9 things Obama will be remembered for

If historians wrote only one thing about Barack Obama they would likely note that 143 years after slavery a young Illinois senator became the first black president of the US AFP

WASHINGTON —

As Barack Obama prepares to leave office on January 20, here are nine things his presidency may be remembered for:

- Making history -

If historians were to write only one thing about Barack Hussein Obama, they would likely note that—143 years after slavery was abolished—a young Illinois senator became the first black president of the United States.

Obama, just 47 at his 2009 inauguration, harnessed magisterial oratory to rally a diverse electoral coalition behind a message of “hope and change.”

In office, Obama sometimes struggled to turn that poetry into the prose of governance. Racial tensions—underscored by police shootings of unarmed black men and conspiracy theories about his birthplace—persisted.

But the very fact of his election confirmed monumental changes in American society.

- Too big to fail -

Obama’s first term in office was dominated by economic freefall.

A real estate crisis spawned a financial meltdown that torpedoed Wall Street banks and lenders, and was metastasizing into an economic crisis of global proportions.

Outgoing president George W. Bush and the Federal Reserve had kicked off the government’s first panicked efforts at containment, but Obama faced down ideological opposition to large fiscal stimulus, extending government spending by $831 billion and providing ballast to the economy.

As he leaves office, the political and social aftershocks of that financial cataclysm are still being felt, but the economy has added jobs for 75 straight months.

- ‘Justice has been done’ -

“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.”

With those words on May 2, 2011, Obama exorcised the anger and frustration of millions of Americans—that the most powerful country on earth could not hold the man accountable for the 9/11 attacks.

The risky special forces operation was also illustrative of Obama’s controversial drone-and-raid approach to counterterrorism. As he leaves office, Al-Qaeda offshoots and affiliates remain potent, but their leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been decimated.

- Legislative toil -

“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency—that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” Obama said in his final State of the Union address.

From the moment Obama was elected,  Republics in Congress vowed to oppose him tooth and nail.

Efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and enact gun controls—even after the massacre of young students at Sandy Hook, the emotional nadir of his presidency—would fall victim to partisan rancor.

- A deal with a half-life -

For more than two decades, the United States had rolled out sanctions and covert actions to prevent arch foe Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Obama tried a different tack, engaging in secret talks with the Islamic Republic.

That gambit ultimately yielded a deal that saw Iran halt its sprint toward a nuclear weapon, in return for substantial sanctions relief and a dollop of international legitimacy.

The pact would strain US relations with Iran’s enemies Israel and Saudi Arabia, but prevented a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and defused tensions between Iran and the United States that have simmered since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

- No turnabout on Syria -

No international crisis tested Obama’s foreign policy or his high bar for US military intervention like Syria.

Even when Bashar al-Assad defied Obama’s red line on chemical weapons use and killed countless thousands of civilians—along with Russian and Iranian forces—the man who came to office on an anti-war ticket rejected calls to step in.

Syria will likely be in crisis for years to come.

Critics will long argue about whether Obama’s policy was sensible and to what degree his decision damaged America’s reputation, allowed the Islamic State group to grow, fueled an immigration flow that destabilized Europe and allowed Russia and Iran to extend influence in the region.

- Change the climate -

After the climate skepticism of Bush, Obama’s eight years in office resulted in a tidal wave of environmental legislation, protecting marine ecosystems, curbing carbon emissions and boosting renewable energy.

In a bid to engrain environmentalism into America’s body politic, Obama hiked Alaskan glaciers, snorkeled at Midway Island and rushed through ratification of the Paris Climate Accord.

But Obama’s environmental agenda is likely to come under sustained assault from his successor, putting the durability of that legacy into question.

- A very big deal -

Democrats had tried and failed for decades to provide Americans with universal health care. Obama wasn’t quite able to do that but he extended insurance coverage to tens of millions of citizens who previously had none.

Republicans decried the “Obamacare” plan as socialism incarnate, at one point claiming it would even create “death panels.” But they failed to stop it from passing. They may yet have a crack at repealing it under Donald Trump’s watch.

- Meet the neighbors -

Obama’s trip to Cuba may be remembered in the same way as Richard Nixon’s visit to China, but in truth it was the capstone of a much broader effort to improve US relations with Latin America.

Resurgent left wing populists in the region had rekindled past memories of “yanqui imperialism”—US-led coups, death squads and heavy-handed intervention.

Barely 100 days after Obama took office, he told regional leaders at a Summit of the Americas that the United States had changed. The approach was to deny leaders like Hugo Chavez any excuses for sideshow anti-Americanism.

