The po­lar­iz­ing pres­i­dent

Barack Obama pre­pares to go down in his­tory, and the ques­tion is, how far?

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Toot­ing your own horn is one way to make sure your tune gets heard. Barack Obama wants to fin­ish his pres­i­dency on a high note, so he’s ar­gu­ing his own case for a good grade. How­ever, he will learn, as pres­i­dents be­fore him, that his legacy is not his to de­fine, but for the peo­ple to de­cide whether he de­serves to be im­mor­tal­ized on Mount Rush­more or merely to have his name on a pres­i­den­tial li­brary on the south side of Chicago.

Pres­i­dent Obama de­scribed how he would like to be re­mem­bered last week at his end-of-the-year press con­fer­ence: “By so many mea­sures, our coun­try is stronger and more pros­per­ous than it was when we started. That’s a sit­u­a­tion that I’m proud to leave for my suc­ces­sor.” Ev­ery pres­i­dent lives in a bub­ble, fash­ioned by his world­view and re­in­forced by the “yes men” who live in the bub­ble with him. But Mr. Obama has had only ayes for the left.

A sur­vey by the Pew Re­search Cen­ter finds that 88 per­cent of Democrats ap­prove of the his job per­for­mance, but only 15 per­cent of Repub­li­cans do. “Obama’s av­er­age job rat­ing over the course of his pres­i­dency is more po­lit­i­cally po­lar­ized than any pres­i­dent dat­ing to Dwight Eisen­hower,” the sur­vey­ors con­cluded.

Re­spon­dents named Oba­macare as the is­sue for which the pres­i­dent will be most re­mem­bered. (Who could ar­gue?) The pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture mea­sure sailed through Congress eas­ily, with Se­nate ap­proval on Christ­mas Eve, 2009, without a sin­gle Repub­li­can vote. The legacy of Oba­macare is that it is to be first in line for the chop­ping block when Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion opens for busi­ness on the af­ter­noon of Jan. 20.

Mr. Obama of­ten spurned the art of per­sua­sion in deal­ing with the nat­u­ral par­ti­san re­sis­tance from the mi­nor­ity party, in­vok­ing what he calls the author­ity to gov­ern with pen and phone rather than by hard-earned con­sen­sus. He has reaped the fruit of over­reach, par­tic­u­larly anger about his pres­i­den­tial ex­ec­u­tive or­ders that lib­er­al­ized the na­tion’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies. It was largely anger at watch­ing their coun­try and cul­ture trans­formed by the flow of il­le­gal aliens that turned Amer­i­cans against Mr. Obama’s hand­picked suc­ces­sor, Hil­lary Clin­ton.

“Part­ing is such sweet sor­row,” wrote Shake­speare, and Pew’s sur­vey af­firms the in­sight of the Bard’s ob­ser­va­tion as vot­ers are warm­ing at last to the pres­i­dent as they see him be­gin­ning to pack up to go to a new home. Some 46 per­cent say they ex­pect him to be seen as an above av­er­age or out­stand­ing pres­i­dent, and 26 per­cent pre­dict he’ll be con­sid­ered av­er­age; an­other 27 per­cent fore­cast be­low av­er­age. It’s un­likely, how­ever, that the pres­i­dent can match Ron­ald Rea­gan’s stel­lar num­bers: When the Gip­per rode off into the sun­set, 59 per­cent rated him as above av­er­age or out­stand­ing. But this is sen­ti­ment, not a his­to­rian’s cool judg­ment.

If Oba­macare is re­pealed and re­placed, as promised, the sec­ond-most cited Obama achieve­ment is safe. He will al­ways be Amer­ica’s first black pres­i­dent. Mil­lions of vot­ers of ev­ery shade of color thought the na­tion’s past racial sins would be re­deemed by a black man in the Oval Of­fice. Wiser now, Amer­i­cans un­der­stand that they’ll have to wait a lit­tle longer for a uni­fier than Barack Obama has proved that he is not.

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