A new Vanity Fair analysis refers to former president Barack Obama as a “visionary” but notes that up-and-coming Democrats are starting to frown upon his legacy.
Author T.A. Frank surmises that perhaps it isn’t the quality of his work – praising such legacy items as the Affordable Care Act, DACA, and the Paris climate deal – but rather acceptance by the American public and how it might reflect on their own political prospects.
In a relatively short period of time, President Trump has almost singlehandedly dismantled much of Obama’s legacy. The above-noted items have all been torn apart in some manner. Others not listed have as well. Trump has pulled America out of the Paris Accord, reversed pro-illegal immigration executive orders, rescinded countless government regulations, repealed the Obamacare individual mandate, and of course, pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement.
Was He a Bad President?
Worse than policy issues, younger faces of the Democrat party have found Obama’s vision devastating to their futures in politics. They are keenly aware that the 2016 presidential election was widely seen as a referendum on a perceived third term for Obama, and it resulted in a devastating loss for the Left.
Likewise, throughout his two terms as president, Obama would frequently remind voters that while he wasn’t on the ballot in 2010, 2014, and 2016, his policies were. The American electorate responded by delivering historic losses for the Democrat Party at every single level of government.
— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) December 28, 2018
The financial crisis was Obama’s moment of truth, and he sided with the establishment. Now, the 2020 field must contend with an uncomfortable question: was Obama a bad president? https://t.co/WY6JExdxoI
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) January 15, 2019
You can believe Obama was an OK president (and better than the GOP) and also believe that if we replicate Obama's record of historic increases in oil production, then climate change will kill lots of people.
You can think both. It's weird that some folks can't understand that. https://t.co/eWAib5kOh6
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) December 28, 2018
“If today’s Democrats can’t beat Trump, then maybe Hillary Clinton wasn’t as bad a candidate as her critics claimed,” Frank writes. “And if Clinton wasn’t the problem, then what was the problem?”
“Such questions are behind a recent spike of debates on the left over Barack Obama’s record. More and voices seem to be saying, either obliquely or bluntly, that Obama was a bad president.”
I don’t recommend attacking Obama if you want Democratic votes. It’s just that he did a bad job and so getting Democratic votes requires not being straightforward about that.
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) January 2, 2019
They Want His Help, But They Don’t Want His Help
Obama has been meeting behind closed doors with several potential candidates that plan to take on President Trump in 2020. Top prospects such as Bernie Sanders, Eric Holder, Elizabeth Warren, and his partner in crime, former Vice President Joe Biden, have all sought council from Obama on how to defeat the president.
Yet, as Frank points out, they’ll all have to answer significant questions about the last Democratic president and distance themselves from some of his policies. From the Vanity Fair piece:
[M]any of the country’s most ominous trends proceeded apace under his watch. The financialization of the economy kept increasing. Student debt kept exploding. Trade policy kept its same priorities. Opioid addiction kept spreading. Suicide numbers kept rising. Disparities in life expectancy between rich and poor kept widening. Union membership kept declining. Illegal border-crossers kept coming. Our defense commitments kept growing. In towns like Jasper, Indiana, and Mebane, North Carolina, factory workers—a hundred here, a couple of hundred there—kept losing their middle-class jobs, outcompeted by giant Chinese mills with appalling conditions.
Will these 2020 contenders be able to capitalize on an uptick in Obama’s likeability as time washes away reminders of his epic failures as president, while simultaneously keeping those failures at arm’s length from the public view?
It remains to be seen.
Cross posted at the Mental Recession