He shook Chavez’s hand, met Nicaraguan firebrand Daniel Ortega and visited the tomb of a popular Salvadoran priest killed by US-linked death squads.

Obama alluded to “mistakes” in a coup that installed dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile, released documents about involvement in Argentina’s dirty war and, of course, visited Havana.

© 2017 AFP

Author Infomation

AFP
AFP
  • -8

    theFu

    Was a US senator for only 3 yrs of a 6 year term. Gave 3 days notice for leaving the senate position. It is common to give 2 weeks notice leaving any job, but at least he waited until November.

    Something about getting a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing too. The Nobel committed should be embarrassed about that. Ah .. they are http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34277960?post_id=641257059307725_682012315232199:

    Nobel secretary regrets Obama peace prize

    Him being black is something the older generation thinks is a big deal. I suppose it is. Never entered my mind, except for small minded people being mean towards him and his family. That still happens today, sadly. Race and color doesn't have any place in politics, IMHO.

  • -12

    BertieWooster

    theFu,

    You nailed it!

  • -18

    MsDelicious

    They forgot to mention that he will definitely be remembered for BLM and for Benghazi.

    By the way, he is only so called Half Black. Why do people keep forgetting that? How come people don't praise his other half? My opinion is that both haves matter and make you the person you become. Fathers count.

    I wish him luck in private life.

  • 7

    Strangerland

    I'll remember him for being classy in the face of absolute ridiculousness. Imagine if he was a Twitterer like Trump, the kinds of things he would have said over the past eight years? After being accused of not being American because of his name over and over?

    The US just went through eight years of respectability in the eyes of the world, and is already looking foolish before the new president has even been put into office.

  • -7

    mt9334

    I will remember him as a leader that further drove the nation in the direction he intended it to go. He was relentless in his pursuit of following his goal of "change". That not all "change" is desirable, or that not all change is "progress" is what many who disagree with his worldview would hold.

  • -12

    turbotsat

    I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to him, but my guess is he got butthurt when things didn't go his away, especially losing control of Congress, and his avowal of bipartisanship probably went out the window at that point. Because he's been junior in everything he's tried, because he's jumped around a lot. As theFu said, he had very little experience even as a senator. And senators don't manage much beyond their offices, suddenly you want them to manage the entire country?

  • 7

    Strangerland

    he got butthurt

    My pledge. In an effort to heal the division between the sides (at least on this site), I'm going to stop using inflammatory language like 'butthurt', and try to stick with objective language instead, so as to keep discussions to the facts, rather than the emotions.

    I don't know if I'll succeed, but anyone feel free to call me out if I do it.

  • 0

    Strangerland

    Reminds me of quitting smoking :)

  • -14

    bass4funk

    I'll remember him as a divider and as a man that cared more about ideology than the country, I will remember a man that put his self-interests and his party over the people he was sworn to protect. I will remember him for never listening to the people and never taking responsibility of accountability for anything that didn't fit his narrative. Other than that, I do believe he is a good and caring father.

  • -11

    Wolfpack

    Obama will be best remembered for the $20 trillion debt that he has burdened the country with. As a candidate he called a debt half as large un-American. He will also be remembered for the racial divide he created by inappropriately involving himself in local law enforcement matters always smearing white people for racism when the facts showed otherwise. And don't forget his 17 years as a member of a black supremacist church. He will be remembered for aiding America's enemies (ISIS, Iran, Russia, Cuba) and attacking it's allies (Britain, Israel, Poland). He expanded executive power to unprecedented levels with his phone and pen - which Trump will readily exploit to undue large portions of the damage he has done. He has openly defied immigration laws with his open borders policy. He has been the most ideologically inflexible president since Wilson and has time after time sold out the interests of his own country for the sake of the "international community". He passed the first law in American history that taxed American's for nothing other than breathing.

    Just 10 more days and he is gone. I sure hope the White House door doesn't knock him over on his way out.

  • 11

    Strangerland

    Obama will be best remembered for the $20 trillion debt that he has burdened the country with.

    No, he'll be remembered as the guy who followed the president who caused the economy to spiral into a situation that resulted in a $20 trillion debt. The burdening was done by Bush.

  • -12

    Wolfpack

    The burdening was done by Bush.

    I get it, Dems are never responsible for what they do. It's always someone else's fault. I guess you will have to get used to hearing how Obama is responsible for everything that goes wrong over the next four years. No? Of course not - it's always heads I win, tales you lose.

  • 9

    Strangerland

    I get it, Dems are never responsible for what they do.

