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What Obama wrought

It is nearly over. Obama has a few more days in the Oval Office, and then he is off, for what we cannot yet tell.

I left the following comment on a friend’s FB page, with some subsequent edits:

“A poor president on multiple levels. Trying to be generous, I am pleased he did not interfere with the expanding world of private space flight and certain other technologies that may affect lives for the better, but I am struggling to think of a very big positive development on his watch. He cannot even really claim credit for the economic recovery, since that has been largely a function of central bank money printing, the effects of which are uncertain; labour force participation has shrunk, which is one reason why the recovery hasn’t felt like one. The bailouts and stimulus package were, in my view, either a waste of money or a net drag on the economy. Debt levels remain scarily high. The fracking industrial movement took place despite, rather than because, of any policies he set out. He is hostile to entrepreneurs and the business ethic (“you did not build that”).

Race relations deteriorated on his watch, although not all of that can be laid at his door. The Solyndra fiasco highlighted the bubble around climate change fearmongering. The weaponisation of the IRS was an abuse of power, and Eric Holder’s tenure as Attorney General was littered with scandals, such as the Fast & Furious gun-running episode.

Mr Obama’s handling of foreign affairs has been inept, if not malevolent. He managed to alienate allies such as the UK, Poland and Israel, and was naive about enemies, especially Iran. The deal with Iran over nuclear issues is a joke. His intervention into the UK vote on Brexit, for example, saying that the UK would be put at the back of a queue in trade talks, was typical bullying, but also counterproductive. The decision to leave Iraq, come what may, was a mistake, although arguably, there was never a good time to do so. The horrendous procurement saga of the F-35 fighter suggests that some defence spending is as bloated as ever. The heavy use of drone strikes also did not square with a Nobel Peace Price image. 

He even managed to shock continental Europeans by not sending a high-placed official to the official mourning for the Paris massacre of 2015, raising questions over how seriously he takes Islamist terrorism, and his attempt to criticise anyone for suggesting that Islam has a problem shows an alarming naivete, at best.

His use of executive orders, and clear unwillingness to negotiate unless on his terms, sets a bad precedent, and opened the opportunity for Trump.

It should be acknowledged that Mr Obama has done a great deal to raise the profile of golf. There is a saying that we should be grateful that we don’t get all the government we pay for. So perhaps it is good that this man spent as much time he did hitting small white balls. He is, however, unlikely to make the US Ryder Cup team in the near future.”

40 comments to What Obama wrought

  • Gary Taylor

    He is the first US president in history to be at war every single day of his 8 year administration.

  • for what we cannot yet tell.

    Endless carping from the sidelines I expect, which will prevent the Democrats from moving on and selecting an effective leadership. Give it six months and we’ll be hearing how his wife should run.

  • Mr Ed

    Hope‘ ‘Change‘.

    Well on the latter, he has delivered, in the form of P-EOTUS Trump.

    Otherwise, he has been, mutatis mutandis like a British Upper-Class Lefty, embarrassed by and full of loathing for, his country as it has been. Fiscally, he has carried on where Bush left off, and gave the USA the HillaryCare it never got, a Rodham for his own back.

    And funny how I remember when Clinton left, the media were gushing about him staying around DC as a ‘King over the Water’, as if he remained the ‘real’ President when Bush II arrived. I hear echoes of that with Mr Obama in the usual media.

  • Darin

    BHO refused the war crazed neocon mad dogs in 2009 over Iran, in 2013 over Syria and in 2014 over Ukraine. He earned his Nobel prize three times over.
    Do not diss him too much, and give thanks that the world escaped HRC by hair’s breadth.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I made a quip about the Nobel Prize committee already refusing to give Trump the peace prize, just in case, but it appears everyone seems to be blaming Trump for things before he’s even stepped one foot in the White House.

  • Cal Ford

    And, to mention again, the insane levels of government borrowing.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “Rodham for his own back”.


