The Obama incumbency is coming to an end. The strategies and ideology of this president have befuddled many Americas over the last eight years. Ultimately voters demanded a change from the misdirection and indecisiveness of Obama rule. This in large part resulted in the defeat of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
Being the first black president in America carried great responsibilities. Even those of us who voted for his opponent in 2008 were energized by the hope of greater racial harmony. We expected African Americans to rally around this modern day hero and finally find equal footing with other Americans.
Unfortunately it did not work out this way. Barack Obama did not keep his promises and blacks now are more disenfranchised than when he first took office. Many of us are asking why the dream of equality and comity was elusive even as an African American was living and governing in the White House.
More broadly the Obama administration has been chock full of controversy, and now the president’s legacy is being attacked by opponents that are anxious to dismantle his signature achievements. Nothing can erase the fact that this president was not able to achieve his goals, notwithstanding rhetoric to the contrary. It might be because he was more concerned with his legacy than anything else.
Obama bashed his opponents and anyone who questioned his judgment and overblown authority. Obama failed to realize that the ability to compromise is critical to achieving success as president. He thought he could make every decision and ignore the centuries old traditions of political horse-trading in this country.
The president’s apologists will likely refute this characterization of the man. But his record of failures and missteps speaks for itself. This essay will unveil ten of the most egregious errors during the Obama years. I suspect historians will not be kind to this man.
- Obamacare. The problems with Obama’s health care initiative began shortly after his inauguration and set the political tone for his entire presidency. With total control of Congress, including a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the new president enacted new laws that were expected to lead to universal health care in America. He did this without one vote of support from the opposition, something Republican legislators resent to this day.
If the plan had been well designed and more thoughtful it might have been one of the greatest legislative initiatives in the history of the country. Millions of people would have received health care insurance, even those who could not afford to pay anything for it. In fact millions did receive health insurance, but many of those who pay all or part of the premiums have been extremely unhappy with the benefits, the costs and the inflexibility of the program.
The law was ramrodded through Congress without extensive debate and no input from the other side of the aisle. Obamacare was not well crafted and has been an albatross around the taxpayers’ necks since its inception. Even Democrats acknowledge that many aspects of it must be changed. Most important is the fact that it is extraordinarily expensive and a lose leader for all the insurance companies affiliated with the entitlement while those paying are subject to escalating premiums each year. [Note: To be clear Obamacare has provided coverage to those who could not afford to pay for it. The program is a great and warranted entitlement for poor people.]
It was clear from the start that Obamacare was destined to fail. In fact it was in large part responsible for Democrats losing control of Congress during Obama’s tenure.
- Democrats lost elections across the country while Obama was president. As indicated earlier, Democrats lost control of both houses during Obama’s eight years. Additionally state and local elections resulted in greater Republican dominance at every level of government. Ultimately Obama was responsible for the ascension of Donald Trump who recognized that Democrat policies were not meeting the needs of many Americans.
- Israel. Since World War II Israel has been America’s most dependable ally in the Middle East. Every previous president supported the Jewish State unequivocally. Its plight to find peace has been a bumpy one often leading to vicious reprisals by Arab nations in the region.
Obama gave up on Israel, an act that enraged Jews in the U.S. and around the world. The president could not convince Israeli leadership to forego its security in a misguided attempt to create a legacy for himself.
In the last days of his tenure Obama and John Kerry admonished Israel and did not support it at the United Nations where the Security Council passed a resolution against Israeli settlements in disputed territories that the U.S. could have vetoed.
- Iran. Obama, in effect, endorsed the development of a nuclear weapon by Iran, one of our most despised enemies. Allowing Iran to produce a bomb in the near future defied all reason resulting in great anxiety among Iran’s neighbors including Israel and the Sunni states.
How could the U.S. hand over nuclear weapons to a mortal enemy? President-elect Trump has promised to rip up the Iran agreement and prevent Iran from developing a bomb that will upset the balance of power in the region.
- The line in the sand. Obama threatened to attack Syria a few years ago if it used weapons of mass destruction against its citizens. Syria in fact defied the U.S. and used WMDs, and the U.S. did not respond. At that moment America became a paper tiger. Our enemies were emboldened by our president’s reticence relating to Syria’s crimes against humanity. This has been followed by unchecked Russian aggression in Crimea and marked increases in terrorist activity across the globe.
- Withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East. Obama promised to end U.S. occupation in the region. Our continued presence has antagonized all Arab nations and encouraged terrorist groups such as ISIS to continue their murderous ways. Obama chose the only path that made no sense- an ineffective, minor and inconsequential presence that provided no support to law-abiding regimes in the region.
- U.S. as an ally. The U.S. is no longer a trusted ally to the rest of the world. Leaders of all nations no longer believe that America will live up to its commitments. “Leading from behind” and withdrawal under duress has weakened our nation’s ability to guide other countries.
- Lies and distortions. Incredibly the Obama administration has never taken responsibility for any of its missteps. Every bone-headed decision it has made was pinned on someone other than our commander-in-chief. From the start Obama saw himself as a newly minted Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He tried to be a wartime president and lost his backbone. He tried to apply progressive ideas to spark our economy and failed. He spent money indiscriminately without success and ultimately doubled our national debt to $20 trillion.
- Desecrating our Constitution. Obama has ignored the Constitution by repeatedly usurping powers that belong to Congress. His attempts to circumvent Congress’ authority with mandates and regulations have made a mockery of our democratic system.
- Class warfare. Many affluent Americans have been wondering why it was necessary for Obama to defile the most successful among us. The constant chant of “paying their fare share” has enraged a group of people that in fact pay the lion’s share of taxes in the country while accounting for a very small percentage of the population. Inspiring class warfare to ingratiate his standing with the 99% has been a tragedy for the country causing massive ill will among Americans.
There are many other issues that have also hurt the performance of Barack Obama. He’s a failed president whose legacy will be that he was unable to effectively govern a democratic country. Many Americans are happy to see him go.