Barack Obama’s decision to re-enter the political fray on the eve of midterm elections has sparked lively discussions across the political field on whether his attempts to help Democrats regain power and influence will be effective.
From his endorsement of 81 Democrats, to his hawkish speech at the University of Illinois, to the recent rallies in California and Ohio and an upcoming rally in Philadelphia, Obama’s campaigning activity has inevitably drawn attention to his own presidency. While the mainstream media is spreading enthusiastic optimism and praises Obama’s genius, many pundits and analysts are rightfully pointing out Obama’s failures, hypocrisy and unfulfilled promises that could be more of a hindrance than a help for Democrats on Nov. 6.
Most Americans remember how Obama’s foreign policy undermined America’s international image. President Obama started his presidency with his infamous “apology tour” across the Middle East. It set a foundation for the indecisive and weak foreign policy that allowed both allies and enemies to take advantage of the United States.
In 2009, Obama got a Noble Peace Prize “in advance,” but ended up making the world less safe. A premature withdraw of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan was one of the factors that caused the Arab Spring with its wave of the bloody large-scale religious conflicts, insurgencies and civil wars. This, in turn, created a fertile ground for the widespread rise of the Islamic extremist and terrorist groups, including ISIS.
Then, it was Russia annexing Crimea and waging a proxy war in the Eastern Ukraine, a geographical hub of Europe.
Then, it was a reckless “nuclear deal” with Iran that cheated on its obligations. Obama even managed to spoil relations with the EU which suffered from the migration crisis created by his short-sighted Middle-Eastern policy.
Most tragically, Middle-Eastern mistakes cost the lives of the U.S. embassy officials, including Ambassador Chris Steven’s.
Obama’s domestic policy was just as controversial. It is true that Obama was able to deal with the 2008 recession via his stimulus plan. On a positive note, the stimulus combined with the 2010 tax cuts resulted in the creation of the new jobs, and the unemployment rate was consistently lowering. Obama maintained an expansionary monetary policy that created the low-interest rates that allowed the early stages of the housing recovery and slow but steady business expansion.
But the price to pay for that was high. During his presidency, the national debt was doubled, with a 105 percent GDP, which is an absolute anti-record.
One of the much-taunted Obama’s “achievements” was Obamacare that aimed to create a universal health care system, but instead resulted, among other things, in worsening the quality of medical services, and lead to the higher insurance rates.
Obama’s presidency was also the most racially divided times in our nation’s history. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in July of Obama’s final year in office, 69 percent of Americans said that race relations were bad and that “six in 10 Americans say that race relations were growing worse, up from 38 percent a year ago.” Everyone remembers burning Ferguson and Baltimore.
Then it was a thoughtless “Fast and furious” operation that funneled 2,000 firearms directly into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels.
The list of Obama’s “legacy” is long and deserves a separate study. But overall, it is difficult to call Obama an outstanding president.
Most of all, even a brief comparison of Trump’s achievements to those of Obama put the latter to shame.
Many conservative observers believe that Obama will harm Democrats’ chances to win the election: “Now the ex-president is back an encore, reminding Americans not only why Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton sit in the Oval Office today, but also why Democrats’ hopes for a ‘blue wave’ in November might be overblown,” wrote Ben Boychuk.
“Rather than maintaining even some semblance of presidential dignity — rallying Democrats around a set of principles without attacking a sitting president — Obama launched an unrestraint, full-frontal assault on his successor,” noted Marc A. Thiessen.
Indeed, so much for the “class” that the Democrats attribute to Obama — implying Republicans around the country to be the “Nazi sympathizers,” and taking credit for the booming economy even while warning that the nation is at a dangerous crossroads and going through the “dark times.”
As for Obama’s endorsements, it may be a disadvantage for a candidate who gets it, as the record shows. Thus, in 2010, Republicans gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Many of Obama’s candidates for Congress and for governorship fell short in that election, leading some to question Obama’s influence. His most infamous failed endorsement was for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Ironically, Obama was one of those whom Clinton later blamed for her defeat.
Despite the adoration of the mainstream media and the fact that the former president still enjoys a popularity among the Democrats nationwide, many are raising concern that his re-entrance in the political arena might inadvertently distract Democrats from their strategy and even activate conservatives and Trump supporters.
As The Hill reported, one of these is Sen. Jon Tester, along with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. As Sen. Tester said of Obama, “We’re not going to use any surrogates. Surrogates are fine, but we don’t need them. The race is myself and Matt Rosendale and that’s the way we want to keep it.”
So maybe Obama is helping, but not those whom he rallies for.
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