  • Paul Marks

    Mr Obama “achieved” his objective of increasing the number of people dependent on government – “Cloward and Piven” tactics.

    He also promoted (yes promoted) racial conflict = Frankfurt School tactics.

    And he has got out of things before the Federal Reserve Credit Bubble collapsed.

    I was desperate for the Credit Bubble to collapse when the Democrats were still in office – but I have not got what I wanted.

    As various people noted at the time – I was “predicting” what I desperately wanted to happen, without any hard evidence that the bubble would burst at that time.

    Bleep, bleep, bleeping bleep-bleep.

  • lucklucky

    “BHO refused the war crazed neocon mad dogs in 2009 over Iran”

    Iran that says wants to destroy America isn’t it?

    “2014 over Ukraine”

    The Ukraine that gave its nuclear weapons in exchange from protection. Yeah that makes much good.

    I suspect that for UK it doesn’t apply isn’t it? And the mad neocons would be very nice to have..

  • bobby b

    “Do not diss him too much . . . “

    That would hardly seem possible.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Almost everybody except Darin gets it, smaller or larger. Largest: bobby and Paul. And lucklucky.

    But I agree with Darin about snatching Shrill from the jaws of victory! (I think it is fair to say that Trump is in fact no friend of business, because he is surely no friend of property rights. But perhaps that indicates an idiosyncratic use of the word “business” on my part.)


    Johnathan: First & worst, “recovery” should be everywhere in quotes *g*. (“The work force has shrunk” bigtime.) And the Sith has been nothing if not malevolent. “Benefit of the doubt” is all very well, but there is a point where doubt must give way to moral certainty.

  • A fair and VERY diplomatic summation of the Obama legacy and probably as glowing a recommendation to the post of Secretary General of the U.N. as he’s likely to get.

    I fully support his candidacy to that post as not only would it let him claim in his own mind to have advanced to the position of Emperor Of The World, but would grease the skids for the movement to evict that hive of scum and villainy from our shores.

  • If you’re going to blame the F-35 on anyone, blame it on Bill Clinton. It was on his watch that the JSF program was begun by former MacNamara ‘wiz kid’ les Aspin. It’s actually three separate aircraft disguised as a single program.

    BHO deserves to be damned, but not for that.

  • Laird

    I think that is an excellent and very fair (perhaps overly so) summation of Obama’s 8 years in the White House. I was discussing this subject this morning with my business partner* who, while not an Obama fan, nonetheless is less negative about the man than I am. He made the observation that Obama had done some “good things”, although when pressed couldn’t name one. But then he noted that Barack and Michelle are “classy” people. I suppose that’s true, for some definitions of “classy”, but as I replied to him that’s an awfully low bar for a President of the United States. Although perhaps it’s all we deserve.

    Obama has been a disaster for this country. I suppose we should be grateful that he wasn’t even worse, which was certainly possible (to at least some extent the Republican Congress kept him in check). He can’t leave soon enough to suit me, and he will not be missed. Unfortunately, as Tim Newman suggests, I don’t think we’ll be permitted to miss him. He’ll be hanging around like a genital wart for decades to come.

    * Personally, I find it annoying that I feel I have to use the adjective “business” to modify “partner”, lest anyone think that we’re in some sort of romantic relationship. Chalk up yet one more example of the homosexual lobby perverting a perfectly fine word (“partner”) into something sordid (as they long ago did with “gay”). 😡

  • Clovis Sangrail

    At the risk of disappearing under an unpleasant mound of foamed spittle, can I just point out that the BBC said this morning that his presidency has been “scandal-free”?
    Luckily I was just setting off to work, otherwise I think I would have destroyed the interior of my house in my rage and despair.

    That is the level of fakeness in the fake news that we are currently facing.
    That is something that Obama has (in part) wrought.

  • Fraser Orr

    Perhaps the most positive thing you can say about Obama is that his utter inability to work across the aisle meant that he could not get done most of the things that he wanted to do, and those that he did get done are generally reversible being Exec Orders.

