Obama: A great president or a sell-out?

Those of us who were there at the 2008 election – and who worked hard for Obama to win – remember Hope and Change.


Barack Obama has been called the greatest President of their lifetimes by 44 percent of Americans.  “In general, the age of respondents was highly correlated with their responses. A majority of Millenials mentioned Obama at 62% — a higher number than any other generation. Reagan, on the other hand, was the most common answer among the Baby Boomer and Silent generations.

“The comparatively higher popularity of recent presidents is likely due to changing demographics, since the question asked respondents for presidents during their lifetimes. For example, only about a tenth of adults named John F. Kennedy — but that number is around a quarter for those who were alive to see his presidency.”

But in recent weeks a growing number of voters have begun to attack Obama as being something of a fraud.   A sell-out to Wall Street.  Certainly, that seems to be the view of many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

If you look back at the presidents we’ve had since John F. Kennedy, you can understand why Obama ranks so high. Trump and the two Bushes are terrible.  Carter has been wonderful out of office but he was not good in office. Ford is forgettable. Clinton was impeached and made some bad policy choices.  Nixon was also impeached.  Reagan suffered from dementia and basically opened the floodgates to Wall Street taking over.  Kennedy was slimed by his sexual desires.  Johnson achieved much although his legacy was killed by the Vietnam War.

We think positively of Obama because he got us Obamacare.  We forget that at that very moment Americans were ready for the sort of Medicare for All that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are promoting now.  In his first two years as President, Obama had Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, but he wasn’t tough in the way Johnson was and compromised over things that he didn’t need to give away.

“Measured in sheer legislative tonnage, what Obama got done in his first two years is stunning. Health care reform. The takeover and turnaround of the auto industry. The biggest economic stimulus in history. Sweeping new regulations of Wall Street. A tough new set of consumer protections on the credit card industry. A vast expansion of national service. Net neutrality. The greatest increase in wilderness protection in fifteen years. A revolutionary reform to student aid. Signing the New START treaty with Russia. The ending of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“Even over the past year, when he was bogged down in budget fights with the Tea Party-controlled GOP House, Obama still managed to squeeze out a few domestic policy victories, including a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction deal and the most sweeping overhaul of food safety laws in more than seventy years. More impressively, on the foreign policy front, he ended the war in Iraq, began the drawdown in Afghanistan, helped to oust Gaddafi in Libya and usher out Mubarak in Egypt, orchestrated new military and commercial alliances as a hedge against China, and tightened sanctions against Iran over its nukes.

“Oh, and he shifted counterterrorism strategies to target Osama bin Laden and then ordered the risky raid that killed him.

“That Obama has done all this while also steering the country out of what might have been a second Great Depression would seem to have made him already, just three years into his first term, a serious candidate for greatness. (See Obama’s Top 50 Accomplishments.)

“And yet a solid majority of Americans nevertheless thinks the president has not accomplished much. Why? There are plenty of possible explanations. The most obvious is the economy. People are measuring Obama’s actions against the actual conditions of their lives and livelihoods, which, over the past three years, have not gotten materially better. He failed miserably at his grandiose promise to change the culture of Washington (see “Clinton’s Third Term“). His highest-profile legislative accomplishments were object lessons in the ugly side of compromise. In negotiations, he came off to Democrats as naïvely trusting, and to Republicans as obstinately partisan, leaving the impression that he could have achieved more if only he had been less conciliatory—or more so, depending on your point of view. And for such an obviously gifted orator, he has been surprisingly inept at explaining to average Americans what he’s fighting for or trumpeting what he’s achieved.

“In short, when judging Obama’s record so far, conservatives measure him against their fears, liberals against their hopes, and the rest of us against our pocketbooks. But if you measure Obama against other presidents—arguably the more relevant yardstick—a couple of things come to light. Speaking again in terms of sheer tonnage, Obama has gotten more done than any president since LBJ.”

On the other hand, he loaded his administration with bankers and Wall Streeters.  He increased his personal fortune from $1.3 million when he entered office to $40 million two years after he left office.  https://www.businessinsider.com/barack-obama-michelle-obama-net-worth-2018-7 And most recently he has reportedly been willing to oppose publically Bernie Sanders as Democratic Party nominee.  

Those of us who were there at the 2008 election – and who worked hard for Obama to win – remember Hope and Change.  We were coming off 8 years of George W. Bush, who at the time was considered by many as one of our worst Presidents.  (We didn’t anticipate Trump).  We were amazed at the 2008 election outcome, which gave Democrats the Presidency, House and Senate, not to mention the first black president in American history.  In 2009 the House was 257 Democratic to 178 Republican.  The Senate was 57 Democratic plus 2 independents who voted mostly Democratic against 41 Republicans.  (President Johnson had 258 Democrats plus one independent Democrat against 176 Republicans.  His Senate was 66 to 34 Democratic).  Unlike Johnson, Obama did not have “absolute control” of the Senate, but he had a strong majority, which was why we expected more of him.

What we expect of him now is to sit back, be quiet, and not undercut the progressives, who are trying to carry out the program which he had originally espoused.  We’re sorry, Obama, but to do that we need to oppose the corporations whose wishes you carried out.  And that’s too bad, because what we progressives want is very much what FDR advocated in the Second Bill of Rights.  The corporations have far too much money and power now, and you’re going to be a traitor to Hope and Change if you come in and undercut us. We need to band together to take back our country, defeat climate change, and really become the great country that Trump said we could be.


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