As he heads out of office today, talking heads are wondering what President Obama's "legacy" will be. It's important for Presidents to have "legacies"--although I would be hard pressed to tell you what the legacies of Chester A Arthur, Franklin Pierce and Benjamin Harrison may have been.
Obviously, President Obama's "legacy" was going to be the Affordable Care Act. It was going to save families $5000 a year and set the US on the path to Socialized Medicine. But then the sign up process didn't work very well. And then far fewer young, healthy people signed up for coverage than everyone expected. And then insurance providers dropped out of the program--giving people fewer choices. And then in Obama's final few months in office, premiums skyrocketed across the country. And now Congressional Republicans are working to completely dismantle "ObamaCare".
Then President Obama's "legacy" was going to be improved race relations in America. African-Americans and other minorities were going to be "empowered" and the government was going to ensure equality for all. But then the "birther movement" started. And then police officers of all races started shooting unarmed men. And then juries acquitted those officers. And then there was rioting and protests in the streets. And then white supremacists openly endorsed a Presidential candidate--and that candidate actually won.
Then President Obama's "legacy" was going to a "reset" in our relationship with Russia. Vladamir Putin would be brought to heel by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the threat of Russian influence in Europe would be reduced. But then Russian-backed rebels invaded Ukraine. And then they shot down a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet with Russian-provided missles. And then Russia started its own air campaign in Syria killing not only members of ISIS--but also American-backed rebels. And then a Russian phishing scam tricked Clinton Campaign advisor John Podesta into giving up his email access--allowing hackers to provide Wikileaks with all of the details on how the Democratic National Committee did all it could to keep Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination. And then the Russians worked closely with the Donald Trump campaign to assist his victory.
Then President Obama's "legacy" was going to be killing Osama Bin Laden, destroying Al Qaeda and ending US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. But then ISIS rose up and took Al Qaeda's place in trying to return Western Society to the Stone Age. And they took over parts of Syria--leading to a devastating three-way civil war. And then those refugees overwhelmed Europe. And then ISIS-aligned terrorists attacked Brussels, Paris (twice), Orlando, San Bernadino, Fort Lauderdale and multiple other places around the world.
So what then will be the "Obama Legacy"? I would say that his "legacy" actually begins today--with the swearing in of Donald Trump as President. Obama changed the way we look at qualifications for President. He was a first-term Senator from Illinois who had previously served seven years in the Illinois State Senate and before that was a part-time teacher and the ambiguous "community organizer". Relatively little political experience for someone elected to the most powerful position in the world. But Obama made it okay for Americans to vote for someone just because he was "cool" or "different"--not because he was the "most qualified for the job". And that voting experience begat the political neophyte Trump--who beat a woman President Obama called "the most-qualified person to ever run for President" (after saying she was not ready to be President while running against her 8-years before). Welcome to the age of the "Celebrity President"--the real Obama "legacy".