis, but he did nothing to arrest the spendthrift policies and handed the banksters tons of free money to do with what they would. He will leave office with America deeper in debt than it was when he came in, and maybe he could not have done anything anyway because the debt has now reached such gargantuan proportions that there is no way the USA can ever balance the books without some sleight-of-hand which simply erases it as if it never existed.

His best moments were in his first term, when he tried to tear apart the Health Care system. His critics are right to deride the horrid plan he came up with, but that was the result of so many compromises with the Republicans that there is virtually nothing left of the original plan. He squandered his entire first term trying to make friends with the Republicans, and then lost his majority without having done a single useful thing with it. It went downhill from there.

He inherited the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but his efforts to disentangle America from them were mostly cosmetic fluff. He succumbed to the policy wonks who told him the USA must keep a military presence in the region or other forces would rush in to fill the vacuum, and he completely owns the debacle in Syria, in which the USA pretended to bomb ISIL while actually abetting its advances on Damascus, in the hope that it would unseat Assad.

Then the USA would swoop to the rescue and pick a new government it liked. Despite all the twaddle about Assad’s ‘Alawite Power Structure’, only three ministers in his cabinet are Alawites and there are many Sunnis. The Obama administration deliberately misunderstood and misrepresented the Syrian government because the American agenda demanded it be overthrown, so there was no use trying to deal with it constructively. Similarly, his economic war on Russia has been a disaster. He has had to backtrack on virtually every threat he ever made, after his boasting made him look twice as much of a fool when he eventually had to climb down.

If I had to sum him up in one sentence, it would be, “Barack Obama is a statesman like a shoehorn is a toothbrush.””



Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi.

(His research interests focus on the international relations, particularly with reference to the EU’s affairs, the United Nations affairs, the US foreign policy and prevention of conflict-studies. He contributed to the publications to the Daily Dawn (a leading English newspaper) and the Pakistan Observer (an Islamabad-based English daily)

“A-Q-1 A closer look at Obama’s boasted achievements of foreign policy issues will easily reveal that many of them will still be unfinished when he leaves office. As for the Americans,  the commander Obama seems to have adopted a cautious course. He did not encourage a war-mongering policy as his predecessor George W. Bush did during his tenure

But the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq Obama vowed to end when taking office in 2009.

A-Q-2 Assessing Obama’s both terms through the prism of the multiple tests, we can say that he is challenged on a number of them. The economy isn’t sputtering currently (though that could happen before November 2016), but per capita income has declined on his watch. It’s difficult to argue he has brought about any significant domestic accomplishment, in the nature of Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights legislation or Ronald Reagan’s new-direction tax policies.

One can argue, and Obama supporters often do, that it wasn’t his fault; the Republican Congress just wouldn’t play ball with him. But voters don’t parse these questions in such ways. For them, it’s no excuses; he either produced accomplishments or he didn’t. Obama didn’t. President Obama ranks 18th overall, but beneath the surface of the aggregate figures lurks evidence of significant ambivalence. For example, those who view Obama as one of the worst American presidents outnumber those who view him as one of the best by nearly a 3-1 margin. Similarly, nearly twice as many respondents view Obama as over-rated than do those who consider him under-rated. One area where there is significant expert consensus about the president, however, concerns how polarizing he is viewed as being – only George W. Bush was viewed as more a more polarizing president.

Next, Obama does not perform well on more specific dimensions of presidential greatness, often viewed as average or worse. For example, he is the midpoint in terms of both personal integrity and military skill (e.g., 10th of 19 in both categories), but falls to 11th when it comes to diplomatic skill and 13th with respect to legislative skill. Even so, when asked which president should be added as the fifth face of Mt Rushmore, Obama ties with James Madison as the 7thmost popular choice.

President Obama used a political spotlight he may never command to the same degree again to bring the nation’s focus to his legacy -– with a hope of reclaiming a spirit he long ago saw vanish.

Coming at a moment of national angst and anger, with a loud campaign raging to replace him, the president used his final State of the Union address to remind the nation of his achievements, even if many of those are less than popular.

He was calm in comparison to the overheated politics outside the House chamber. One of his last big speeches as president, though, will go down not for its unifying tones but for the challenges he offered for Americans to join him in his vision all over again, for posterity’s sake.

President Barack Obama called on the American people to “fix our politics” in his final State of the Union address. President John F. Kennedy’s domestic record was light, but his youth, glamour, religion, and halting steps towards civil rights made him a symbol of a country on the brink of historic change on many fronts. He’s still regularly picked as one of the country’s greatest modern presidents in polls.

“America has been through big changes before – wars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears,” Obama said. “We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the ‘dogmas of the quiet past.’ Instead we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people. And because we did – because we saw opportunity where others saw only peril – we emerged stronger and better than before.” He’s likely to occupy a middling position along with such presidents as Lyndon Johnson, the two Bushes, William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge. Of course history makes its own judgment in its own time, and it can’t be rushed. So we’ll have to wait on that. As for the voters, we’ll know how they feel about Obama’s second term come November of next year.

A-Q-3   By all reasonable calculations, he inherited the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan from junior Bush’s legacy. But the fact is that the Obama administration has not only delayed troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, but also sent more soldiers to Iraq.

A-Q-4 He should be no more be accountable for the Banking crisis. Yet the Obama government’s idea– to partner with the private sector to produce the public goods–seems challenging. An Obama government bank will direct these investments, making project decisions based on the merits of each project, not on politics. This approach has been a cornerstone of US foreign policy for several decades. In fact, our government-led reinvestment in America is modeled explicitly on international public banks and partnerships. However, although this foreign commercial policy is well-established with many successes, it has also been deservedly controversial and divisive.

A-Q-5 As for his worst policy in terms of foreign policy,  the use of ‘drone attacks’ has been the most negative one that undermined the very spirit of international law. Having promised “A New Beginning” for the United States and the Middle East, Obama turned out to see a more troubled Middle East — a fallen society, endless conflicts, countless refugees, rise of the Islamic State, and a neglected peace process. And as for his best foreign policy, he appears to have normalized the relations with both’ Iran and Cuba’ via his policy of ‘peace discourse’.

