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The inauguration means it’s time to consider the outgoing president’s legacy. Since he’s made it plain he intends to hang around and harry and harass his successor, we hope to see many Trump tweets the on the former’s lethal legacy.
“Lethal legacy” is a good kill shot like “Lying Ted,” “Little Marco,” or “Crooked Hillary” and it has an additional admirable alliterative advantage. How was it lethal? Let us count the ways.
Lethal to the 50% of young black Americans who don’t have work. And in a similar vein, lethal to the job prospects of 15 million Americans who have dropped out of the workforce. Lethal to the countless thousands of businesses that did not get started. Lethal to millions who liked their doctors. Lethal to efforts to control illegal immigration. Lethal to many school voucher programs. Lethal to the private enterprises of for-profit education. Lethal to the U. S. credit rating. Lethal to coal mining and fossil fuel industries. Lethal to our constitutional tradition of separation of powers. And most wonderfully, lethal to the electoral prospects of a thousand Dem candidates.
And in foreign affairs, lethal to hundreds of thousand Syrian citizens. Lethal to Israel, our strongest and most democratic ally in the Mid-East and thus lethal to the Mid-East peace process. Lethal to the aspirations of millions in the Iranian ”Green revolution.” Lethal to prospects for Libya becoming a peaceful country. Etc., etc., etc. . . . . .
We’ll let some of our best friends flesh out the details of the legacy of this disastrous Dem demagogue. First up is Streetwise Professor, Craig Pirrong. It was almost a century ago a Dem administration sponsored and passed the 20th amendment. Craig Pirrong celebrates.
The 20th Amendment to the US Constitution, adopted in 1933, moved inauguration day from March 4 to January 20. And thank God for that, for imagine what Obama could do in those extra six weeks.
He’s already done enough, believe me. The most egregious was the failure to veto a UN resolution targeting Israeli settlements. Indeed, it has been plausibly pled that the administration was instrumental in pushing forward the resolution, though it has implausibly denied this.
There is a colorable case against the settlements. Be that as it may, Obama’s actions were low and destructive, …
… Moreover, it is clear that Obama was driven more by personal peevishness and dislike for Netanyahu, rather than higher motives. …
… Apparently not realizing that the 2016 election (not just for president, but for the House, the Senate, and state offices) was largely a repudiation of him and his presidency, Obama stated presumptuously that he would have been able to defeat Trump and win a third term.
Obama says he will take some time to “be quiet for a while” to “still myself” and “find my center.” Take your time! As much time as you like!
Looking at the bright side, Obama says he is going to dedicate himself to rebuilding the Democratic Party. Given that he’s the one that singlehandedly led it to the brink of catastrophe, this is great news. Sort of like having someone you don’t really like hire the Three Stooges to fix his plumbing.
The 20th Amendment was adopted because a lame duck Hoover administration was unable to respond decisively to the economic crisis that gripped the country in early-1933. The amendment was intended to prevent the government being hamstrung for months in a future crisis occurring during a transition to a new administration. But in retrospect, the real virtue of the 20th is not that it accelerates the ability of an incoming president to deal with crisis: it is that it limits the time that a departing president has to wreak havoc. This is especially important when the departing president is preternaturally vain and narcissistic (even by comparison with other politicians, who are only naturally vain and narcissistic), when he is unconstrained by accepted norms and traditions, and when there is no political cost to be paid for indulging his peeves and pursuing his vendettas. One shudders to think what Obama would have done with an extra six weeks to act with no means of holding him to account.
Cromwell’s parting words to the Rump Parliament are apposite here: “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.” Fortunately, the 20th Amendment ensures that Obama will go sooner than he would have without it. And thank God for that.
Conrad Black with lots more.
Like most people, I had hoped for the customary settling down after the very tumultuous and nasty election. We have been denied that, not by the candidates, who have been dignified, but by the outgoing administration. I have written here and elsewhere before that this has been the most incompetent administration since James Buchanan brought on the Civil War, but I had not realized how the immunity to severe criticism afforded President Obama, because of his pigmentation, had been allowed to disguise how inept this administration has been, how authoritarian and sleazy, and how the president’s demiurgic (godlike) vanity has gone almost unnoticed as the toadies and bootlickers like Tom Friedman and David Remnick went into overdrive.
Only now, when, instead of simply expressing solidarity with his party’s narrowly or even questionably defeated nominee, as Dwight Eisenhower did with Richard Nixon in 1960 and Lyndon Johnson did with Hubert Humphrey in 1968 (and even Bill Clinton slightly managed with Al Gore in 2000), President Obama has disparaged Hillary Clinton. He said the election was “about my legacy,” and that he would have won had he been allowed constitutionally to seek a third term, and for good measure he has incited the inference that the election was determined by unspecified illegal computer-hacking by the Russian government.
The president is correct that the largest issue in the election was the Obama legacy: the 125 percent increase in federal debt while the national work force shrank by 10 percent, the shameful Iran nuclear and sanctions giveaway, the shambles of the “red line” and other flip-flops and miscues all over foreign policy, the haughty disparagement of large sections of the electorate (in which he was almost outdone by Mrs. Clinton), the immigration policy of proudly admitting to the U.S. whomever might be seized by the ambition to enter, and the slavish adherence to the most alarmist versions of the faddish climate apocalypse, whatever the cost in American jobs and the current-account deficit, and without waiting for evidence adequate to justify radical measures. The president has had a whim of iron, informed by bygone reflexively socialistic pieties, and while he has not been popular and the majority has thought throughout his administration that the fundamental direction of the country was mistaken, about half the people either like him as a public personality or are afraid, because he is not white, to admit that they don’t.
