TAUBE: Predicting Obama’s legacy
On Nov. 6, Americans chose President Obama over GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. If Mr. Obama’s second term turns out to be anything like his first, the voters will quickly come to regret that decision.
Mr. Obama is a lame-duck president. He is in his final term and won’t be able to run for this particular political office ever again. That being said, each step he takes will have significant implications for his fellow Democrats in 2014 (the midterm elections) and 2016 (the presidential election).
Mr. Obama is in the early stages of building his so-called political legacy. Long before his presidential memoirs are written, his speaking tour is arranged and the groundbreaking ceremony for his presidential library is set, the president’s leadership needs to be evaluated historically in some way, shape or form.
Unless things change dramatically in the next four years, Mr. Obama’s legacy is on pace to rank him among the worst U.S. presidents of all time.
The president’s first term was an unmitigated disaster from an economic standpoint. The eye-popping $833 billion stimulus bill of small tax cuts and wild spending measures passed in February 2009 without a single Republican vote of support. The grotesque auto bailout plan — initiated by President George W. Bush in 2008, with a more extensive contribution from Mr. Obama — has exceeded $80 billion. The multibillion-dollar bailout of once-powerful financial companies such as AIG, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs added to the country’s economic woes. Moreover, monthly unemployment numbers hit record highs, never falling below 7.8 percent and climbing to a staggering 10 percent in October 2009.
With respect to foreign policy, Mr. Obama’s record has been abysmal. Osama bin Laden, the vicious terrorist leader of al Qaeda, was killed under his administration’s watch — and that’s a good thing. Yet, early on in his presidency, Mr. Obama supported the philosophy that “strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries.” This political greenhorn was therefore open to building relationships with the same tyrants and despots who hated — and in certain cases, wanted to obliterate — the United States.
Meanwhile, the important communications term “war on terrorism” was replaced by the Obama White House with an ivory-tower-inspired travesty: “overseas contingency operation.” The president’s soft-on-terrorism stance, often seen in his lukewarm reactions to Middle Eastern conflicts and the growing threat of radical Islam in Europe, turned off many Americans.
Do not be surprised if the U.S. economy gets even worse during Mr. Obama’s second term. For one thing, the president, who claims to be “open to compromise” in negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff, cannot resist the left-wing impulse to soak the rich with higher income taxes. Social spending measures on everything from education to the environment are likely to skyrocket. Obamacare will become a reality, and the total cost of running a public health care program — which reportedly could reach $1 trillion — likely will be a financial mess for generations to come. Trade liberalization also will be a mixed bag because this particular liberal president has minimal respect for free trade and private enterprise.
Foreign policy also will continue to decline. The United States eventually will be out of Afghanistan, meaning that war-torn country’s ultimate fate will be a huge question mark. There’s a possibility the detention center at Guantanamo Bay will be closed down, causing some dangerous terrorists to be returned to their countries of origin. Israel already has started fighting with Syria and could have to go on its own against Iran because of Mr. Obama’s dithering. The war on terrorism will barely be discussed in public. Threats posed by North Korea and other dangerous regimes will largely be ignored. Finally, more emphasis on the bungling mess known as the United Nations will become a priority.
In 1947, Sir Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” In the face of Mr. Obama’s terrible first-term economic and foreign-policy records, it’s astonishing that more than 50 percent of Americans re-elected him. Yet the democracy Americans would defend with their dying breath gave this president a second term. Elections work in mysterious ways.
Michael Taube is a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.