A-Q-6  No , he may not be responsible for this. President Obama said the type of racial discrimination found in Ferguson, Missouri, is not unique to that police department, and he cast law enforcement reform as a chief struggle for today’s civil rights movement.

Obama said improving civil rights and civil liberties with police is one of the areas that ‘requires collective action and mobilization’ 50 years after pivotal civil rights marches brought change to the country. 

The president made his first remarks about the Justice Department report of racial bias in Ferguson, which found officers routinely discriminating against blacks by using excessive force.

A-Q-7-“We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we are providing Americans the kind of help that they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” Obama said.

Obama continued: ”And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.”

Obama stated he wants to “advance a mission” in an effort to unify all Americans.

“One of the things that I’m going to be talking to my Cabinet about is how do we use all the tools available to us, not just legislation, in order to advance a mission that I think unifies all Americans,” Obama said. “The belief that everybody’s got to take responsibility, everybody’s got to work hard, but if you do, that you can support a family and meet the kinds of obligations that you have to yourself and your family, but also to your communities and your neighbors.”

He says he is “very pleased” that Congress has agreed on a $1 trillion budget measure and urges lawmakers to pass it promptly.

Obama made his remarks at the top of a meeting with his Cabinet secretaries, two weeks before he delivers an economy-focused State of the Union address. The meeting was part of a week devoted to the economy, including a trip to North Carolina Wednesday to promote a manufacturing innovation hub and a meeting Thursday with college presidents to discuss worker training .But factually seen, on many issues, he could not unify the Americans on the issue of his Iran nuclear deal, his Syria policy, his drone policy, and the US policy regarding the Syrian refugees’ crisis.

A-Q-8 Barack Obama seems to have been a US President who wielded a pragmatist approach on the foreign front; while a progressive and liberal approach on the domestic front.

The man who started the tenure of his presidency as a person who ardently believed in the audacity of hope, though the seven years of his presidency has demonstrated the truth that he has partially achieved his goals. Obama appears to be remembered as the future John F. Kennedy, but to glorify himself as a true successor of Kennedy, Obama had to do something more remarkable that could have possibly personified him in the  future course of history. Coming at a moment of national angst and anger, with a loud campaign raging to replace him, the president used his final State of the Union address to remind the nation of his achievements, even if many of those are less than popular.

He was calm in comparison to the overheated politics outside the House chamber. One of his last big speeches as president, though, will go down not for its unifying tones but for the challenges he offered for Americans to join him in his vision all over again, for posterity’s sake.”



Dale Yeager.

(He is the CEO of SERAPH and F.L.E.T.C trained Forensic Profiler and U.S. DOJ DOD Federal Law Enforcement SME / Instructor)

“1.  When Obama leaves office, will you miss him as Commander and Chief?

He is my President and I respect the office but no I will not miss him. He came to the presidency with the mentality of an academic and advocate. He failed to lead, he was a loner and he created massive division among the American people.

2. Was Barak Obama a good president? Did he do the best job possible considering the problems he faced?  Is his legacy tainted?

No he is one of the most troubling. He created a czar system of government and made decision unilaterally.

3. Should Obama be blamed for inheriting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

No, conflict has always been sadly a mainstay of world politics and as President he was required to protect the country and U.S. interests.

4. Should he be blamed for the Banking Crisis that really started in 1999 when Bill Clinton repealed the Glass Steagall Act that allowed banks to be free of Keynesian regulations?

Wow that’s a leap! Keynesian theory is why financial institutions created ‘new’ products that were high risk and led to the 2008 recession.

5. What was his best policy? What was his worst policy?

Race to the Top was his best. All of his military actions where suspect at best.

6. Is he responsible for sparking racial wars against police officers?

Yes. It started with his statements against police in the Henry Louis Gates Jr. case. He along with the AG encouraged NGOs and gave political power to radical extremists. I know this because I am an SME on Domestic Terrorism for the HIDTA program.

7. Did he unify Americans? Was he ever prepared to take on American politics?

No he divides all of us in greater ways than we were before. Even his own had issues with him. He was not prepared to be President.

8. In few sentences: What is your opinion of Barack Obama?

Charming, arrogant, disconnected and indecisive.”


Halyna Mokrushyna.

(Holds a doctorate in linguistics and MA degree in communication. She publishes in Counterpunch, Truthout, and  New Cold War on Ukrainian politics, history, and culture. She is also a contributing editor to the New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond and a founder of the Civic group for democracy in Ukraine)

“Barack Obama will have left a mixed record as the 44th President of the US. In his two terms in the Oval Office he achieved some of the plans for which he was in advance awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, in the first year of his presidency.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, announcing its decision, stressed Obama’s promotion of nuclear disarmament and fostering of a “new climate” in international diplomacy and cooperation between people, in particular reaching out to the Muslim world.

I think, not in the last place the Nobel committee was driven by the novel appearance in the Oval Office of a Black American, itself a huge achievement in a country, run by white Anglo-Saxon elite. Obama came in the office as a breath of fresh air, as hope for change. And he delivered on many of his promises, justifying, in my opinion, the Nobel Peace Prize (I was skeptical and puzzled how somebody can be awarded such an important recognition for actions yet to be completed).

Barack Obama does not come from wealthy and powerful American establishment. He worked his way to the highest echelons of American politics through hard works and studies. To me he represents an America of common people, a democratic America which should lead by example of being a great country of freedom and tolerance.

Bringing democracy on gunpoint of American weapons has always lead to disastrous results. Obama promised to end US military involvement in the Iraq, and he did. He continued the process of ending US combat operations in Afghanistan. He has been fighting the conservative powerful lobby for the introduction of measures to tighten control over arms selling and possession (I will never understand this American obsession with the right to own arms, not after so many tragic mass shootings in American schools and churches).

The biggest achievement of Obama internally is Obamacare, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which, in spite of criticism, proved to be effective. It increased the quality and affordability of health insurance and lowered the uninsured rate, especially among Hispanics, blacks and lower-income Americans (according to the latest Gallup data, nationwide the uninsured rate dropped to 11.4% in the second quarter of 2015 compared to 17.1% in the last quarter of 2013, while for Hispanics, for instance, this drop constituted 9,6%).