    You would say that while literally trying to blame Obama for the problems that Bush caused.

    I guess you will have to get used to hearing how Obama is responsible for everything that goes wrong over the next four years.

    It depends - if something goes wrong as a result of policies he put in place, then he should rightfully be blamed for them, same as he should be credited for the things that go right for the next few years due to things he put in place. But if something goes wrong because of Trump's policies, then Trump will have the blame for that.

    You seem to think I'm making these judgements based on party affiliation, but the fact is I make the judgement based on the actions of whoever caused the situation.

  • 11

    PTownsend

    In reading Trump's tweets and listening to him speak I remember how articulate Obama is and how calm he has remained throughout his 8 years in office. Obama came across as a mature, intelligent, evenly balanced man, in total contrast to the person who's replacing him.

  • 1

    okochat

    We all know a country is not run by "One MAN"

  • 6

    goldorak

    I'll remember him for being classy in the face of absolute ridiculousness. Imagine if he was a Twitterer like Trump, the kinds of things he would have said over the past eight years? After being accused of not being American because of his name over and over? The US just went through eight years of respectability in the eyes of the world, and is already looking foolish before the new president has even been put into office.

    Great post stranger, exactly the way I see it too. Will also remember Obama as the only US president to ever stand up to the NRA and Israel, albeit in vain. He's also the only potus who didn't simplify/caricature the world we live in as 'good vs evil', 'west vs east' and other 'us vs them' clichés. Best US first lady ever, too.

    PS: I do realise though that we non-americans may see Obama through rose-tinted glasses as, after all, we didn't live under his domestic policies.

  • -8

    Nashiyama

    I'll remember Mr. Obama as our most eloquacious President ever. He could read a teleprompter almost like a pro. I’m not sure he had any ideas that weren’t rooted in black liberation theology and social justice and like evil nonsense. Hopefully, after retirement he can get a job he’s qualified for and be happy in it. Cheers and all the best.

  • 6

    igloobuyer

    With a man-child bafoon coming into power in a few days, the world is going to miss one of the most popular, articulate, measured, calm, balanced and intelligent leaders America has seen since Clinton.

  • 6

    Strangerland

    social justice and like evil nonsense

    Wow, social justice is evil nonsense.

    It's crazy that we live in a day and age where justice for the people is considered evil.

  • 4

    Aly Rustom

    With a man-child bafoon coming into power in a few days, the world is going to miss one of the most popular, articulate, measured, calm, balanced and intelligent leaders America has seen since Clinton.

    Very well said igloo. 100% on the money

    Wow, social justice is evil nonsense. It's crazy that we live in a day and age where justice for the people is considered evil.

    We are returning to the days of racism and fascism all over the world my friend. Dark days ahead.

  • 3

    katsu78

    Obama turned the failing economy of his predecessor into a growing economy, turned a healthcare system with some of the worst outcomes at the highest expense in the world into a system that is so effective even it's critics are actually afraid to cut it, and actually got Osama bin Laden almost 8 years to the day after his predecessor made a big deal of landing on an aircraft carrier with a banner reading "Mission Accomplished", but probably the most important achievement of Obama is making everyone who hates the US having a black president go apoplectic at the mere mention of his name.

  • -1

    scoobydoo

    With the nobel peace prize he ushered in more nuclear proliferation than any other administration and perpetual war. Good job, fooled all you supporters, and still is.

  • 5

    Kurobune

    Otsukaresama, President Obama. You did what you had to do, and I, (and I am sure many others), are proud to have had you and Michelle as our "First Couple" Can't wait to hear your "farewell" speech tonight ! (9p on east coast, USA)

  • -2

    Cliffy

    Unable to deal with Putin (well who in the world was able to anyway) and splash cold water between US/Isreal relationship.

  • -1

    Serrano

    The 32% increase in people receiving food stamps since Obama took office.

  • -1

    mukashiyokatta

    And here is Number 10: failing to fight back against the Republicans.

  • 1

    ThePBot

    "most important achievement of Obama is making everyone who hates the US having a black president go apoplectic at the mere mention of his name."

    Unfortunately, that caused part of the Trump phenomenon .

  • 0

    MsDelicious

    Will Obama's mom and dad be at his final fair well speech? That would be really cool.

  • 2

    katsu78

    ThePBotJAN. 11, 2017 - 01:15AM JST Unfortunately, that caused part of the Trump phenomenon .

    Let's not gaslight. The blame for Trump supporters' hatred belongs on the supporters who hate, not the person who is the target of their hatred. Blaming Obama for Trump is like blaming black people for the KKK.