    I believe I have said before that the primary thing that prevents us being utterly consumed by our massively overpowerful government is that it is run by (and the nature of politics assures us that it is run by) a bunch of incompetent morons.

    The thing that both excites me and scares me about Trump is that he, being a “deal maker”, seems rather good getting things done, even in hostile environments. But I guess we will just have to wait and see.

  • Regional

    Can any one see rich white whymen busing across America?

  • CaptDMO

    I’m no award winning economist, musing on political science and anthropology for a big news paper, but:
    By doubling the annual interest rate, for a doubled (plus) National Debt, including “unmentioned” pending liabilities, one does NOT get a “participation award” for being present, while an invisible hand adapts to your gross incompetence.
    “I can’t afford the deductible after paying the legislated, inflated, “affordable” premium!” is no way to go through life.

  • Slartibartfarst

    As an observer at a distance in Enzed, I would echo @Laird by saying that @Johnathan Pearce’s post seems to be an excellent and very fair (perhaps overly so) summation of the POTUS’s 8 years in the White House.
    The Kiwis have a term for their politicians who are held in such low regard:

    “A waste of space.”

    I never fully understand American politics, but I find it a sad, if not rather depressing shame that a period of 8 years of potential opportunity for constructive national achievement and development in the US (and the world) seems to have been missed/lost/squandered because the POTUS was intently focussed on peripheral stuff (and golf) and designing a sort of national religio-political ideological straightjacket, or something equally constraining, around the American Constitution and The People – like they were the enemy in some way. And in the days before his exit, he seems to have redoubled his unhelpful/destructive efforts in a spiteful and irresponsible display of antagonism and gross disregard for democracy and the need for a smooth/peaceful transition of power.

    A real pity. I had held such high hopes for him – the president that might have (could have) been. He could have achieved so much for America and other nations, if he had wanted to. So much for that vapid slogan, “Hope N’ Change”.
    He seemed to have let everyone down, but probably no-one more so than himself.

  • Myno

    BO could never have made a good President. Here was a man who knew nothing about market economics or market culture, whose feeble narcissism made him a Tool of the vapid ideas he adsorbed along his subsequently hidden path. He “never learned anything from anyone with whom he disagreed.” He brought with him to the Oval Office a closed mind, and the will to wield it. I remain thankful that the power hungry party that elevated him could not discern for the skill to rule. They promoted him, and he was some kind of beautiful to the masses, but in his case only skin deep.

  • Eric Tavenner

    Slartibartfarst, we do use “A waste of space.” or alternately waste of skin or oxygen thief.
    How can anyone call Obama a failure?
    Ruined economy? Check.
    Race relations set back at least 100 years? Check.
    Allies angry at us? Check.
    Military weakened and demoralized? Check.
    Federal Government debt made so big that it can never be paid off? Check.
    Billions given to cronies? Check.
    Tens of thousands of stifling new regulations? Check.
    You can’t say he didn’t do what he set out to do.
    Also, he was the greatest gun salesman EVER!!

  • RAB

    And he still hasn’t got his Golf handicap down to 18…

  • Julie near Chicago

    It’s so nice to see that Mr. Will in the Times-Herald piece to which Myno links cannot bring himself to name the “professor” whose words he quotes. As it happens, that would Richard A. Epstein, one of the two pre-pre-pre-eminent libertarian legal eagles in the entire country — although Prof. Epstein straddles the rather wide grey boundary between libertarianism of the more sensible variety (i.e. not “left”) and distinctly soft-core utilitarianism; as a result he classes himself nowadays as a Classical Liberal, which is pretty accurate I think.

    I’m afraid Richard (I know him only in the sense that I read and hear and watch him online — avidly) far too often and far too fundamentally disagrees with me, but then so many of the benighted share the failing, and it’s his loss after all. And face it, when he’s right he’s RIGHT! Besides which, he’s entertaining as all get-out and a clear thinker.