One of the big failures for Obama in foreign policy is the dramatic worsening of relations with Russia. Obama’s personal fundamental misunderstanding of Russia, coupled with the lack of real experts on Russia in his team led to the lowest level of relations between these two great countries since the Cold War. To list Russia as one of the biggest threats to the world, together with Ebola and terrorism is the worst possible blunder for a politician, especially for the president of the US. Russia should be an ally, not an enemy.

But then again, Obama is an American, to the last bone, and for him, as for any American, it is difficult to give up a conviction that Americans are the greatest nation on this planet and the only savior of the world. Luckily, he is wise enough not to destroy the world for the sake of implementing everywhere American hegemonic democracy.  His unexpected call to Putin on the Russian Old New Year Eve (January 13) is a hopeful sign of a coming thaw in Russian-American relations.”



Glauco D’Agostino.

(Architect, Scholar of political Islam. He played several roles in the public sector as (Ministry of Economy and Finance, Consortia for Industrialization, Development and Investment, Agency for Development, various public administrations among other great achievements)

“Quite naturally, it makes no sense to judge the work of a ruling politician as totally good or bad, especially if he’s the most influential man on Earth. Since I’m not a US citizen, I will avoid making judgments on the Administration domestic policy over the past seven years (Health Care Reform, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Wall Street Reform, enhancement of gays and lesbians conditions, nomination of the first Hispanic woman at the US Supreme Court), focusing, instead, on US role as the sole leading world power, and on the effects over regional arrangements, both designed and implemented by their major player, President Obama, in fact. I will leave aside, too, American parties propagandistic positions, completely aimed at the presidential campaign, and designed to deal with an internal public opinion notoriously not interested to address issues of broad international scope and castled on potential direct economic advantages that may arise to individuals from White House public policies.

As a general observation, I think Obama’s international attitude, even amid a thousand inconsistencies, has been marked by multilateralism and cooperation, reversing a trend imposed by his predecessor Bush, entirely addressed to determine a superpower volition, with no effort of inclusion and involvement (even of the allies) in Washington decision-making. It’s a reversal of a will for military intervention, which had, sure, cheer the lobbies of arms and had benefited the US in terms of GDP growth borne by the public purse, just the opposite of ideologically trumpeted liberal policies and a natural result whenever a government is aimed to solve inside economic problems through the war tool.

This theoretically positive consideration is still about Obama’s intentions, and certainly does not automatically absolve him with respect to the US foreign policy driving. An end-term assessment (which is not yet finalized) can be made on an eight-year work, and anyway on the basis of the expressed purposes achievement. And it seems to me Mr. Obama had these goals among others:

  • Fighting the effects of the “Great Recession” in global markets, which began in 2007-08 right in the USA;
  • Ending the US occupation in Iraq;
  • Destroying al-Qā’ida;
  • A new relationship with the Muslim world, till then having seen as an unyielding foe according to a “clash of civilizations”, theorized and skillfully exaggerated by the Project for the New American Century of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

In addition, multilateralism and cooperation concepts did offer a glimpse of opening to an appeasement policy with regard to Latin America and Asian-Pacific area.

Prior to check the effects (positive or negative, depending on points of view) induced by these policies and especially to detect who have brought back benefits, we must note down that:

  • The “Great Recession” (still shunned by China and India) has not resulted in destructive and generally destabilizing effects;
  • Iraq has regained its (however weak) institutions, formally not depending by the US;
  • Al-Qā’ida has been resized after the alleged bin Lādin’s elimination;
  • The way the Muslim world is perceived is considerably more conscious in terms of its religious and cultural role and its relevance at the international political level;
  • The Monroe Doctrine to Latin America has come to an end, as stated by Obama himself less than a year ago in Panama.

That said, the fact remains that:

  • The effects of market financial crisis are overcome in the US, but continue to deeply plague most of the European countries and still affect the resilience of Asian-Pacific countries. As a result, the international coordination Obama had legitimately headed using G-20 and IMF tools might correctly be regarded as insufficient;
  • Newly independent Iraq currently reflects gross errors made during and after its invasion by the “Western”-led coalition against Ṣaddām Ḥusayn (once our beloved ally), leaving the court to new Islamic State entity onset;
  • Radical Islam was certainly not only performed by bin Lādin’s pretensions (once our beloved ally), but a 150-years-long phenomenon, well rooted in the Middle East and North Africa history as a structured and complex thinking, not simply to be banned as a temporary and localized criminal event, but to be studied, understood, dealt with diplomatic arms, and only since to be possibly condemned and uprooted using methods just as violent. Obama had the merit of acknowledging that military intervention is not always conclusive in solving so deeply consolidated problems and that another strategy was appropriate. Analysts must keep wondering for the coming years (standing this approach unchanged in next President desire) how much this new strategy (if any) has worked, since results of foreign policy are gauged in future projections, certainly not on short-term basis just because an election campaign is opening;
  • Obama’s insufficient support to Islamic democracy attempts has generated ambivalent feelings in those who had believed it and had invested their political future in: on one side, moderate people have been disillusioned with, and realized that Western world rhetoric calls for democracy quickly crash (as usual!) facing geo-political and business logic, so, better to stay at home; on the other, the most extremist ones have begun thinking about the hypocrisy of the assumption that a Western model gives everyone the same opportunities, because they perceive a free election is not accepted when the winner is not the “right” one (see the examples of 1992 Algeria, 2006 Palestine, and, latest and dramatic, 2012 Egypt). Basically, their feeling is that the Western world is not convinced, yet, even under Obama’s ruling, that democracy is better (as it claims) than a relentless Sīsī-like dictatorship, which may ensure a docile submission and simultaneously an effective elimination of “dangerous” political forces. So, better to rely on an armed struggle.

However, in a wider perspective, there is no doubt that President Obama has gathered two clear achievements of his foreign policy by an opening to two countries deemed to be historical US opponents: the Islamic Republic of Iran and Cuba. It’s evident that no ideological reading can be given to this willingness to discuss, since the prior has a quasi-theocratic rule, and the latter a communist regime. Such an evidence may bother both rightists and leftists, conservatives and liberals, but their respective supporters should realize the obsolescence of their nineteenth-century outdated conceptions.

