Delu­sional, de­fen­sive Obama can’t see a legacy in tat­ters

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - MATT MACKOWIAK Matt Mackowiak is the pres­i­dent of Po­tomac Strat­egy Group, a Re­pub­li­can con­sul­tant, a Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion and Bush-Cheney re-elec­tion cam­paign vet­eran, and for­mer press sec­re­tary to two U.S. sen­a­tors. He is the host of a new na­tional polit

With only weeks left in his pres­i­dency, Pres­i­dent Obama has been re­duced to is­su­ing un­prov­able boasts, sound­ing like the se­nior quar­ter­back at a small high school. In a re­cent in­ter­view on “The Axe Files” pod­cast with for­mer se­nior strate­gist David Ax­el­rod — which makes you won­der if Mr. Obama’s blood rel­a­tives were un­avail­able to in­ter­view him — the pres­i­dent claimed he would have been re-elected to a third term had he been al­lowed to run again. Per­haps con­ser­va­tives should cheer, as the pres­i­dent fi­nally ap­pears to ap­pre­ci­ate the con­sti­tu­tional con­straints of his of­fice, but here’s the real take­away from this soft­ball in­ter­view with a South Side Chicago pal.

Mr. Obama is ei­ther reel­ing or delu­sional. The truth is, his pres­i­dency is crum­bling as he de­parts.

Let’s rum­mage through the wreck­age:

● While he ex­its with ap­proval rat­ings above 50 per­cent, Mr. Obama is stun­ningly pass­ing the ba­ton to the most con­tro­ver­sial pres­i­dent-elect in a gen­er­a­tion, af­ter a cam­paign that many ob­servers thought was a guar­an­teed vic­tory for the Democrats. The 2016 elec­tion was a re­pu­di­a­tion of Mr. Obama’s poli­cies, as seven in 10 vot­ers wanted change, ul­ti­mately de­liv­er­ing 306 (ac­tu­ally 304) elec­toral votes to Don­ald Trump.

● The econ­omy con­tin­ues to grow at the slow­est rate fol­low­ing an eco­nomic de­pres­sion. While it is true Mr. Obama in­her­ited a re­ces­sion, he dou­bled the na­tional debt in eight years and has lit­tle to show for it, as in­come in­equal­ity has wors­ened on his watch and wages have re­mained flat. There has been slow and steady pos­i­tive job growth, but eco­nomic growth has been ane­mic and the shift from full­time to part-time em­ploy­ment, along with per­va­sive long-term and youth unem­ploy­ment, have left mil­lions of Amer­i­cans be­hind.

● Oba­macare, the pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture do­mes­tic achieve­ment, is ob­jec­tively and un­de­ni­ably fail­ing, with rates and pre­mi­ums go­ing up, states can­cel­ing their ex­changes, and ma­jor health in­sur­ers ei­ther back­ing out or con­sid­er­ing do­ing so. The end of Oba­macare is a ques­tion of if, not when.

● His for­eign pol­icy ri­vals Jimmy Carter’s as a historic dis­as­ter. His pre­cip­i­tous, po­lit­i­cal and ir­ra­tional pullout from Iraq cre­ated the space for Is­lamic State to flour­ish. His “red line” com­ment about chem­i­cal weapons in Syria, which was un­wise in the first place, em­bold­ened the dic­ta­tor Bashar As­sad when Mr. Obama did not back up his words. At­tempt­ing to “re­set” re­la­tions with Rus­sia has pro­duced almost noth­ing of value: Vladimir Putin acts as if there are no reper­cus­sions for his ag­gres­sive and desta­bi­liz­ing ac­tions, first in Crimea, then in Syria, and likely next in the NATO’s Baltic states. North Korea has a larger nu­clear arse­nal to­day than ever be­fore. The Iran deal has been a laugh­able fail­ure, as the regime has openly vi­o­lated the agree­ment. And fi­nally, Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s govern­ment con­sid­ers the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion as the most an­tiIs­rael ad­min­is­tra­tion in U.S. his­tory — and for good rea­son.

● Mr. Obama’s anti-ter­ror poli­cies have also failed, fo­cused heav­ily on drones in­stead of in­tel­li­gence col­lect­ing. For ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons, he has con­sis­tently failed to rec­og­nize the threat of rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ism for what it plainly is. In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials reg­u­larly state the U.S. faces a greater threat from ter­ror­ism to­day than in the days be­fore 9/11.

And this is a par­tial list. De­spite win­ning a sec­ond term, his po­lit­i­cal legacy must be viewed harshly.

His left-wing poli­cies and to­tal fail­ure to achieve bi­par­ti­san leg­isla­tive out­comes forced down-bal­lot Democrats to bear all of the po­lit­i­cal risk. A 60-seat Demo­cratic Se­nate ma­jor­ity in Fe­bru­ary 2009 is now down to a mi­nor­ity of 48 seats. Nancy Pelosi will never hold the speaker’s gavel again, while fully 32 of the na­tion’s gover­nors are Re­pub­li­can.

And what would the ex­it­ing pres­i­dent say is his great­est re­gret?

He won’t ad­mit his com­plete fail­ure to act to end Syria’s bloody civil war. He won’t ad­mit he moved the coun­try to the far left over two terms, well out­side the main­stream of the coun­try. He won’t ad­mit that his “pen and a phone” threat to over­step his ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers was short-term smart and long-term stupid, while also be­ing con­sis­tently ruled as un­con­sti­tu­tional. Per­haps he wishes the Oba­macare web­site worked bet­ter.

I have an­other sug­ges­tion.

Mr. Obama’s great­est re­gret should be squan­der­ing the prom­ise of his pres­i­dency, fail­ing to move to the mid­dle af­ter the 2010 midterm losses, putting his own re-elec­tion ahead of the good of the coun­try, and be­ing left with no last­ing bi­par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal achievements to cel­e­brate. He now has the time to write, to think and to play bas­ket­ball and golf, bask­ing in the glow of his celebrity friends. But, in qui­eter mo­ments, Mr. Obama will be forced to won­der whether it was all worth it.

In­deed, it was not.

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