    And he’s more than earned the right* to be spoken of and treated with respect. And to be acknowledged as the source of a quote.

    *”Right”: meaning, it is only right and just that he be treated respectfully. Of course, rightness and justice so often fail to prevail in this our Vale of Tears….

  • bobby b

    Oh, lordy, another Epstein phreak! I’ve fallen in with dubious company indeed.

    What lawyer hasn’t figured out an entire genre of law using Epstein on Torts? What freedom-worshiping lawyer hasn’t been enthralled with his explanation that eminent domain was meant, not as a blessing of governmental theft, but as a statement that government must honor property rights just as it expects of private actors? As I type this, I can see his Simple Rules for a Complex World among my books.

    I share your appreciation for the man.

  • Laird

    bobby b, I had to read Prosser, not Epstein, on torts. Probably scarred me for life.

  • Jb

    Epstein on Torts! His sidebar notes on caselaw were small minuets of sanity during the drudgery of my first year at NYU. Sadly, although he teaches there the stars were not properly aligned to afford me the opportunity to take one of his classes.

  • But then he noted that Barack and Michelle are “classy” people.

    Are they? As I noted on my own blog:

    Well, judgements as to a family’s deportment and personal conduct are best made by those closest to them, not sycophantic journalists who receive only carefully arranged photoshoots, pre-written speeches, and filtered information. Let’s wait until the Obamas are gone from the White House, their contemporaries retire, and the memoirs begin to appear. Taking part in Carpool Karaoke and making saccharine speeches when the cameras are rolling doesn’t tell us much; how Michelle treated the kitchen staff will. And insofar as class and grace is concerned, didn’t George W. Bush and his wife exemplify that as a First Family? Leaving his policies aside – as we are with Obama on this point – Bush was unfailingly polite and dignified and I don’t think anyone had a bad word to say about him as a person, nor his wife.

  • From the distance of the UK, it always seemed to me that Obama was an affirmative action candidate – a man who would never have been considered for president but for his race.

    – Thomas Sowell, asked what advantages there were to being black in modern America, replied, “Being praised for infinitesimal achievements”; the nobel peace prize seemed the perfect example of that.

    – The ObamaCare website crashing on launch seemed the perfect example of what happens when such a candidate faces a real test.

    – Obama’s all-sealed academic records suggested his whole life had been achieved this way.

    The process harms its subjects, not just those put under them. In less elevated cases, Charles Murray describes in detail how the effect is to arrest what could otherwise be normal development of skill: “He never becomes a sociologist; he is just a black with a sociology degree.”

    The OP is diplomatic – it would be a usable discussion text for reasonable people of different views. My text above might not be so usable with anyone of PC views. But I’m more interested if it is fair, or one sided, or true but much less important to why Obama lasted 8 years than more immediate politics, or …. (comment welcome).

  • Greg

    Paul Marks and others have touched on this, but I think the Occam’s Razor assessment of Obama is not that he failed at everything he attempted, rather he succeeded. This is not a new observation, but it needs fleshing out and actions taken.

    He has caused the most destruction for the US of anyone in Washington, ever. And let’s assume, as the Left asserts, that he’s a talented, smart-as-hell leader. Then the simplest conclusion is he intended it (malice aforethought). How many thousands have died because of this man? And again, that this would happen was obvious from the get-go (let’s release 500 terrorists from Gitmo who are hell bent on killing infidels; let’s let the Iranians develop nuclear weapons), he intended that.

    He’s a totalitarian of the first order and a traitor with the blood of a dozen nations on his hands.

    Trump should prosecute every single political appointee of Obama who had anything to do with any of the above. Spare Obama so we can watch the spectacle of him in the “press” while the trials unfold. Sorry–end of rant.

    I realize there’s probably only a few such appointees who really could or should be prosecuted (Holder comes to mind), but thanks to the press and the usual suspects in academia and government, the US is now a banana republic, although we may be lowering that bar by such an assertion.