After having tightened sanctions against Iran earlier this decade, the US President has completely reversed his attitude, by inaugurating a slow diplomatic approach to Tehrān, on the one hand forcing the Āyatollāhs to a tougher control on their nuclear program, but on the other, thus allowing a back on stage of a undisputed player in the Middle Eastern dynamics, without which no credible framework is possible to give the institutions of those countries. This, too, upsets the current supporters of the ancient Cold War sides, since through this step Russia is fully part in the international equilibrium building, as it deserves by history and dimensions. Is this a mistake of US President? It depends on concept of world balance, and, as we already said, Obama bets on multilateralism. Something similar applies to Cuba, when right the agreement with Iran is leaving Castro, Maduro and every Latin American regimes averse to Washington the blunt weapon of any Tehrān-backed political blackmails.

Conversely, among the unresolved issues, Obama certainly may include:

  • The use of drones to perform extrajudicial executions targeting individuals, in full continuity with the Bush era and even up compared to the latter. Apart from moral considerations and violations of international law by a Nobel Prize for Peace, we must remember that such actions have resulted in recent years in a killing of hundreds of defenseless civilians reportedly involved in combat;
  • The issues of closing Guantánamo Bay detention camps, the infamous prison where, in defiance of Constitution and international laws, arbitrary detentions have been carried out and tortures and other atrocities alleged by the international community were perpetrated. Spite of Obama’s desire and efforts, this lager is still running;
  • The Afghanistan “affaire”, following a few months ago statement about an extension of US presence in the country, which de facto belied the Resolute Support Mission premises (even by the alleged White House authorization to the extension of US missions against the Tālibān), and also belied Obama’s promises during the election campaign leading him to the Presidency;
  • The Palestinian issue, actually ousted from the White House Agenda, a tribute to the special partnership US maintain with Israel and its lobbies, despite Obama-Netanyahu relationship has deteriorated due to the opening Washington made to Tehrān and because of a Jewish State obduracy in extending the illegal occupation plan in the territories under PNA jurisdiction. It should also be recalled that, under Obama’s Administration, the US has opposed the recognition of the State of Palestine, and vetoed any UN resolution granting it;
  • The issue of Africa as a whole. Following the 90’s disastrous military intervention in Somalia, with a complete disintegration of its State, the US military has been back in Africa by the operation against Mu‘ammar Qaddāfī, once more with a complete disintegration of his State, in the likeness of Somali and Iraqi situations. One would say, it’s a lack of ability to handle post-conflict situations after having bombed, and an incapacity to identify the bearing structures of a State other than the American’s, while claiming, however, of safeguarding the interests of “freed” people. This failure is not to be charged to Obama, it pretty looks a historical flaw of US administrations, completely biased towards a post-conflict reconstruction managing.

Ultimately, is Obama innocent or guilty?, capable or incapable? A Head of State of that relevance unlikely can get a unanimous opinion on his actions. Here we have tried to single out a few meaningful effects of his foreign policy. Historians will give the related verdict. In a year, a new President will decide whether to emulate or abhor his work, or, more, whether, as it seems fair and fateful, acting in continuity with the ambiguity typical of a great power!”



Jon Kofas.

(Retired Indiana University university professor. Academic Writing. International Political Economy – Fiction)

“I always believed that rating presidents is an inane exercise for many reasons including the burden of the impossible task of comparing a president from the early 19th century with one in the early 21st century under very different domestic political, economic, social conditions and developments in the international arena that impact the balance of power. How can anyone possibly compare Andrew Jackson with Lyndon Johnson, James Polk with George W. Bush, and Lincoln with Kennedy? This is a mystery best reserved for fiction rather than serious scholarship.

Presidents have to be judged on the merits of the effectiveness of their policies at the specific period in history and not across the span of time as though they governed at the same time as a future or a past president. Moreover, they have to be judged against the realities of the constraints of the political system and the Constitution, the economic and social structure, and of course the dominant culture and sub-cultures of the nation that are impossible to change for any president.

The absurd “political beauty contest” of rating presidents is more fitting for the media seeking to entice, manipulate, distract and brainwash the public by providing a superficial overview of presidents that often includes personal traits and “likeability factors” as though a candidate for president is a candidate for dating or going out to socialize with voters. Not that the cult of personality is anything new in politics or the exclusive domain of contemporary bourgeois politicians in America. However, having a candidate that “makes people feel good” so that the mass voters form a popular political base is really a key criteria for bourgeois politicians and it is what is expected of them by those who provide the financing to their campaigns.

Not to belabor the issue of people judging by appearances and falling for “image-making”, especially their leaders as Nicolo Machiavelli (The Prince) argued five centuries ago, but it is extremely rare that anything of substance is analyzed when it comes to rating presidents like beauty queens. When substantive issues are raised, they are simply a reflection of the person’s ideological orientation without full disclosure of criteria used to rate presidents by the individual doing the rating. Considering that more than half of US voters do not identify with either Republican or Democrat party, ranking presidents becomes just another intellectual exercise whose significance rests in the attempt to convince people that popularity sovereignty is at works when this is far from true.

History will always judge Obama from the prism of his race – the reality that he was the first African-American president in a country with a very long history of racism that only intensified under this president largely because of the socioeconomic polarization owing to the lingering effects of the Great Recession of 2008 and neoliberal policies, but also the deep institutional and cultural racism of America. Where Obama actually delivered anything more than the symbolic political and psychological satisfaction to people who believed a minority must have the opportunity to become president is another question addressed below. Beyond the race issue that will also be in the forefront of his legacy, the others are the economy and foreign policy.

The first issue is that Obama ran for president in 2008 when the Great Recession was the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Of course, he promised to revive the economy and gave the impression that he was the new FDR of the 21st century; an indication that he would undertake massive reforms rather than preserve the status quo. Whether he revived the economy on a sound basis for the duration, whether he revived finance capitalism and corporate capitalism to the detriment of the middle class and workers living standards is something that people can judge for themselves looking at statistics of declining living standards for the majority despite unemployment reaching 5% in 2015-2016.

