Traditionally, it’s wise to wait a while before judging a president’s tenure. It takes some time for that fabled hindsight to become 20/20, after all. In the immediate heat of the moment, a president looks very different during his administration than he does ten or twenty years down the road. We can look back on George W. Bush, for instance, and know (1) he was pretty darned bad, and (2) he still looks like a genuine, canonized saint compared to Donald Trump.
But there’s been a few commentators out there who have started to look back on Obama with the kind of teary-eyed nostalgia normally reserved for pre-Lewinsky Bill Clinton or Franklin D. Roosevelt post-New-Deal. But even they admit it’s too soon to call for sure.
For one thing, being president is sometimes a matter of timing. The ones we remember as poor or so-so sometimes came into office when things were going great, and enjoyed a nice headwind for their early term before it fizzled out. The ones we remember as extraordinary came into office at a time of crisis, or had a crisis thrust upon them, and rose to the challenge with a heroic effort. To be remembered as great, you have to have a union of great talent with great opportunity.
Barrack Obama came into office at a time when the United States was in a tailspin. The Great Recession crippled the economy, gas prices were astronomical, and partisan combat tore the country into a divided mess. “No drama Obama,” as he became nicknamed, always had a cool head and a sure hand on the tiller. He fixed the immediate problems, worked to solve and prevent even more, and left as his legacy landmark health care legislation, LGBT civil rights progress, and an economy fine-tuned enough to withstand the first six months of Donald Trump.
Also, he’s the only president to leave office and go windsurfing straight away. That says points for style!
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