Lots of talk about Obama and his place in history. We recently passed the day marking less than 18 months to go before he moves back to Chicago. So it’s natural to look back and try to identify where he is going to rate.
Not surprisingly, such placements are pretty heavy on the ‘partisan’ influence – for example, Democrats are gonna remember Carter more fondly. And the same holds for Republicans and Bush the Elder.
Given this, I was very surprised to see the liberal leaning news channel CNN report on the legacy of President Reagan and the as of yet incomplete legacy of President Obama:
Obama has helped negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, normalized relations with Cuba, and watched his approval ratings recently hit a two-year high after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. But has he become a “transformational” president like Ronald Reagan?
“He’s simply plowing the ground Reagan cleared 30 years ago,” says Tom Nichols, a political blogger and author of a column “Fantasyland: Obama Is No Ronald Reagan,” referring to Obama’s policies on nuclear weapons and his agreement with Iran.
Shocking. But there’s more:
But we took the comparison a step further. We asked a group of historians and political scientists from the left and right to describe the qualities that make a president transformational. We also asked whether Obama lines up more favorably against Reagan now that he’s reached a deal with Iran.
The consensus was quick. Even those historians who personally disliked Reagan say Obama still hasn’t matched the Gipper — at least not yet.
Here are four reasons why:
Transformational Presidents change the conversation
Transformational Presidents deliver great lines
Transformational Presidents poach followers from the enemy’s camp
Transformational Presidents become beloved figures
President Obama will be remembered as historic; he will be the first black man elected President. But he won’t be remembered for his accomplishments.
Further, Obama’s accomplishments aren’t that heady.
Obamacare remains a massively controversial program passed in the dead of the night with a congress consisting of 60 democrats. To date, not one single republican has voted for the program. Further, it was only finally passed through budget reconciliation.
And we don’t know if the program will do what it says it will. But we DO know that government is incapable of managing large projects.
Cuba, while great policy, is largely insignificant.
And Iran will be remembered not so much a victory of negotiation and statesmanship as a situation in which we were led to water. The coalition behind the sanctions was crumbling and nothing we had control of would or will prevent Iran from obtaining a bomb.
America is more divided now than before Obama and the ‘gaps’ the left hates have grown, not shrunk.
We don’t know that Obama is better than Jimmy much less ranking as one of the greatest.