Opinions on Barack Obama's presidency - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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Polls on politics, news, current affairs and history.

I think that Barack Obama was a (n)..........president.

near great.
above average.
below average.
very poor.
too early to pass judgment.
No votes
I regard US presidents as mere figureheads, they hardly influence policies.
other (please elaborate).
How do you view the eight years of Obama's presidency (2009-2017)? Did he manage to meet your expectations? The favorability ratings of George W. Bush (Obama's predecessor) in public opinion surveys began to rise in the years after he had left office. Do you think that Obama will benefit from the same phenomenon?


- the extent to which he delivered on his campaign promises
- honesty and personal integrity
- intellectual brilliance
- effectiveness in terms of achieving his policy aims
- ability to unite the nation and transcend bipartisan politics in the United States
- the ways in which he influenced world politics
- impact of his policies on your race or ethnic group
- future legacy

This is just a sample list, so you can add many other (anything that you deem relevant).

My wording when it comes to the poll question closely mirrors the terms used in popular opinion polls on recent US presidents.
Obama's presidency, like any other president's tenure, has to be examined by term. 2008 - 2012 and 2012 - 2016. The first term was notably more successful than the second, no doubt influenced by the upsets in the 2010 and 2012 election, with the Republicans controlling the Congress and coming close to contesting the Senate. As a result of this, completely standard political phenomena in the American system, the President was only able to exert completely unopposed governance between 2008 and 2010. Indeed, the Republicans still control the House which means the Democrats have not had a congressional majority for almost eight years now. Clearly their ability to introduce and influence legislation was going to be curtailed therefore after 2010.

So in 2008 Obama was elected with huge fanfair and much celebration. He had two basic expectations which were ending the war in the Iraq and providing some kind of break on the economic collapse which by Obama's inauguration in 2009 had removed trillions of dollars of market value. The real impact on the economy however was the collapse of interest rates to less than 1% for nine years of what has subsequently become known as "austerity" economics. Global debt crisis threatened to bankrupt large parts of the European Union as well, including Italy, Spain, Greece, and Ireland. The war in Iraq was in poor shape with Bush era generals recommending a withdrawal from Iraq and an expansion of force in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which Obama considered the primary front in the War on Terror.

So what was done between 2009 and 2012 was the following of a strategy that was put forward largely by David Petraeus in his COIN doctrine which involved surging troops to Afghanistan to remove the Taliban from villages. In Iraq, US forces withdrew in 2010 leaving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run the war, which she did through private mercenariness. This strategy was not successful as, unlike US soldiers, mercenaries are not capable of conducting COIN operations, and this eventually led to the emergence of extreme factions in northern Iraq which would become unified as ISIL.

In 2010 the Democrats lost the House, but Obama was able to get the Affordable Care through which remains a landmark healthcare bill for the United States, described by many as based on Ma. governor Mitt Romney's "Romneycare" the success of which no doubt influenced Mitt Romney to run for election in 2012. Meanwhile the right-wing media escalated their conflict with Obama, targeting him on racist lines, eventually supported by a cohort of so-called "tea parties" that collectively became known as the extreme Christian fundamentalist wing of the Republican party. Media icons like Glenn Beck on Fox News were influential in generating the media fury that supported the emergence of these groups, likewise Steve Bannon made fiery documentaries about Alaska governor and presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Christian wacko Michele Bachmann, amongst others.

Coinciding with the 2009 "reset" with Russia advanced by Clinton and Obama's Cairo speech advocating for a new secular Islam , resulted in slackening of Russian involvement in the Middle East, and, prompted by a government revolt in Tunisia, generated what became known as the Arab Spring revolution which proceeded to topple the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, while causing a crisis in Libya that NATO quickly exploited. When the revolution spread to Syria, however, it was halted and although liberally backed by State department money, was unable to overthrow Bashir al-Asad, resulting in a protracted civil war that is still ongoing. There was some expectation in 2011 that Obama might intervene militarily over the Syrian crossing of the "red line" use of chemical weapons, but Obama refused to intervene. In 2012 Obama defeated Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to retain the presidency, however the House remained Republican. In 2010 bin Laden was assassinated in Pakistan by a team of Navy SEALs, dramatically illustrating the complex nature of the ongoing war on terror, but giving Obama a solid foreign policy victory he could use in 2012. In October 2012 Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New Jersey, but Obama's response was considered a success, a political triumph when compared to the notoriously disastrous handling of the Katrina hurricane in 2005 during Bush's presidency.

