Opinion

Obama’s legacy-chasing as a sign of presidential failure

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It seems there are many (fortunately in my opinion) unfinished plans for soon to be former President Barack Obama.  The “hope and change” he had promised so many has in reality been the makings of a stagnant working class and a failed presidency.  Yet in his final weeks Obama is doing his best to frame what little legacy his presidency has held.  Here are some big mess ups that come to my mind:

1. Obama’s ruling all of the USA’s Arctic offshore areas off-limits for future oil and gas developments.

2. His seemingly personal decision to break with decades of US policy and abstain from the UN vote on Israeli settlements.

3. His decision to expel Russian diplomats from the US, supposedly in retaliation for their “hacking” the election, evidence for which is laughably weak.

I have been saying for some time that history will judge Barack Obama very harshly indeed (by contrast, I think George W. Bush will be treated surprisingly kindly).  The truth behind somebody’s Presidency usually emerges when the key players retire and start writing their memoirs, and the personalities and the processes behind each major decision are revealed.  Judging by his behavior in recent weeks, Obama seems keen that we not wait that long to find out who he really is.

There is a key word in all of this, mentioned in this report from the less biased United Kingdom:

President Barack Obama has unilaterally designated two new “national monument” nature preserves in the western US states of Nevada and Utah.

The Bears Ears National Monument and the Gold Butte National Monument will protect areas rich in Native American artifacts from energy drilling.

Some Republicans in those states are opposed to the move and say it amounts to a federal land-grab.

It comes as Mr Obama attempts to secure his environmental legacy.

Legacy?  Right from the beginning, all Obama has been interested in is “securing his legacy”, regardless of what catastrophe was brought about in the meantime.  I’ve contemplated leaders chasing legacies before, and it is as bad a sign as any.  Like a person’s character, somebody’s legacy is best described by other people, not the individual concerned.

Obama, realizing time is very short, is desperately trying to comprehend the disparity between what he thinks of himself and the verdict that the electorate just delivered on his eight years in office with President Elect Donald Trump.  In trying to shore up his legacy he is cutting an increasingly childish and pathetic figure, one who is in serious danger of becoming a laughing stock.

If he breaks with precedent and does what he has threatened by continuing to sound off once he leaves office, then he will at least have the comfort of knowing his legacy will be assured.  It just won’t be the one he wanted.

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