"...I was prompted to examine the Obama record through the eyes of one of his most articulate supporters by my sharpish exchange with the editor of the New Yorker, David Remnick, on Fareed Zakaria’s television program two weeks ago.
Mr. Remnick said that he thought he was “hallucinating” when he heard me say that Donald Trump is neither a racist nor a sexist, and I replied that I had a similar sensation when I saw President Obama in the ten days before the election telling large crowds that Trump was an admirer of the Ku Klux Klan.
...Mr. Obama steadily receives an approval rating of between 50% and 55%, between 10 points and 20 points below FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon pre-Watergate, Reagan, and, for the untroubled parts of his time, Bill Clinton.
But this is a levitation produced by his unusually fluent but detached personality, given that for the last six years two-thirds of Americans polled have steadily thought the country was going “in the wrong direction.”
...This, Mr. Remnick wrote, brought the elusive legacy to the fore. The legacy is: avoiding a depression, “rescuing the automobile industry,” Wall Street “reform,” Obamacare, marriage equality, “banning torture,” the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the end of the Iraq War, “heavy investment in renewable-energy technologies,” the appointment of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan to the Supreme Court, killing bin Laden, the Iran nuclear deal, the opening of Cuba, the Paris agreement on climate change, and two terms “long on dignity and short on scandal.”
So this is the legacy the president and his press-ubiquitous claque are clangorously raising heavenwards like a messianic effigy.
- A depression was avoided by doubling 233 years of accumulated national debt in seven years to get an annual economic-growth rate of 1%, as 15 million people have dropped out of the work force.
- The auto rescue could have been much better designed and even Chapter Eleven for Chrysler and General Motors would not have repudiated corporate bonds altogether, would have provided a pittance for the equity-holders rather than nothing, and would not have handed control of much of the industry to the self-destructively greedy United Auto Workers who were at least half the problem in the first place.
- Wall Street “reform” has meant stifling red tape, a witch hunt among traders and fund managers but continued fiscal subsidization of those who substitute velocity of money-transactions in place of activities that add value, precisely the practice that Mr. Obama denounces elsewhere in Mr. Remnick’s article as creating the menace of increasing unemployment and income disparity, dangers that this administration has done nothing to allay.
- “Banning torture” means stopping waterboarding, which is frightening but not painful and may, in some conditions, be justifiable in counterterrorism. “Marriage equality” is a state-by-state matter and the legalization was by the Supreme Court, and the whole issue is the applicability of the word “marriage,” not the right to same-sex civil union. Lilly Ledbetter, for the 99% of readers who would not know, involves the Supreme Court decision allowing limitations on claims of discriminatory pay-scales to begin at the last paycheck — hardly a ground-shaking tweak of the law, though a respectable reform.
- Justices Sotomayor and Kagan are acceptable judges but no better than most confirmed under recent presidents of both parties. The whole court has gone to sleep while the Bill of Rights has putrefied, and there is no sign that Justice Kagan, an ex-solicitor general, will do anything about it.
- “The end of the Iraq War” was thoughtlessly hasty and spawned the Islamic State, handed 60% of Iraqis to the overlordship of Iran, and helped generate an immense humanitarian crisis (a fact that Mr. Trump and Senator Sanders were the only presidential candidates to acknowledge).
- The “opening of Cuba” just legitimized the Cuban seizure of American assets and accomplished nothing for anyone, least of all the victims of the Stalinist Castro regime.
- The Paris climate-change agreement was unspecific piffle about an unproved threat.
- Two relatively scandal-free terms could be said of all 13 previous two-full-term presidents except Grant and Mr. Clinton.
- The elimination of bin Laden is conceded as a fine achievement, and Obamacare, “heavy investment in renewable-energy technologies,” and the Iran nuclear deal are all almost unmitigated disasters...
...Donald Trump is the oldest and wealthiest person elected president, the first not to have had a public office or high military command, the first to pay for his own campaign, and the first since Washington to waive his salary.
He has defeated the Clintons, the Bushes, the Obamas, and almost all the dishonest, myth-making national press (including David Remnick).
The national political press has declined even more precipitously than the political class, and the president-elect was elevated despite the animosity of both, a signal achievement whose significance those who have been vanquished show no signs of grasping.