The second issue is that Obama promised to change America’s image in the world after George W. Bush, a president ranking among the worst in history and who had sunk the nation in two wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) and the ‘war on terror’ that had contributed to a monumental budgetary deficit without any tangible results in terms of reducing jihadist activities globally and engendering greater stability in the Middle East. Obama came to office promising to create a positive image of America around the world, one that would not have the country as the most hated on the planet and one that would strive to restore leadership without the aggressive militarist baggage that Bush had created. He also promised to respect human rights, to put an end to war crimes that many governments and organizations had accused the US of committing, and to close down the Guantanamo prison where political prisoners were and still are kept. Whether any of this was achieved or we are right back where Obama started in 2008 in terms of terrorism and a tainted US image in the world is another issue we will analyze below.  

Arthur Schlesinger and the Criteria for judging presidents

In 1948, an election year that kept Harry Truman, the first Cold War president, in the White House, historian Arthur Schlesinger was the first scholar to conduct a poll of 55 colleagues to rate presidents on “performance”.  Making a reputation as a scholar of Andrew Jackson – the pro-slavery president of Indian removal policy fame – Schlesinger joined the Kennedy administration and provided his own criteria for ranking presidents, including: 1. “great presidents who were strong party men” like Jackson; 2. They confronted the Supreme Court (as did FDR), and 3. They aroused strong opposition as did Kennedy. One is immediately struck by the absence of key criteria appropriate for any democracy, namely, economic improvement for the majority of the people, maintaining peace, safeguarding civil rights and human rights, and improving social justice to achieve the ideal of a truly democratic society. None of these are included by Schlesinger or the vast majority of those ranking presidents since 1948.   

Instead of judging presidents by policy results impacting the lives of all people, Schlesinger and all of those endeavoring to do same since the late 1940s listed such things as dealing with “turning points in history” – regardless of the result benefiting the majority of the population or resulting to its detriment.  Although Schlesinger was molded by FDR’s New Deal when he was young, he came of age as a Truman Cold War Democrat who influenced the ideological orientation of American liberalism as expressed in the 1960s. Typical of an American scholar rating presidents on criteria of preserving and strengthening the system of government, Schlesinger simply assumed presidents ranking must be conducted from the perspective of the white male Anglo-Saxon elites.

a. Winning wars without considering the cost to society both short and long term;

b. Strengthening the economy and financial institutions geared to raise GDP but not necessarily closing the rich-poor economic gap;

c. Dealing with public corruption but not necessarily private sector corruption that went as unchecked or minimally regulated in the 19th as it is in the 21st century;

d. Unifying the party under strong consensus to mobilize popular support but not addressing the needs of the people who comprise the popular party base;

e. Imposing executive branch power over legislative and judicial to harmonize and rationalize capitalist interests, but not necessarily to provide a social safety net for the poor, women and minorities;

f. Confronting the political opposition to demonstrate Machiavellian leadership qualities for the sake of a “strong nation” but not for the improvement of citizens’ welfare.

In 2016 amid a climate of extreme right wing populist Republican presidential candidates trying to outdo one another on which one is more militarist and more in favor of strengthening corporate capital to the detriment of the majority, Schlesinger would be considered a left-wing liberal merely because he would be outspoken against the neo-Fascist orientation of the Republican Party as detrimental to forging a middle-of-the-road consensus. Nevertheless, Schlesinger remains the American bourgeois scholar icon who defined the criteria for rating presidents. Such criteria always takes  into account preserving the political economic and social status quo, no matter how detrimental to the welfare of its citizens. After all, Schlesinger supported the Bay of Pigs operation and the Vietnam War that were disasters by any one’s estimation, including his own.

Scholars who follow the Schlesinger model have no problem ranking presidents today on:

1. How well did the president conduct policy to fight terrorism, rather than how we can mitigate or eliminate terrorism by addressing its root causes that range from the Palestinian Question to repeated interventions in the Middle East with intent to destabilize and divide for the same of securing spheres of influence;

2. How well did the president help economic recovery based solely on GDP, stock market performance, and “official employment” criteria, rather than living standards improvements, upward social mobility, and strengthening the middle class and workers as the popular base of a democracy. (Unofficial is twice as high and part time and seasonal account for distortions in official stats);

3. How strong US defense is for the purpose of benefiting the military-industrial complex as Eisenhower warned more than half century ago, instead of how US foreign policy benefits its citizens;

4. How can we strengthen corporate welfare that entails massive transfer of income through the fiscal system and in subsidies at the local, state and federal levels, no matter the consequences to the social safety net, the public debt, and viability of the capitalist system?

If the sole criterion is how militarily strong has any given president made the country, then we could argue that this is no different than the criterion of a dictator. If the criterion how effective the president was in strengthening the economy without the benefits accruing across the broad population, then we could argue that the criteria ought to be same as for non-Western dictators in power to benefit themselves and a small circle of people backing them. After all, the top 1% according to the New York Timesdetermines fiscal policy to benefit itself. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/business/economy/for-the-wealthiest-private-tax-system-saves-them-billions.html?_r=0).  If the criterion is how effective is a president in mobilizing public support for political consensus to govern on behalf of the capitalist class while keeping a docile working class and middle class, then this ought to be fully disclosed as all other criteria.


1.     Overall, was Obama a Good President?


Judged on the Schlesinger criteria, Obama was an average president who held the status quo in tact at a critical time of the Great Recession that started under Bush and two wars that proved a foreign policy and economic disasters  During the 2008 presidential campaign, I argued on website of the World Association for International Studies (Stanford University) that people should be cautious about buying into the ‘Obama mystique’, that his presence was largely symbolic, intended to de-radicalize the masses and not substantive, that it was obvious his policies would not be very different than those of Bush who has the distinction of earning the rightful place of one of the worst American presidents.

Both Bush and Obama promised that bailout money in the trillions was necessary to save jobs and keep the economy going, presumably living standards steady. Taxpayer money went into banks and corporations but people still lost their jobs and suffered sharp drop in living standards, while the economy remains anemic. Bush was in office eight years and his gift to the world was two wars and $3.3 trillion in debt – 3.3% of GDP. After seven years in office, Obama continued the wars of the previous administration, started a new on in Libya and Syria, and added $3.3 trillion or 2.7% of GDP to the sovereign debt in his first three years alone. While Bush inherited a $3 trillion debt, Obama inherited $6.3 trillion debt and the Republican economic crisis. The debt Obama added technically belongs to his predecessor, although it was his decision to continue along the same fiscal and defense policy lines as his predecessor. He continued the policy of strengthening corporate welfare that only adds debt and weakens the middle class, as he continued militarist adventures, expanding them to Syria that benefit the defense industry at the expense of the people.