The subsequent second half of the Obama presidency thus began on the brink. The Arab spring had petered out and the economic crisis had slowed. However there was political gridlock in Washington and the Republicans, radicalized by money for capitalist donors and Christian fundamentalist lunatics threatened to shutdown the government. Obamacare was used as a rallying cry by the right to defeat what was portrayed to the conservative base as Obama's tyrannical yet ineffective rule. Evidence for the tyrannical nature of the rule was generated in 2013 when NSA sub-contractor Edward Snowden leaked detail information on NSA spy programs that had been arranged with tech and software companies and involved mass spying of foreign government leaders including such persons as Angela Merkel.

It was later revealed that this was generally part of Obama's doctrine, which involved a dramatic expansion of the CIA, NSA, and SOCOM counter-terrorist effort and the handing of basically free reign to the US security community and its international allies, including GCHQ in Britain and CSIS in Canada. The result of Snowden's leaks showed a shocking expansion of government power that really scared people and seemed to give fuel to the Republicans, such as Senator Rand Paul, whose star was rising as a result of his championing of his Congressman father's libertarianism. Libertarianism became integrated with the tea party movement in an unholy alliance, united with Christian fundamentalism to ultimately form what today we could call the "alt right".

On September 11 2012 Al Qaeda terrorists killed US Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi, ultimately prompting a political crisis that caused Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to resign, where she was replaced after the 2012 election, by former US Presidential candidate John Kerry. Clinton's resignation was a great victory for the right, who were able to use this to flog the president for the next four years, during which time congressman Trey Gowdy rose to prominence.

In the spring of 2014 the Arab Spring model of Facebook revolution was exported to Ukraine resulting in the toppling of the government and the subsequent demonstration of "Hybrid war" by the Russian Federation was a shock to the world. The Obama administration imposed economic sanctions on Russia for invading Crimea and kicked Russia out of the G8. In response Russia began to escalate its involvement in the Syrian civil war which now began to take on the characteristics of a proxy war, made dramatically worse when the radical Sunni group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant declared an Islamic Caliphate (June 2014), last abolished by Ataturk in 1924.

It now became widely apparent that American involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, had, after a brief period of liberalization in 2010, allowed radical Islam backed by Iran to take power, and that a dramatic reassessment of the US strategy was necessary. When China began to expand its South China Sea island bases and Russian invaded Crimea, and then intervened directly in Syria, the nature of the crisis became evident. For the remained of Obama's presidency he was wholly on the defensive, reacting to domestic and global crisis, in many ways made worse by his strategic approach to the region. In October 2013 the Republicans also used their control of the House to defund the government, impacting the credit rating of the United States and probably exacerbating or lengthening recovery process. American infrastructure and manufacturing were desperately in need of reform but government spending could not be authorized as a result of Republican opposition. In 2015 Obama attended the Paris Climate Change conference that attempted to form a global consensus on reducing green house gas emissions. Obama had championed energy reform (the infamous Solyndra scandal...) which had a dramatic impact on the Department of Defence, shifting towards domestic sources of fuel to reduce the United State's strategic weakness.

In 2015 the Obama administration under Secretary of State Kerry began to build a coalition to defeat ISIL, while maintaining low-level proxy wars in Ukraine and Syria. The Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTFOIR) that was built up began bombing northern Iraq and Syria. simultaneously a deal was arranged with the Iranian government to attempt to prevent them from nuclearizing. This process of coalition building and Iranian containment was continuing in 2016, and had reached dramatic peak with the invasion of Mosul by coalition forces when the Democrats were removed from power in the 2016 general election.

Looking back on the world of 2008 from 2017 we clearly see that the international security situation collapse in a number of areas. Obama was not directly responsible for some of these, but he was involved in funding and encouraging them as they conveniently removed two despised regional strongmen (Ghadaffi and Mubarak) and promised to do so to another (al-Assad) in Syria. The repeat process removed Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, seen as a positive step for a liberalizing of Eastern Europe.

However, the scale of the crisis and limitations imposed on Obama by fiscal stringency in some areas and political opposition in others seriously curtailed his ability to manage these expanding crisis successfully. However, with the exception of North Korea, which remained completely beyond Obama's ability to influence during his entire presidency, Obama was fairly successful at containing the regional crisis more or less. Armistices in Ukraine and Syria kept the conflict from boiling over, but a refusal to accept al-Assad's brutal regime produced further tension with Russia that raised real concerns about a post-ISIL Iraq and Syria in 2017. The situation when Obama left office was very tense, but not yet a terminal crisis and there were real signs of improvement- the impending victory over ISIL for example. On the other hand, the crisis in Yemen and Ukraine were beginning to accelerate until we reached the situation today, where there are military crisis in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Ukraine and now North Korea all running simultaneously.

