Obama's Legacy

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
In 2016 my thought was that his legacy was Trump and so ultimately it has to be considered a failure. But all political (maybe just all) careers end in failure right?
Shane Warne's career ended with like, five wickets including the last ball of the game or something. Some people write their own scripts. Then he had a fling with Elizabeth Hurley.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
What's really striking about Obama is what a polished performer he is. He's so good at playing the president it makes your paranoia cells start fluttering. This is some kind of plant! He's an actor!
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
one of the most ineffectual, embarrassing, maybe even disastrous presidencies of the modern era, yah?
ineffectual certainly. the level of "disaster" relative to other presidencies is less clear, and should be put in context.

his most disastrous decision was clearly the response to the foreclosure crisis following 2008. it staved off the worst immediate crisis, but beyond that it was 100% save the banks at all costs, refuse to hold them accountable in anyway, homeowners can go fuck themselves. his relative inaction wrt the overwhelming monopolization trend - tech, pharma, airlines, telecom, etc - was also terrible for both workers and consumers, tho obv good for the companies involved. his economic legacy is stagnant wages and huge numbers of temporary or part-time jobs combined with large corporate profits and an endless bull market. in that sense he really does "lead to Trump" - the loss of the Rust Belt, working-class ppl feeling, with good reason, unrepresented and left behind, primed for someone whose message is taking the country back from the elites.

but you also can't blame him alone for that. he didn't create the financial crisis, and he was just carrying on 30 years of the U.S. pursuing neoliberal economic policy, and nearly as long a stretch of the Democrats actively abandoning working-class ppl and issues. the Clinton era was even worse, without the justification of an enormous crisis. and Hillary has only herself to blame for both her key participation in the direction of the Democratic Party over the last quarter century and the absolutely lackluster campaign she ran.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
I'm not really defending his record, but noting the degree to which ppl's disappointment is magnified by their unrealistic view and expectations of him

his tremendous personal charisma, and blackness, caused ppl to delude themselves into thinking he was some kind of leftist firebrand

whereas I always viewed him as a centrist technocrat so my disappointment was quite mild when he confirmed that belief

the other disaster of his Presidency besides his 2008 response was his complete inability to deal with McConnell, to get down into the muck and duke it out

his intentions were noble but there's a time for nobility and there's a time to throw elbows, and for whatever reasons he just didn't have that in him

not lack of courage - he has if anything an uncommon degree of political courage - more like it's just not his style

tbf again I'm sure the need to not appear aggressive (i.e. moderate his blackness) didn't help nor did having Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
like just to put it in context bc ppl's memories are short

Clinton gutted a huge part of the social safety net with predictably disastrous results for poor Americans, passed a landmark criminal justice bill that hugely accelerated mass incarceration in addition to all his and Hillary's bullshit dog whistling about "super predators", had a long track of military adventurism, oversaw the Iraqi sanctions, etc. oh, and he signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act.

GW launched a stupid, hugely disastrous war, greatly expanded govt's ability to conduct surveillance and simultaneously reduced oversight, oversaw acceleration of deregulation that helped enable the financial crisis, slashed - in a variety of ways - taxes on the wealthy, mismanaged the fuck out of the Katrina response, tried to privatize social security, actively tried to amend the Constitution to prevent gay people from marrying each other, etc
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
passed a landmark criminal justice bill that hugely accelerated mass incarceration
Biden drafted that legislation btw. or rather the let the police lobby draft it and then co-sponsored it (with Orrin Hatch) in the Senate.

like Obama's Presidency was pretty lame but you really have to put it squarely in the context of decades of embarrassing Democrat bullshit
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Shane Warne's career ended with like, five wickets including the last ball of the game or something. Some people write their own scripts. Then he had a fling with Elizabeth Hurley.
And then what? He didn't get any more wickets, Hurley chucked him and he was mainly in the news for advertising an amazingly effective non-smoking treatment.... but kept getting photographed in bars smoking. And then Muralithanan smashed his wicket total and the whole of Australia went into a sulk that it's never left.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
That will probably bring Graves out of retirement to claim that they changed the rules unfairly for Muri. It's like the law that any Australian has to say that whenever he's mentioned.
 

