Barack Obama has been talking a lot about the "last eight years" recently. It feels as though he could be referring to the length of the current presidential campaign, but he's actually asking voters to evaluate President Bush's job performance. Fair enough. President Bush is extremely unpopular as he leaves office, and the Democrats were destined to try to run against him—even though he's not on the ballot. While many people aren't pleased with Bush's record, replacing him is a solemn decision and requires the election of a man or woman who is prepared and qualified to serve. Voters ought to expand their judgment of the last eight years by factoring Barack Obama into the equation. What, precisely, has the Democratic nominee for president done in the past eight years? Attempting to meaningfully answer this question proves rather difficult.
Despite its improbable twists and turns, one thing hasn't changed over the course of this endless election: When put on the spot, Obama's supporters are unable to name a significant concrete accomplishment he's managed in his entire professional career. In February, Sean Hannity asked a Democratic focus group to list Obama's accomplishments. Their stirring responses ranged from "he gave a great speech" to "pass." Prior to the Texas and Ohio primaries, Chris Matthews interrogated Kirk Watson, an Obama surrogate, on the same point. "I'm not going to be able to [answer] that," he responded. "One of the things Senator Obama does is he inspires," he added, convincingly. Just last week, Obama backer Jeffrey Sachs was confronted with a similar query from Joe Scarborough. Sachs replied that Obama had "[brought] the country together on a new direction." In case that wasn't sufficiently persuasive, he offered a follow-up. "He's defined a way to achieve energy and new approaches for this country."
There's a reason for these stammering evasions: Barack Obama—love him or hate him—simply does not own any significant legislative accomplishments. Indeed, his greatest career achievements have been the successful attainment of higher office. Obama's last eight years consisted of serving as an unremarkable part-time State Senator, voting "present" on dozens of tough issues, running unsuccessfully for Congress, giving a popular speech at the 2004 DNC, and winning a US Senate seat after consecutive rival campaigns collapsed under the weight of prodigious scandal.