He may be, as he often seems, a charming man, but when he has gone and the issue of race is not much involved in assessing his performance, he will be seen to have failed as president,
And Andrew Malcolm, a voice from our past, stirred himself from his retirement.
“You better stop stealing money from your mother’s purse, young man, or I will punish you late this year or perhaps sometime in 2018,” said no parent who was serious about punishment.
Yet that’s pretty much what President Obama did with his old-fashioned expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over alleged political hacking by Moscow interests going back 18 months.
A very strange retro-response from a president who mocked Mitt Romney for suggesting in 2012 that Russia was America’s worst strategic threat. Obama said: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” …
… Since Obama vowed to run a smooth presidential transition, what’s the real point of picking a tardy diplomatic scuffle with Putin? What’s the real point of setting Israel (and the annoying Netanyahu) adrift at the United Nations now?
Why issue all these offshore drilling bans and new federal regulations? Why commute more federal prison sentences than a dozen past presidents combined? Why keep releasing Guantanamo terrorists when so many return to their homicidal careers?
Might it be to plant political IEDs for his annoying successor, …
Michael Barone writes on government by “faculty lounge.”
… In my view, Obama owed his election and reelection to the feeling — widely shared by Americans, including many who didn’t vote for him — that it would be a good thing for Americans to elect a black president.
What they didn’t expect, but got, was a president who governed according to the playbook of campus liberals, imposing — or attempting to impose — policies that he believed would be good for people, whether they knew it or not.
This was governance that was both inattentive to detail and law and out of touch with how policies affect people’s lives. That is why so many of these policies seem headed for the ash heap of history.
Victor Davis Hanson writes on the “legacy of deceit” and asks why it was necessary.
… Why does the Obama administration contort reality and mask the consequences of its initiatives?
Two reasons come to mind. One, Obama advanced an agenda to the left of that shared by most past presidents. Obamacare, the Benghazi catastrophe, the Iran deal, his strange stance toward radical Islam, and the Bergdahl swap were unpopular measures that required politically-driven recalibrations to escape American scrutiny.
Second, Obama’s team believes that the goals of fairness and egalitarianism more than justify the means of dissimulation by more sophisticated elites. Thus Gruber (“the stupidity of the American voter”) and Rhodes (“They literally know nothing”) employ deception on our behalf. Central to this worldview is that the American people are naive and easily manipulated, and thus need to be brought up to speed by a paternal administration that knows what is best for its vulnerable and clueless citizenry.
Such condescension is also why the administration never believes it has done anything wrong by hiding the facts of these controversies. Its players believe that because they did it all for us, the ensuing distasteful means will be forgotten once we finally progress enough to appreciate their enlightened ends.
The deceit Victor Hanson writes about above is the largest part of the scandals of this administration. So writes Kevin Williamson.
The lame-duck columns have been nearly unanimous on the point: Barack Obama is remarkable among recent presidents for having been utterly untouched by scandal, personal or political.
The personal can be conceded: There is no serious allegation that President Obama suffered from the liberated appetites of a Bill Clinton, and the White House interns have by all accounts gone unmolested. But this is hardly remarkable: There were no such allegations about George W. Bush, either, or about George H. W. Bush, or about Ronald Reagan, or Jimmy Carter. Richard Nixon’s name is a byword for scandal, but not scandal of that sort. Nixon’s shocking personal perversion was his taste for cottage cheese with ketchup.
So, three cheers for Barack Obama’s manful efforts to live up to the standard of Gerald Ford. Well done.
The political issue is a different question entirely.
Not only was the Obama administration marked by scandal of the most serious sort — perverting the machinery of the state for political ends — it was on that front, which is the most important one, the most scandal-scarred administration in modern presidential history.
For your consideration: …
And from John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist.
… If Obama’s domestic legacy is evanescent, his enduring legacy will be in foreign policy. In 2008, Obama promised to “restore our moral standing” in the world, by which he meant that America would retreat from the international stage to “focus on nation-building here at home.”
In practice, that meant abandoning the Middle East and allowing ISIS to rise from the ashes of Iraq. Obama was elected on nothing so much as a desire among Americans to be done with that part of the world, and Obama had an idea how to do it: elevate Iran as a regional hegemon to replace America.
That’s why he pursued the Iran nuclear deal. The price he was willing to pay is that the regime in Tehran could have nuclear weapons within the next decade, if not sooner. The mullahs know this, and it has emboldened them. (Just this week, Iranian naval vessels made a simulated attack run at a U.S. destroyer, which opened fire in response.)
The story is much the same all over the world: American retreat is emboldening our adversaries. Russian aggression has grown to the point that Moscow launched an “active measures” campaign to disrupt our presidential election, even as it pursues revanchist aims in Eastern Europe and an irregular military conflict in Ukraine that has left more than 10,000 dead. Nearly a half-million have perished in Syria’s civil war, thanks in large part to Obama’s refusal to intervene. Iraq, left to its own devices when Obama pulled out American troops in 2011, has proven unable to defeat ISIS. An irredentist China is installing military bases on man-made islands in the South China Sea, forcing a strategic realignment along the Asia Pacific.
All of which to say, on the eve of Obama’s departure from office the world is more unstable, and a major conflict more likely, than at any time since the Cold War. This was not inevitable; it was the result of conscious choices by Obama and his inner circle. In assessing his likely place in American history, it calls to mind James Buchanan, perhaps our worst president ever. …
YES! We have many great cartoons today.