When "presidential politics experts" ranked all presidents, past and current, the headlines typically focused on Trump’s position at the bottom of the list. After one year—a year with a booming economy, increased business and consumer confidence, and significant gains on the foreign policy front—they have concluded that Trump is the worst president of all time. There’s no chance of any partisan bias there, right?
Trump's record is certainly up for debate, but even famed liberal pollster Nate Silver wrote off the rankings as partisan garbage in a tweet. "It speaks poorly to the field of presidential scholarship that political scientists have Trump ranked as the worst president of all time **after only one year on the job**, below presidents who e.g. helped blunder us into the Civil War & Great Depression." Trump has, so far, presided over the most optimistic year for Americans in the last decade. His tax cuts were initially highly unpopular, but those poll numbers shifted as soon as the paychecks came. His foreign policy victories are numerous, including the defeat of ISIS, the end of the era of appeasement of North Korea, and the hardening of diplomatic relations with Iran after its repeated abuses of former President Barack Obama’s good will. His only crimes were being rude on Twitter and defeating Hillary Clinton.
But, what is more disturbing than their confident lambasting of Trump after only one year is their placement of Barack Obama after eight long years of a miserable, divided America filled with stagnation, corruption, and terrorist attacks. They placed him tenth on the list. This ranking is not isolated either. A 2017 C-SPAN survey of presidential historians put Obama in 12th place. The desire to inflate Obama’s historical standing is widespread.
Were these experts blissfully unaware of Obama's failings and scandals? Perhaps some of these so-called scholars might have been ignorant—the media did its best to conceal the dirty details of Obama’s fatally unethical and ruthlessly unconstitutional administration—but, that's no excuse. An expert is supposed to be an authority on a particular subject, and not at the mercy of biased media reporting or their own political leanings. They’re supposed to do research, read from primary sources on all sides of any argument, and come to objective conclusions.
But, to demonstrate the absurdity of these rankings, let's discuss some of the things that apparently these scholars believe gives a president top-ten status:
- Obama presided over the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression, plagued by stagnant wages and low labor force participation.
- Not only did job growth not keep up with population growth, but 95 percent of the jobs created on his watch were part-time or contract jobs.
- He is the only president in history to have never had a single year with at least 3% GDP growth.
- Even when adjusted for inflation Obama has 8 of the top 10 deficits in history, and racked up more debt than all past presidents combined.
- America’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history on Obama’s watch.
- His job approval ratings were the most politically polarized in history.
- Not once during his presidency did a majority of Americans believe the country was headed in the right direction.
- He won reelection with 7.6 million fewer votes than he did in 2008, and was the first president to lose electoral and popular support in his second election. His party also lost over 1,000 seats nationwide on his watch.
- Despite being a former “constitutional law professor” he has the worst record before the Supreme Court of any modern presidency.
- He was an unquestioned enemy of the press, spying on reporters and prosecuting journalists and whistleblowers from the AP to Fox News to CBS. According to journalist and former New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan, the ability of the press to report freely on the government was "under siege," by the Obama administration.
- He regularly alienated America’s allies and kowtowed to our enemies.
- He is responsible for destabilizing Libya, and the rise of ISIS.
- Despite promises of making healthcare affordable, Obamacare raised premiums and deductibles, making health care costs the top financial concern of Americans, according to Gallup.
- Race relations declined significantly on his watch.
- His inability to work with Congress meant he signed fewer bills than even some one-term presidents and fostered a dangerous precedent of executive overreach.
Obama was also plagued by more than two dozen scandals including: Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the VA scandal, Solyndra, the OPM hacking scandal, the GSA scandal, the Iran Ransom scandal, Uranium One, Project Cassandra, the FISA abuse scandal currently being unraveled… just to name a few. Sure, many in the media claim Obama was “scandal-free”, but any presidential scholar worth their salt can’t write off every single scandal as inconsequential.
Considering these facts, how can any presidential expert believe Obama is a top ten president? Did these experts forget all about these, or conveniently ignore them in order to perpetuate the narrative that America’s first black president was also one of the nation’s best—standing alongside Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Reagan and Truman? Are they so easily influenced by the media and popular culture that they’ve forgotten how to be objective analysts of history?
One final note: a truly honest and objective historian will always tell you that a real assessment of any leader cannot be made for decades after he leaves office because distance grants them a more balanced perspective and allows them to see the impacts of his legacy on future events. An objective assessment of Obama’s presidency might be decades away, but the foundation is being laid down now to inflate his successes and cover up his failures and scandals. There’s a saying that “history is written by victors,” and, in the past, that may have been true. But, today, history is written by the media, pop culture, and academia—and all three are conspiring to write a history in a true Orwellian fashion.