Obama's abuses of power, namely the expansion of the government surveillance program, backfired as it produced increases in organized crime, cyberwarfare, and capitalist excesses. Obama was never able to completely close Guantanamo bay for political reasons, however he did curtail enhanced interrogation which he had promised to achieve. Trump pulled the US out of the Paris agreement and did not implement the TPP trade agreement, which would have been major, landmark, aspects of Obama's legacy had Hillary Clinton won the election. On the otherhand, Obamacare has survived and remains the only significant attempt at Health Care reform in American for several decades. I think mainly the catastrophic political crisis in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and the Asian Pacific have made the second term of Obama's presidency stand out over the first, although this distorts the significance of the first term. The world of 2012 was far more stable and secure than the world four years later. But again, Obama was only able to operate with a "free hand" for the two first years of his presidency, and the political opposition he received was significant once the House had been lost.
I selected above average. I see him as similar to Reagan. Very charismatic. I even believe he could have been great had he been an Independent, but he ended up just being a party flunky. How history grades him will be determined by which road we follow.
I base a lot of my view upon the impact he could have had on race relations, but he backed off because it did not serve his party's interests. He started his presidency refusing to place everything on racial terms and had he continued, he may have had a great place in history. Instead, at the end, he embraced promoting division to get Democrats more votes. Therefore, he became just another political hack.
He did not end the war. I think people are shielded from this, but I dealt every day with mentally broken vets that had lost everything. He ran on doing so, and he let the Bush timetable go forth.

He also expanded the use of drones, which expanded a new field of battle that contributed to imperialist aggression.

He was easy on the banks. The rightwing, naturally, tries to have it both way when they whine about the bailout, while pretending to have blind faith in the invisible hand to have not destroyed the economy that they wanted to keep. Hypocritical in intent, predictable in politics.

Even if he had been a Democrat of the FDR mold, or a Republican in the Lincoln mold, he may have been bolder. Instead of bailing out the banks, for instance, let all the bankers lose their money and use the bailout to finance and support the employees that were betrayed by their masters. Less than a half measure for destroying the problem--capitalism--but nonetheless a way to perhaps punish the Wall Street scum and helping the workers.

Overall, because of his acceptance of imperialist war and building structures to keep capitalism and its masters afloat, he was no different than Reagan, Trump, Clinton, Bush, W, etc, etc, etc. The same asshole bankers and CEOs that each had removed lips from cock.

This said, it was really funny to see the rightwing get really wound up because it was a black guy with the same policies and the same position that executed it in the same way as Romney or whoever did was in office.

They get really blubbery and bitchy when you mention that it was becaue he was black they hated him the most, but there is no substantial other reason given beyond, "He accepted Mitt Romney's view of healthcare!" The love of him from Democrats is about race, the hate of him from Republicans is about race. Otherwise, he's exactly like any other fool capitalist.
I think Obama's domestic achievements, in the face of dogged Republican opposition, are significant. His major foreign policy successes were more under the hood and were made to appear dramatically worse by the collapsing security situation in 2014. Obama's abuses of power are undeniable and a black mark against the United States, however, they represent ultimately only the logical continuation of US imperialism so it's not that abnormal. I think if Obama had been defeated in the 2012 election his presidency would have been considered a success.

It only looks like a failure because of the resulting crisis after 2012 of which many of those originated, of course, in Obama's policies during 2008-2010, but were also exacerbated by political gridlock following the 2010 and 2012 elections. Also most of this was obviously Bush's fault for fucking invading Iraq.

So from the perspective of the American hegemony, I'd say Obama was a success and a failure, there's really no way around it, but on balance a success. Obama will be remembered as a good-hearted but possibly misguided accelerationist, wether that is only in the technological sense or also in the sense of the decline of the American empire remains to be seen.

Domestically, he was OK. The ACA was probably the best he could do given Americans' utterly inexplicable love of paying vast sums of money for health insurance that barely covers anything. And I don't care what Republican whiners say, the Dodd-Frank act was good legislation and entirely necessary.

Foreign policy-wise, he essentially continued the neocon project, as far as I can tell. Libya wasn't really his fault - Cameron and Sarkozy get the blame for that one - but he could probably have stopped it if he had any sense (or at least refused to back it). I wasn't at all keen on his enthusiastic use of drone strikes, which seem to have killed hundreds of innocent people without many tangible benefits. Meanwhile, the foolish, gullible US (and UK, of course) intervention on behalf of the jihadist cavemen in Syria has caused untold misery in that country, and the weird decision to keep alienating Russia as much as humanly possible helped contribute to one European war (Ukraine) and may help cause another in the not-too-distant future. Finally, his misguided "back of the queue" intervention in the UK/EU referendum campaign probably helped secure a leave vote, which is the exact opposite of what the US establishment wanted.