    It’s fine to argue theory and policy back and forth and I really do like the argument found here, but at some point, doesn’t one have to act? Else, when they come for you, there will be no one left to stand with you. Let’s hope Trump acts for us so that the US can continue as an internally peaceful (Chicago notwithstanding) nation.

  • Fraser Orr

    > He has caused the most destruction for the US of anyone in Washington, ever.

    Do you really believe the Obama caused more damaged than FDR? Or Wilson (under whom, if you will remember, we got the federal reserve board, the income tax and the popular election of senators and his actions eventually lead to the united nations.) I don’t.

    I’m not a fan of Obama, however, as I said above, his inability to get things done — even with all the congress on his side — was utterly pathetic. Pathetic in a good way, because it would have been WAY worse had he actually got to implement his ideas. What is his permanent damage? Not much that can’t be turned around. Well, except for all those trillions of dollars of debt of course.

    My view is that with Obama we dodged a bullet. Or maybe even that we dodged a bazooka.

  • Mr Ed

    My view is that with Obama we dodged a bullet. Or maybe even that we dodged a bazooka.

    Well he kept Mrs Clinton, Mr McCain and Mr Romney out of the White House, and will depart as Mr Trump comes in. In weighing the balance, I suppose that should be a lump of gold on one side of the scales.

    Rembrandt shows the moment when a divine hand appeared and wrote on the wall a phrase only Daniel could decipher. When transliterated the inscription reads: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation: ‘God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; your kingdom is given to the Medes and Persians.’

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, I’m doubtful that McCain would be awfuller than the Sith, and I’m pretty sure Romney would have been better, just “business as usual” with, I hear, a person at the helm who is at least personally decent. Now we have Hair, and we’ll see.

    But at least we don’t have Shrill.

  • lucklucky

    Obama the First Anti-American President succeeded in pretty much all objectives.

    Destroying a big chunk of US dissuasion and credibility
    Launching Americans more against each other. Seems no one reminds of this but he said out loud that other Americans are “enemies”. He was not so clear about many other groups that have been murdering Americans or stating their desire to kill Americans.
    Moderately Racist, the euphemism “Identity Politics” was pushed forward even more under Obama. So much there was a backlash that helped contribute to defeat Hillary Clinton when many whites also started to vote as racial block.

    The venom that Obama instilled will be much longer lived than Trump. Actually can be said that Trump is part of Obama venom.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Libertarian-types condemning the players instead of the game – as usual.

    Obama merely played his part.

    And the wheels turn.

  • Renminbi

    He did damage that won’t likely be repaired. The people who went on disability because of the poor job market are not likely to re-enter the labor force, ever. Who would have the guts to kick them off?

    On the positive side I am enjoying the hysterical ranting of the left and their MSM whores. We paid for it- might as well enjoy it.

  • Laird

    Naill, there are quite a lot of us over on this side of the pond who agree with your assessment.

  • Libertarian-types condemning the players instead of the game – as usual.

    Seriously? When was the last time you saw some ‘libertarian type’ saying “the political game would be great if only we had better people playing it”? Libertarian types (and indeed hardcore communist types) are pretty much the only people not always fixated on the players.

  • Penkville

    Good summary.

    For me, the one policy of his you mentioned that I don’t think gets anywhere near enough attention is the drone strike killings. He’s apparently deliberately had assassinated at least one US citizen in this way, let alone so many innocent bystanders who happened to be near relatively minor (let’s say for argument purposes, legitimate) targets. Even allowing for the usual media bias and blindness to what he does, this amazes me.

  • Alisa

    He’s not done yet, and apparently intends to stay busy causing damage until his last moment in the WH – the latest. What a despicable man.

  • Thailover

    His replacement of Eric Holder with Loretta Lynch shows that his (Obama’s) actions are not mere incompetence, but are actually evil.

    The good thing is that his “I have a phone and a pen” side-stepping of congress tyranny is as easily undone. President Trump has a pen too.