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A Tribute to Outgoing President Barack Obama - Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Updated on January 20, 2017
RJ Schwartz profile image

I'm on the right side of politics and enjoy a good debate on government, the economy, common sense, and the rights of the people.

Official Portrait of Barack Obama
Official Portrait of Barack Obama | Source

President Barack Hussein Obama II took his final walk around the White House this morning as the President of the United States. He and his wife Michelle and their children will leave the mansion after eight years of serving in the nation’s highest capacity. He will certainly be remembered in American history for many reasons. He was the first black man to be elected President and the first President born outside of the contiguous United States. He will be remembered as a man who came to Washington with little political experience, but a strong desire to fundamentally change our nation. His campaign slogan, Hope and Change,” will be remembered as pivotal in our nation’s history. Some of his main platform topics back in his campaigning days were, ending the foreign wars America was involved in, increasing our energy independence, and reforming the health care system. With Delaware Senator Joseph Biden by his side as Vice President, Obama brilliantly spoke about a better America, an America where detention centers such as Guantanamo Bay would be shuttered, and an America where those who felt persecuted would have a voice. A gifted orator, Obama was able to speak eloquently about his vision of the future and how he planned on moving the nation forward.

Eight Years Later...

Now, eight years later, President Obama is leaving public office to resume his life as a regular citizen. His policies will certainly be reviewed and debated for decades after his service ends, as those of every other President has been. Also like other Presidents, a library will be constructed in his honor to maintain documentation of his term in office. His supporters will do everything in their power to ensure his legacy is written to showcase his successes and possible offer an after-the-fact analysis of why his failures were someone else’s fault. The Republican Congress will certainly be named in the latter portion, most-likely being called obstructionists or worse. He will be remembered as the fourth President who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama’s was for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Many look at this award in hindsight with a high degree of skepticism, especially when looking at the state of race-relations and other divisions in America today.

Official Portrait of Eric Holder, former US Attorney General
Official Portrait of Eric Holder, former US Attorney General | Source

Controversies and Complications

Many opponents of President Obama still hold onto the belief that the President was born in Kenya and has a forged birth certificate and a fictitious social security number. There were claims about his sexuality, his marital status, and there was even a period where he was considered the devil incarnate. Many controversial events took place during his tenure, yet he somehow remained unscathed and will leave office with a decent approval rating. The IRS Scandal and the targeting of conservative groups by then director Lois Lerner, was improper but no one was able to make an actual connection to the White House and the President. Operation Fast and Furious, an ATF sting operation gone horrendously wrong, allowed over 2,000 guns to flow into the hands of Mexican Cartels. Several of those guns, which the ATF lost, tracking of, were found at the scene of United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder in Arizona in 2010. This case led to the Justice Department refusing to provide Congress with the documentation of the operation, which further and directly resulted in then Attorney General Eric Holder being found in Contempt of Congress. Subsequent follow-up linked 69 murders to guns lost by the ATF.

An even higher-profile murder scene happened in Libya under Obama’s watch. On September 11th, 2012, the United States Consulate was attacked by armed terrorists who succeeded in overwhelming the minimal security forces on site. United States Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were murdered while defending the complex by members of the militant group Ansar al-Sharia. The Obama Administration and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, initially attempted to blame the incident on a dated YouTube video; something which most Americans quickly dismissed. The entire incident remained a black-eye on America and the Obama Administration, especially since numerous requests for details through the Freedom of Information Act, were dismissed or delayed. Many analysts feel strongly that this event was one of the key reasons why Hillary Clinton was unable to defeat Donald Trump in the most recent election. Her e-mail scandal played a larger part in that defeat. Ironically, the two are intertwined since it was during the investigation into Benghazi that her private home-based e-mail server was discovered. A lengthy investigation took place in which the FBI was deeply involved, but in the end, just like the IRS scandal and Fast and Furious, no one was able to produce evidence which connected her system with the White House. President Obama was insulated from the entire narrative, despite the fact that most Americans assume he was aware of it, since she was his Secretary of State. Unlike Benghazi, no one has been able to tie any American casualties with her e-mail scandal.

Obamacare Logo (unofficial)
Obamacare Logo (unofficial) | Source

Veterans, Healthcare Reform, and Obamacare

Both CIA contractors murdered in Benghazi were former Navy SEALS, elite fighting men of the United States Military. Many other former servicemen and women died during Obama’s tenure, but not from enemy fire. The Department of Veterans Affairs came under intense fire during the Obama Administration when an Inspector General discovered falsified paperwork to cover up for extremely lengthy waiting times for our veterans to received medical care. Many died while waiting for care and a subsequent report from the Inspector General revealed that over 800,000 records were delayed in the system and up to 300,000 may have died as a result of the waits. The outrage over this scandal was bipartisan and rightly so; neither political party is without many men and women who served the nation.