Could Obama be the president of the people as he presented himself? Considering the source of funding for Obama’s 2008 campaign, it is difficult to imagine this was the choice of the common man and woman. “Goldman Sachs donated nearly a million bucks to Obama. Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase donated nearly $1.5 million to the Obama campaign while Morgan Stanley pitched in over a half million dollars. When you break it out by individual companies, you find that employees of Goldman Sachs gave more to Obama than workers of any other employer. Goldman Sachs is followed by employees of the University of California, UBS, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, National Amusements, Lehman Brothers, Harvard and Google… Obama has a three- or four-to-one fund-raising advantage over McCain.” New York Times (July 1, 2008).

The US could have done worse with McCain and Romney who would have sunk the economy deeper in debt by providing even more corporate welfare gifts and lower tax brackets for the top 1%. In short, the people have the choice of who will be less reckless in foreign affairs and domestic policy that would make the majority even poorer. It is not a choice of which president will represent the workers and the middle class but which president will cause less damage because the system is such that it caters to the 1%.


2.     Obama, Terrorism, and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?


In his last state of the union, Obama boasted, “The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.” Historically, the US has had a bipartisan foreign policy, with differences on tactics, rather than goals. While the Republicans are generally blatant militarists insisting on unilateral foreign policy approach, Democrats like Obama will consider multilateralism once they have no choice as has been the case with Syria and Ukraine where interventionism just has not worked out as they envisioned.  Obama did not start the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and certainly not the war on terror. Nevertheless, he did not seek political solutions to crises, yielding to the militarist establishment. According to Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the results of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are as follows:

1.       Over 370,000 people have died due to direct war violence, and many more indirectly (The US Green Party estimate of Iraqis dead is one million)

  1. 210,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting at the hands of all parties to the conflict
  2. 7.6 million — the number of war refugees and displaced persons
  3. The US federal price tag for the Iraq war is about 4.4 trillion dollars
  4. The wars have been accompanied by violations of human rights and civil liberties, in the US and abroad
  5. The wars did not result in inclusive, transparent, and democratic governments in Iraq or Afghanistan.  (http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/)

In 2011 Congress had approved a total of $1.283 trillion for things such as military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and health care for veterans for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks. Of that amount, $806 billion was allocated to expenses for Iraq and $444 billion for Afghanistan and related expenses.http://247wallst.com/investing/2013/04/19/therealcostofterrorismfornationsbillionsandtrillions/#ixzz3xQlqHqET

These are the remarkable costs that militarism has delivered to America under both Bush and Obama, and this does not include money spent on Homeland Security that both Bush and Obama insist on maintaining because they made the war on terror a permanent fixture of US foreign and defense policy. According to one estimate, the US spends more than $100 billion annually on counter-terrorism, while the cost to the world economy is estimated in the trillions.   The war against “Muslim terrorism”–the ultimate specter and trap haunting US foreign policy – has expanded under Obama. Under Obama, there were operations across North Africa especially in Libya on the pretext of wanting to help “spread democracy”, when in fact the US was working toward the same goal as terrorists to bring down anti-Western regimes. The same was the case with Syria and Yemen. While Obama pulled troops out of hot spots, he expanded drone warfare that many governments and organizations have accused for killing innocent civilians that the US dismisses as “collateral damage”.

Obama had the opportunity to change the course of US foreign policy but he chose to continue along the same lines. He could have rejected using the war on terror as the pretext to perpetuate Pax Americana, and he could have chosen political solutions to crises as he ultimately did with Iran over the nuclear issue. His legacy will be that he maintained the foreign policy, defense policy and war on terror policy that Bush started, never addressing root causes of conflicts including the Palestinian Question and backing Saudi Arabia which has been behind jihadist terrorism for decades.  


3.     What was his best policy? What was his worst policy?


“Obamacare” (Affordable Care Act) is about his best achievement, as far as it goes, despite massive Republican opposition. Although a future administration may do away with Obamacare or water it down substantially as I believe will happen in the name of neoliberalism, health care was an issue that had been important for Democrats since the Clintons in the 1990s and it was Obama who managed to implement it.  He will also be remembered for trying to satisfy the socio-cultural agenda of the middle class by defending lifestyle choices such as gay marriage. To his credit, he held firm on women’s right to choose and funding of clinics providing services to women. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/25/obamalegacyscotustrade_n_7667946.html; http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/howpresidentobamaslegacywilldefine-2016-electionn451616

Obama would also like to be known for his environmental policy owing to the Paris climate agreement of December 2015. Compared with his Republican predecessors since Reagan, he at least held the line on the status quo rather than permitting further emissions that result in greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming.   However, the corporations committed to a “green economy” in which they see profits for the future and the low energy demand made it easier for Obama to push the green agenda Because the Republicans oppose the Paris Agreement and because it cannot become binding until 55 member states parties responsible for more than half of the world’s pollution have ratified it, there is serious doubt this will ever see the light of day in Obama’s lifetime. (http://www.nationaljournal.com/s/70708/obama-reaches-green-legacy-will-history-books-agree; http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/12/obama-speech-paris-climate-change-talks-deal-american-leadership)

The growing socioeconomic gap and downward social mobility owing to a fiscal system that favor the very wealthy is his greatest failure along with a militarist foreign policy disguised as “multilateral engagement” because of the deals with Iran and Cuba, and more recently “Metternich-style” negotiations to resolve the Syria impasse where ISIS reigns supreme. Although official unemployment is at 5%, living standards are continuing to decline for the majority of the middle class and workers saddled with debt. Even worse, the prospects of young people are very dim because even those coming out of college with a degree cannot find jobs in their own field and certainly not a good paying job. The land of opportunity is now the land of opportunism and Obama who did not create this phenomenon simply contributed to it instead of doing what he could to halt it.

The post-2008 recovery has been very weak because job creation came at the expense of low-wage jobs, including part time. One reason that January 2016 was one of the worst for Wall Street, which predicts economic trends, is because the US economy is consumer driven but the consumer is too deep in debt. WALMART closing 169 stores is indicative of low purchasing power of its customers who tend to be working class and lower middle class. When one looks at the map of closings, it is no surprise that they are throughout the south that is in fact the core of America’s “Third World” with a high concentration of poor. 


