Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 1/13/17
Barack Obama leaves office next week but we now know that he won’t be leaving Washington. The ostensible reason is so that 15-year old Sasha can finish high school.
The cynic in me says there is more to it than that.
The first clue comes from Obama’s farewell speech Tuesday night. Rather than an Oval Office speech lasting 15 or 20 minutes – as has been the custom – Obama said “farewell” to a packed-house 18,000 seat arena in Chicago in front of a video wall showing a giant presidential seal.
That spectacle suggests that it is rather unlikely that Obama will follow the lead of his predecessor and slip quietly back into relative obscurity. He says that he intends to lay back. But he qualifies that by saying that on “foundational issues” he might “weigh in.”
I therefore expect that “foundational issues” will come up pretty quickly. And from his perch at a walking-distance remove from the White House, I expect Obama to “weigh in” on them soon and often.
How else to burnish a legacy lacking in lasting beneficial impact on the American people?
Obama’s sole legislative accomplishment is the now collapsing Affordable Care Act. It having passed totally on party lines, it is open to almost certain repeal on party lines.
Having lost a Democratic majority in Congress on his first mid-term election, Obama was forced to use executive orders to “accomplish” anything. For those “accomplishments” to last, he was counting on a Hillary Clinton victory. A Donald Trump victory makes the rescission of most of those executive orders a virtual certainty.
What we are then left with is what one can argue is the most disappointing presidency in modern history. Elected on “Hope & Change,” Obama’s presidency ends with two thirds of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track.
He leaves behind a health care industry of rapidly rising costs together with rapidly diminishing care.
He leaves a military so depleted as to be at risk of being incapable of even its most basic mission.
We have a massive expansion of the welfare state, an explosion of the national debt, the completely avoidable rise of ISIS as terror threat to the free world, increasing belligerence from China and Russia, a nuclear North Korea and a nuclearizing Iran; all topped by an economy that has seen median family incomes decline, the middle class shrink and the rate of business deaths exceed the rate of business births.
At the end of another disappointing administration, Jimmy Carter had the good sense to leave town and (initially, at least) lay low. Barack Obama should follow that example but likely won’t.
It recalls 1940 and Leo Amery, quoting Oliver Cromwell, and speaking in Parliament to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain during which Amery said,
You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”
Indeed, Mr. President. Please. In the name of God, go.