On the bright side, the Iranian nuclear deal was a good step towards ending the US's pointless enmity towards Iran.

That being said, all of the above would have happened - and probably been made worse - by any of the alternatives. Imagine if Clinton beat Obama in '08, for instance, or if McCain won the election. It hardly bears thinking about. And Romney would have geared up for war with Iran. So I think Obama gets a "C-" for foreign policy. Bad, but not as bad as it could have been.
Obama ran as a progressive and governed as a conservative passing reforms designed to keep the for-profit healthcare system in place for another generation. He earned a Nobel prize for winning the election and went on to prosecute more wistleblowers than all previous presidents combined, deported more children than any other president, killed thousands with drones, including 4 US citizens and spied on everyone everywhere by default. He even considered prosecuting journalists at one point.

Signed up for a voluntary climate deal with no enforcement mechanism whilst pursuing secretive 'trade' negotiations that would have allowed corporations to sue gov'ts for loss of profits if they put public health or the natural environment ahead of business interests.

Sat on the fence on Keystone XL for as long as possible so environmentalists couldn't move on to other battles.

Negotiated a global ban on HFCs- a potent greenhouse gas used in a.c. units.
Yes, the Noble prize looks exceptionally ridiculous now.

As does the way he cashed out, wind surfing with Richard Branson into the sunset on Marlon Brando's island while his real estate broker worked an 8 million dollar deal for a DC mansion as his literary agent was inking a multi-million dollar book deal.

Yes, surely he was a true idealist.
As does the way he cashed out, wind surfing with Richard Branson into the sunset on Marlon Brando's island while his real estate broker worked an 8 million dollar deal for a DC mansion as his literary agent was inking a multi-million dollar book deal.

Eh, I've always found this sort of attitude to be a little unreasonable. I don't see any particular reason he should have taken a vow of poverty or something. It's not like I wouldn't take millions of dollars nor would I expect anyone else not to take it.

We as a society throw money at the kardashians and people who run around on fields kicking balls for a living at about the same amounts. Complaints about people making money for what you view as the wrong reasons is more a generalized complaint about how our society works than about the particular people who benefit from it.
Perhaps, but I can't imagine going after the easy money unless I had some philanthropic plan for it. :?:
Obamas presidency is below average.


His presidency promised change which it did not provide. Vote for Obama was essentially a vote for hope and change of the system when the middle class is shrinking. He did provide Obamacare but that is hardly enough to provide the said change. On all of the other aspects he was basically George Bush with a more Hawkish foreign policy. He was a charismatic talker but that is only a smoke screen. Compared to Obama, Bush did average. (A bit better)

Bush lived in a different time though, before the recession people were not desperate for change. So Bush was more or less a vote to keep the status quo that he did. He was Hawkish but not over the top Hawkish. You can compare his response to Russian-Georgian war during his presidency. His is not remembered kindly simply because he was not a charismatic talker.

The Global recession was not something that anybody predicted, so it is very hard to blame him for it. Also the recession itself was not caused by Bush but by a collective decision making process that spanned several presidencies.

Outcome: Well, the outcome is Trump. Without Obamas failure, there could not be a Trump. Since Obama was not able to deliver change, the people have elected a radical candidate who promised even more change. Whenever Trump can deliver or not will depend on him.
Outcome: Well, the outcome is Trump. Without Obamas failure, there could not be a Trump. Since Obama was not able to deliver change, the people have elected a radical candidate who promised even more change. Whenever Trump can deliver or not will depend on him.

The American people seem to want a revolution without a revolution. They are inevitably going to be disappointed.
Perhaps, but I can't imagine going after the easy money unless I had some philanthropic plan for it.

I can totally imagine going after easy money and figuring out what to do with it afterwards.

His presidency promised change which it did not provide.

The president has a lot of power but people want him to be a dictator unless he's doing something they don't like in which case they are very happy that he can be pretty much totally hobbled by the other parts of the government.

Change will never be fast and spectacular in the american system.
Potemkin wrote:The American people seem to want a revolution without a revolution. They are inevitably going to be disappointed.

Succinct and right on target as always. Your post is why 'one liners' should not be taboo. We even want to fight our wars without anyone getting hurt. :lol:
As a moderate to right leaning president he did pretty well. He was more conservative than liberal and was very good for the economy. He was Bill Clinton smart but with the demeanor of a likable professor. He was good for the country and for the world. History will be kind to him.

One could also just say, "How do you like him now?"

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