1/4/17 My interview with Metro World News on the Obama legacy:
Q: How would you describe Obama’s legacy?
Q: What are his major achievements?
On the economic front, Obama secured passage of a $1 trillion stimulus bill, rescued the auto industry, and adopted major reforms of banking and finance. Unemployment in the US fell from over 10 percent in his first year in office to under 5 percent in his last year. Despite severe criticism from Republicans, the Affordable Care Act helped 20 million Americans gain health insurance and slowed rising health care costs. Internationally, Obama negotiated an agreement to contain Iran’s nuclear program and committed the US to the Paris accord on climate change.
Q: And biggest failures?
Obama will be criticized for not doing more in Syria. He failed to remove the Assad regime, as he once pledged to do, and stem the flow of refugees, yielding the initiative to Russian President Putin, who took a brutal approach to support Assad. Domestically, the Democratic Party under Obama suffered enormous losses during his two terms, including both houses of Congress, two-thirds of state governors, and most state legislatures. Because of these defeats, Obama had to resort to executive orders in his second term to achieve policy goals in such areas as immigration reform and environmental protection. Most of these directives were blocked by the courts or will be overturned by Trump.
Q: What are the promises Obama was not able to keep?
Obama was unable to close down the Guantanamo prison, though most of the inmates have been transferred. His soaring rhetoric aside, he did little to promote civil liberties, building upon the post-9/11 anti-terrorist actions of his predecessor. Drone strikes replaced the use of combat troops, and US involvement to defeat ISIS intensified. By his own admission, Obama was unable to reduce partisan polarization in Washington. Racial conflict increased, particularly over police violence, leading to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and subsequent white backlash. Obama’s gun control proposals hit a brick wall in Congress. The rise of the Trump and Bernie Sanders candidacies was evidence that Obama had not done enough to rebuild the white working class or reduce economic inequality. His support of free trade met with considerable resistance and is now a dead issue in the US.
Q: In your opinion, has his presidency served U.S. for good or for bad?
In my view, Obama will be regarded among the top ten US presidents. The US made considerable progress economically and socially and Obama himself conducted his presidency with intelligence, sensitivity, and integrity.
Q: And for the world?
The US engaged fully in major global issues, including climate change, nuclear nonproliferation, and trade. Obama succeeded in enhancing the stature of the US internationally, though the rise of nationalist and nativist movements in Europe and the US represents a significant challenge to Obama’s globalist agenda.
Q: What to expect in the future? Do you think his legacy will be destroyed by Trump? Why yes/no?