4.     Was Obama responsible for racial wars and police confrontations?


Of course Obama did not create racial wars and contrary to the right-wing media in the US he is hardly the cause for the divisions that exist in a society that has always been divided owing to class, race and ethnicity gaps the political regime and economy create. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-obama-legacy-project-1452643869

However, neither he nor his Justice Department also headed by a minority did anything about police shooting to kill, not injure at unarmed black youth in the inner cities of America. Obama did nothing about the unofficial torture inside jail cells as well as at the Homan Square facility where at least 3500 people, 82% of them black were detained without due process and often tortured. The US government knew of the link between Homan Square and Guantanamo as it knew of the deep racist culture in the police department, but it did nothing. The same is true for most of the US where institutional racist practices prevail in the criminal justice system.  (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/05/homan-square-chicago-thousands-detained)

What exactly has Obama done for Blacks? In 2013, the NAACP announced that Obama had done nothing to improve the condition of blacks. When we examine the statistics on the overall condition of the black community we find that in fact blacks are worse off now than they were under the right-wing Republican Bush-Cheney administration.


1.      Black home ownership has declined from 46 to 43% under Obama who had no problem providing hundreds of billions in bank and corporate bailouts and corporate subsidies.

2.      Black-white income gap has increased and the median income stands at about $19,000. In absolute terms, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household.” According to FORBES, a typical white family enjoys 16 times the wealth of a typical black family. While income for whites fell 1% from 2010 to 2013, it fell 9% for blacks.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2015/03/26/theracialwealthgapwhyatypicalwhitehouseholdhas-16-timesthewealthofablackone/#2715e4857a0b4fbed7cb6c5b

3.      Black poverty is at around 28% in 2012, and black children suffer poverty rates are four times higher than white children. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/07/14/black-child-poverty-rate-holds-steady-even-as-other-groups-see-declines/

More than half of all people in Black families (54.9%) and 70% of people in Black families headed by single mothers were living in poverty in 1959.  Black poverty rates reached their lowest levels in 2000 (38.6% and 21.2% respectively) just before the dot com bubble burst of 2000. Black poverty rates have beenslowly increasing since reaching 25.7% for all people in Black families and 41.2% for people in Black families headed by single mothers.”http://blackdemographics.com/households/poverty/

4.      Black unemployment historically has averaged about double to that of whites. Obama has done nothing to reverse this trend, as blacks continue to dominate in low-skill and low-wage jobs. Blacks have seen few gains from the “Obama recovery”.  It must be stressed that the annual growth rate under Obama has averaged 2.24% in comparison with 3.97% in all economic recoveries since the 1960s. In such an anemic climate black unemployment is twice that of the general population. While official unemployment if at 5%, it is at 23% for blacks. Black male unemployment for 18 to 34 years of age runs at 43%.  What can Obama do about this in a free enterprise economy where neoliberal thinking prevails? Not much and that is exactly what he has done, which is why we have the statistics I have listed above.http://www.ibtimes.com/blackunemploymentrate-2015-bettereconomyafricanamericansseeminimalgains-1837870

While Obama did not create any of the institutional and structural or cultural problems confronting blacks, he has done nothing to address them other than going on TV and decrying racism and inequality. That is nice, but Lyndon Johnson did the same thing and then he at least followed up with some measures to back up the liberal apologetic rhetoric.   


5.     Was Obama prepared for the Presidency and did he unify the country?


The assumption is that to become president one must hold some high public office. However, we have examples of presidents who held such high offices but they were disasters because of policies they followed. Besides, the president surrounds himself with an administration of people that run various departments in accordance with the considerable input of lobbyists who literally write legislation to benefit their corporate clients. Obama’s administration reflected what corporate America wanted, just as those administrations of his predecessors. The administration team is imposed upon the president by various powerful interest groups, mainly Wall Street favorites. The institution of the presidency is already captive to such interests no matter who sits in the Oval Office. The only choice is whether to strengthen the energy sector, vs. high tech sector, banking vs. traditional manufacturing, etc.

The issue of “unifying” for the Democrat party financial backers was really one of “de-radicalizing” the disgruntled workers and middle class after eight years of Bush, and co-opting the masses in the same manner as FDR when he too inherited a major economic crisis that could have polarized American society. According to public opinion polls, Obama’s popularity is much higher at roughly 50/50 split in approval/disapproval in comparison to Bush at roughly 65% disapproval and 35% approval after seven years in office. (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/obama_bush_first_term_job_approval.html)

Obama’s major achievement was that he managed to protect and preserve the neoliberal establishment with predominantly Clinton administration individuals representing Wall Street. Neo-corporatism under Obama reached new levels. This is because he is black and managed to appeal to women, minorities and gay-rights supporters. These voters saw him as their president, regardless of his mainstream policies in the domains of foreign affairs, economic, fiscal and monetary policy as well as labor-management relations that continued to deteriorate to the point of collective bargaining coming under serious threat from the Supreme Court.  While Obama essentially served traditional interests as his predecessors, he managed to include people who otherwise felt disenfranchised. This does not mean that there were not the extreme right wingers dominating the media constantly complaining that he was not sufficiently militarist and sufficiently supportive of corporate welfare and neo-liberalism like his predecessor Bush.


6.     What will be Obama’s lasting legacy?

Beyond the color of his skin and its symbolism in a country with a long history of racism imbedded in its institutions and culture, Obama was a restorative president who upheld neoliberal status quo and militarism with some modifications on health care reform, personal lifestyle choice issues, and a commitment to restore some regulations to preserve the pluralistic society he inherited. His own and Democrat rhetoric aside about achievements that are really disasters such as the war on terror, the bottom line is that terrorism, as the State Department defines it, has increased under Obama largely because of policies the administration pursued resulting in feeding militant Muslims throughout the world.