  • -3

    Wolfpack

    You would say that while literally trying to blame Obama for the problems that Bush caused.

    I don't remember Bush pushing for laws to stop "red-lining" - which is code for blaming banks as racist for not giving loans to people who cannot pay them back. Guess what? They couldn't pay them back. It was also a good strategy for demagogues like Jesse Jackson to shake down companies for cash infusions into his Rainbow/Push professional protest organization. This one is on the fiscally irresponsible Dems and particularly Barney Frank. But hey, why not blame Bush - what the heck!

  • 2

    inkochi

    The Nobel Peace Prize at the start was a bit over the top, but the Nobel people once gave their Medicine Prize to the guy who invented electronic shock therapy and lobotomies.

    Later Obama grew into the job. After 8 years of his predecessor's inarticulation and the incoming Tweeting twot, Obama could be remembered for some statesmanship.

    About dividing America more, my own observation is that too many people there in their commentary about and around Obama is that they will never escape their skin-colour obsessing. Further, much of the same commentary recalls Abraham Lincoln's early speech about a house divided against itself, rather than anybody doing the dividing for them.

    Obama will be missed, unlike GW Bush, who daresay is hardly missed at all.

  • -2

    pointofview

    Obama is popular in Japan because of there is a town with the same name. Hes popular in America because celebrities like him. Hes popular in the world because lefty media protects him. Seems to be a good dad though.

  • 0

    Strangerland

    Obama is popular in Japan because of there is a town with the same name.

    No, Obama is popular in Japan because he's been a good president, and in particular as of recent, because he visited Hiroshima. The town of the same name is just a funny coincidence.

    But hey, don't let me disrupt the false narrative you're trying to create.

  • 0

    pointofview

    Nah. I remember the commotion when he was running. Japanese overall know nothing about his presidency. In fact, Ive done a few questionnaires over the years and the most common responses as to why they liked him were 1. Hes cool. 2. Nice smile. 3. Better than Bush.

  • -1

    Strangerland

    I remember the commotion when he was running.

    Sure, it was something they talked about and found interesting.

    But you are using reductionist reasoning to boil their liking of Obama down to that single point. It's a false narrative.

    Japanese overall know nothing about his presidency.

    They have reported on him regularly for the past eight years. Do you not watch the Japanese news? Maybe they don't report domestic issues, but the Japanese are very knowledgeable on his stance and actions towards Japan.

    In fact, Ive done a few questionnaires over the years and the most common responses as to why they liked him were 1. Hes cool. 2. Nice smile. 3. Better than Bush.

    Well great, now we have an official scientifically conducted poll with a proper degree of error. Good job!

  • 1

    theFu

    I will remember President Obama for 2 more things.

    a) Not having any scandals. Think Reagan was the last time that happened. He was a good person (his actions show that), even if I disagree with his politics. President Carter was also a good person, just unprepared for the situation.

    b) Increasing state spying on citizens while claiming to reduce it as a campaign promise http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/jun/13/barack-obama-surveillance-then-and-now/ Gotta love that huge Utah NSA data center, NOT! https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/01/obama-expands-surveillance-powers-his-way-out

  • -2

    turbotsat

    theFu: a) Not having any scandals.

    I don't know why you said that. After Valerie Jarrett tried to claim that lots of articles popped up with lists of Obama scandals.

    Googling news for 'obama scandals' does show HuffPo leading the hits, with articles trying to ridicule the very idea. But serious articles are turned up as well:

    The Obama Era Had Scandals Aplenty, The Weekly Standard

    The “No Scandals” Obama Administration Revisited, Accuracy in Media

    Video: A Look Back at the 'Scandal Free' Obama Administration, TownHall

    18 Major Scandals in Obama’s ‘Scandal-Free’ Presidency, Breitbart News

    One wonders what kind of filtering is going on at Google News, that all the leading hits, above 'View All', are attempts 'splain away the very idea of scandals during the Obama administration.

  • 0

    Wolfpack

    With four days left Obama adds to his failures by pardoning the traitor Pvt. Bradley Manning. That just about nails down Obama's title as worst president in American history. Sure, Trump has potential for this title but he hasn't taken office yet so Obama's infamy is safe for now.

  • 0

    Strangerland

    With four days left Obama adds to his failures by pardoning the traitor Pvt. Bradley Manning. That just about nails down Obama's title as worst president in American history.

    I'm guessing that the people outraged that Chelsea Manning released these documents are the same people who are praising the release of Hillary's emails.

    She spent seven years in jail. Seems like pretty adequate punishment to me.

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