The Obama presidency is a failed presidency. He has presided over one of the slowest economic recoveries in history. His foreign policy has been a disaster. ObamaCare is a mess. And it’s hard to lay the blame off on anyone else. The president didn’t make Republicans part of any of his decisions and most of the time he ignored congressional Democrats as well.
To make matters worse, Barack Obama is the most polarizing president we have had in the past 60 years. What makes that so strange is that we were all promised something completely different.
Charles Blow, writing in The New York Times said it best:
"The president came to Washington thinking he could change Washington, make it better, unite it and the nation."
On the campaign trail he [Obama} promised to:
"… turn the page on the ugly partisanship in Washington, so we can bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass an agenda that works for the American people."
In his first inaugural address, he [Obama] said:
"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics."
So what happened? Blow’s column is an early entry into the liberal re-writing of the history of the Obama administration. He wants to blame everything on Republicans. But that doesn’t wash. In his last two years in office, Bill Clinton and a Republican congress worked together admirably – giving us welfare reform, a capital gains tax cut and a balanced budget. There’s nothing in the Republican DNA to keep that from happening again.
So what’s the real reason for the failed presidency of Barrack Obama? I don’t know. Maybe he was never serious about bringing everyone together. Maybe he doesn’t know how. Maybe he is a talker, not a doer. (See Megan McArdle: Does Obama Even Know How to Negotiate?)
Take his signature piece of legislation: ObamaCare. As I wrote during the 2008 election, John McCain was the real radical on health reform.. McCain’s plan called for giving every single citizen the same tax subsidy for health insurance. Such a plan is more progressive than the Obama health plan. It’s not only fair, it would have involved more redistribution of income than Obama was calling for. (The legislative version of the McCain plan was the Coburn/Burr/Ryan/Nunes bill.)
So if McCain’s health plan was more liberal (in a sense) than Obama’s, bringing the two parties together should have been easy. Furthermore, prior to becoming President Obama’s economic adviser, Jason Furman endorsed a health reform that looked very much like the John McCain proposal. And Ezekiel Emanuel, the White House doctor who helped fashion ObamaCare, actually urged the president to copy the McCain approach.
Had Barack Obama endorsed John McCain’s health plan, it would have sailed through Congress with huge bi-partisan support. At a very minimum, the president could have asked John McCain and Max Baucus (the Democrat chairman of Senate Finance Committee) to chair a task force to write a reform plan. After all, no major reform of the health care system is going to succeed without buy-in from both parties.
Yet none of this was to be. Ultimately, the political advisors, led by David Axelrod, prevailed. And to satisfy partisan political motives, the president signed on to a piece of legislation that got not a single Republican vote in Congress.
Health care is not the only area where bipartisan solutions should have been easy. On foreign policy, Republicans are more inclined to support the president’s military actions abroad than Democrats. Yet here is another missed opportunity.
The failure to unite the country doesn’t end with the president’s activities in Washington. He has actively participated in efforts to create racial division throughout the land.
Democrats have been using fear and race-polarizing agitation to drive minority voters to the polls for quite some time. But as I wrote at Town Hall the other day, we have never before had a president and a First Lady who participated in spearheading the race baiting efforts.
The Obama presidency has been a huge disappointment. And that’s an understatement.