US involvement in Libya and Syria where indirect collaboration with jihadists manifested the absurd contradictions of US foreign policy turned out to be an unmitigated disaster by any measure one wishes to use. Providing Israel with military aid in August 2014, with Democrats voting in favor, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, amid Tel Aviv’s bombing of Gaza where children and women fell victims is a reality from which no rhetoric can wash away as part of the Obama legacy. The US policy of Israel regardless of its crimes against the Palestinians, and backing Saudi Arabia in its various foreign policy disasters intended to weaken Iran and Russia have also backfired. If this was the kind of America Obama had promised in 2008 running against John McCain, would he still have won the race to the White House?

US involvement in Ukraine was equally disastrous and it yielded absolutely no benefit for the US other than to tighten the NATO containment policy around Russia. In a public opinion poll in March 2014, only 18% of Americans said that the US ought to become involved in Ukraine; this despite massive media propaganda trying to convince people otherwise. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/03/ukraine-poll_n_4891224.html) The irony is that Obama and the Democrats only disagree with their Republican counterparts on foreign policy and defense policy tactics rather than goals that are to maintain Pax Americana no matter the cost to the majority of the people at home and of course at the receiving end overseas.

It is pointless to judge the president of the US on the basis of Socialist expectations because the institution exists to prevent Socialism and strengthen capitalism. One can only judge the president within the perimeters of the existing system. However, if a president, and this includes Obama, runs campaign promises of broadening the democratic system to engender more social justice, human rights, economic and judicial equality for all people, but then fails to deliver on every single promise, then analysts have every right to emphasize the failure of the president based on his broken promises intended to strengthen the system by deceiving voters and de-radicalizing them as Obama did. In short, even if a president wanted to make systemic changes to achieve some type of ideal Jeffersonian democracy, it is simply impossible under the existing social order.  In September 2013, Obama admitted that the top 1% grabbed 95% of all new income, leaving just 5% of the remaining for the entire population? (http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/15/news/economy/income-inequality-obama/;

The road to downward socioeconomic mobility and rising aspects of authoritarianism in America continued under Obama and this is his legacy as historians of the future will confirm. When the National Archives and the future Obama presidential library declassify documents and make them available to researchers in the middle of the this century, we will have a clearer picture of this administration. Of course, the performance of the presidents who follow Obama will have an impact on how his rankings will evolve, as I suspect that the US will be going through some very difficult times in this century because socioeconomic and political polarization combined with militarist adventures will continue to weaken America.”


Jaime Ortega-Simo.

(The Daily Journalist president and founder) 

Barack Obama overall has halt the union of the United States in defying history into a progressist agenda. I am pro-grating support to gay cuples, giving greater civil rights for women and helping the lower end of America. However, that is not what defines great presidents and Obama has extended his powers to breakup and divide the nation by using certain situations to ignite greater austerity among Americans with his self-centered decision making. This is how I will remeber Obama, and I am no republican!

  • He never incarcerated the banking CEO’s, who he accused of corruption for their responsiblity in the 2008 credit crisis. Although ultimately the crisis layed on people’s selfishness in signing such risky mortgages, the bankers corrupted proprietary trading with heavy lobbying and pocketed a lot of money from tax payers.
  • He was against lobbying and promised to end it, but lobbist are still alive as the hallmark of American liberal bureaucracy.
  • The recovery of the economy is mostly thanks to the boom in conservative states in South and South Western United States and the consequence of state policies undermining federal intervention. To name a few cities backed by federal utopias; Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago (Obama’s hometown) have been declared officially bankrupted, thus the massive migration of Midwesterners and East Coasters to western and southern US.
  • The current relationship between Joint Chiefs of Staffs and the Obama Administration has damaged the military’s perception of the political class as arrogant – specially the Democratic Party – consequently such action won’t pan out well for liberals in the future during a possible financial collapse.
  • Obama’s administration has fired more generals than any other president in history. Since Dave Petraeus, the dawn of strategic warfare has changed into diplomatic assumptions without historical basis to ultimately self-eagerly help Obama’s legacy as ‘the legendary’ diplomat in US history who solved all world problems.
  • The Arab Spring was sponsored by Hillary’s progressive assumptions of the ME, during Obama’s presidency. The results are the dried and sectarian wood-logs of radical Islamism fueling the expansion of ISIL.
  • Benghazi!
  • I am no conspiracy theorist, but till this day, I am in doubt whether or not Bin Laden died in operation Geronimo or years before the operation ever took place. The whole scenario just lacks overall credibility.
  • Weakest president in American foreign policy to ever exist. Such weakness has given occasion for regional juggernauts like Russia and China to permeate their military might in the ME, and the Pacific Rim.
  • Since Obama assumed power statistics show that racism has hit a record peak. The real evidence of such rise does not come from polls, but by looking at social media.
  • Obama has done nothing to help Black America:


  • 25% of black households live below the poverty line as compared to eight percent for white households.
  • One out of three black children lives in poverty.
  • Blacks are twice as likely as whites to be unemployed.
  • Blacks earn $13,000 less per year than their white counterparts.
  • The unemployment rate of African Americans has consistently been twice as high as for whites over the last 50 years.
  • For every $100 in wealth of a white household, the black household only has $6 in wealth.


  • Obama has jeopardized the reputation of good police officers across the nation by medling with the media’s progressive hype, mixing police action with racism in America. Media networks to gain more audience have used Obama to further scope the problem into a never ending cycle of crime vs cops’ vs racism. Statistics show that most police officers base their suspicion, not on race, but behavior: Gangs, illegal narcotics, poor education and family violence are precursors for greater policing!
  • African-Americans proportionally have the highest number of crime rates in America per-capita.
  • Prisons have swelled. Violent inmates, waste tax payer money like never before and are conceded more rights in progressive states that keep collecting higher taxes.
  • Obama’s last four year budgets have help shut down operational military bases in strategical sections across the globe, weakening American defense systems to protect the critical infrastructure.
  • The rise of conspiracy theories among ordinary people has been more fueled during Obama’s administration than the Bush administration.
  • The refugee crisis will be one to remember.
  • The Arab League is mostly against pro-Obama; even though, the president has never once said the words ‘radical Islam’ in public — that says something
  • Ultimately the ‘not so surprising’ rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in their respective parties, comes from the public sphere negative perception of Obama’s domestic and foreign policy. Obama was the last politician to gain credibility among voters considering he labelled himself as America’s last “hope”.
  • More than ever before American’s are divided.

What Next?

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