beiser

Well-known member
He definitely sold himself as a leftist firebrand in 2008. He literally cribbed his entire rhetorical strategy from Roberto Unger, who was advising his campaign.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
And then what? He didn't get any more wickets, Hurley chucked him and he was mainly in the news for advertising an amazingly effective non-smoking treatment.... but kept getting photographed in bars smoking. And then Muralithanan smashed his wicket total and the whole of Australia went into a sulk that it's never left.
That's not his career it's his afterlife
 

Leo

Well-known member
people project their own thoughts and desires on leaders, so a politician's legacy shouldn't be strictly measured by what they did IRL. I'd imagine Obama's presidency, regardless of how "successful" it was, serves as an inspiration and role model for a lot of black and other minority people who finally saw someone other than an old white guy become "leader of the free world".
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
@padraig (u.s.) : who, in your opinion, was the last POTUS who actually did more good than harm?
FDR

if not for Vietnam you could, as gus suggests, say LBJ with the Great Society, but unfortunately there is Vietnam and it's inescapable

addendum: I don't know too much about the domestic policies of Truman or Eisenhower, but they oversaw McCarthyism - Truman instituted a "loyalty program" via executive order in '47 that set the stage for it - so they'd have to be pretty fucking crackerjack to overcome that. Eisenhower didn't start any new wars and specifically kept the country out of Vietnam in '54 (him and his CJCS Matt Ridgeway had, from WWII, the knowledge to know it was a terrible idea and the credibility to say so) which is a big mark in his favor. otoh, the CIA ran wild in the 50s with coups and attempted coups - Guatemala, Iran, Syria, Indonesia - in the name of anti-communism and/or big business i.e. United Fruit in Guatemala - many of which, besides their dubious morality, eventually blew up in America's face.
 
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padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
Who was a sack of shit, further confirming this "good people don't necessarily make good presidents" business
I don't disagree with that

O is a much better person than most politicians, has personal integrity, etc, and was pretty bad at being President, tho very good at appearing presidential, which is not unimportant

tho LBJ's personal failings did let him down as President - he was great at actual politicking, the hardnosed gimlet-eyed horsetrading, but quite bad at statesmanship. his paranoia, obsession with loyalty over competence, hatred and fear of JFK's ppl (that is, feelings of inadequacy), etc all contributed to his terrible mismanagement of the war's acceleration and the creation and growth of the credibility gap
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
these things are hard to judge bc a President acts within many constraints, both Constitutional and historical forces beyond their control

so I keep saying, but if you have to grade in context. things that are actively harmful are worse.

but like, no one forced Clinton-era Democrats to basically adopt most of the GOP's worst policies

speaking of Roberto Unger, he has a good quote about it. this is referring to Obama in 2012 but the general sentiment applies to the last 30 years.

Roberto Unger said:
The Democratic Party proposes no new direction. Its idea is to put a human face on the program of its adversary, to implement their program with a humanizing discount. Give the bond markets what they want. They allow the reckless so long as they are also rich. Use fiscal and monetary stimulus to make up for the absence of any consequential broadening of economic and educational opportunity. Sweeten the pill of disempowerment with a touch of tax fairness even though the effect of any such tax reform is sure to be modest. This is less a project then it is an abdication.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
so that's what I mean wrt to Obama coming in at end of decades of bullshit which he again, did actively continue

really you can point to the beginning of the Democrats losing the Rust Belt - literally and symbolically - when Carter, at the behest of Wall Street, appoints Volcker to the Fed in 1979. it's no coincidence that they lost the Senate two years later, after having controlled it - usually with huge margins, approaching or exceeding 2-1 - for all of the 60s and 70s.

instead of learning a lesson from that, they embraced Wall Street, financialization, the gutting of the labor movement and social safety net, etc

and then were shocked when working-class white ppl abandoned them in droves
 
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