President Obama was again insulated from the fallout over the VA, and it’s once again a major platform issue, but this time the Republicans are taking up the challenge to reform the VA once and for all. On the topic of health care is where Obama will most likely be remembered best. President Obama followed up on his campaign promise of health care reform, of in this case, health care takeover by the Federal Government. The Affordable Care Act, a 1,107 page bill that we “had to pass to read,” was approved on strict party lines both in the Senate and in Congress. To this day, President Obama has been criticized for making statements that are simply not true, namely, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” The implementation of Obamacare was a disaster, with multiple website failures, severe cost overruns, and skyrocketing out of pocket costs for Americans. The law was supposed to overhaul the medical industry in America for the better, when in fact it did just the opposite and will likely be repealed within the first year of Donald Trump’s Presidency and replaced with something that is lower costing and better for the American family.

Obsolete Style of Food Coupon
Obsolete Style of Food Coupon

Spending, the National Debt, and Unemployment

Spending in Washington has always been a front-and-center topic. President Obama leaves office with a bloated Federal Debt level just shy of $20 Trillion dollars. President Obama is responsible for $9.335 Trillion of that debt; nearly half the total number. He has accumulated more debt than any President in history. Other economic metrics under Obama are telling of his Presidency. Food Stamp recipients are up 42%, consumer prices are up 12.4%, and home ownership is down 3.8%, while corporate profits are up a staggering 166%. The Work Force Participation level is at its lowest level in decades and many people have given up on every finding work. Under President Obama, big business owners reaped in huge profits but did reinvest or add jobs due to the uncertainty of taxation and regulation policies.

The Obama Administration spent a lot of money and with unemployment levels very high, had smaller tax revenues. The 2009 Stimulus Program, Obamacare, and massive increases in spending attached to social programs drove the debt up quickly. His first budget alone added $1.587 Trillion to the debt. Overseas conflicts continued to be funded in the early part of his administration and even after the elimination of Osama bin-Laden by US Special Forces, the war on terror continued to be expensive. Increased spending on climate change programs, common core implementation, and other partisan activities added to the discretionary spending managed by the Oval Office. Arguments will likely continue for years about the state of the nation when former President Bush left office, which is often cited as a big reason why Obama had so much debt early in his Presidency. Yes, Mr. Bush did leave Obama with a mess, which he promptly made worse. Unemployment was very high during the end of Bush’s tenue, yet instead of focusing on jobs early on, Obama went straight for health care reform; a move which is still a sore spot among many people on both sides of the aisle. If President Obama had got America working again and then made an attempt to pass a bi-partisan health care law, things could be very different and we’d most certainly have seen Hillary Clinton win the Presidency, despite her many shortcomings and shady arrangements with foreign supporters.

Wins Some, Lose More

Despite them not being 100% his fault, many will spend much of their time hammering Obama for the dismal unemployment numbers America experienced the entire time he held office, or the excessive regulations generated by the White House, but not everything he did was bad. Homicides nationally were down 13%, yet in very Liberal cities such as Chicago, they were national news almost daily. Violent crime was also down 16%. The Stock Market was healthy with the S&P up 139% over his terms. The huge jumps in corporate profits and an elevated stock market are areas which Republicans are linked with, and it’s usually negative. The number of Americans uninsured dropped with the heavily subsidized programs available through Obamacare. During President Obama’s two terms, America’s import of petroleum dropped by 62% while domestic production of oil rose 87%. The price of a gallon of gas at the pump has been relatively stable for the last year. Energy was one of his campaign focuses, especially green energy.

President Obama examines a solar panel at the California Solyndra plant - now closed
President Obama examines a solar panel at the California Solyndra plant - now closed | Source

Green Energy

America remembers the period when President Obama pushed his green-energy platform, often ignoring actual facts and costs connected to getting it off the ground. Government funding was made available to multiple green energy companies, most of which failed, leaving the taxpayers to pick up the bill. None were as visible as Solyndra, a California solar panel company which received over $500 million in funding from the Obama White House before shutting down and was later to be embroiled in a scandal when independent government watchdogs identified that the Obama Administration bypassed key taxpayer protection protocols in a rush to approve funds. Key players at Solyndra were linked to key Obama fundraisers and many accused the Oval Office of picking favorites. Green energy production is up and we’re seeing more focus on hybrid and electric cars, energy efficient construction of new buildings, and other futuristic approaches to managing energy use all were born from the original notion of Obama. Even though we lost money on the front-end, President Obama should be credited with starting something that, with the right care and investment, could turn thing positive in the next few decades.

Article II of the United States Constitution

Evaluating a President can come in many forms, but one thing that should be elevated over everything else is how they lived up to their Presidential duties, outlined in Article II of the United States Constitution. This section of our most sacred document lays out specific duties the President is responsible for. The President shall serve the nation as Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces, shall make treaties with the support and approval of the Senate, shall fill vacancies in the Federal Courts as they become open, and shall enforce the Laws of the United States. President Obama did not fulfill his Constitutional obligations, especially when it came to enforcing the law. Instead, the former President selectively enforced certain laws, tried through Executive Order to change others, and by his actions led to many cities across the nation establishing themselves as “sanctuary cities.” Obama has been accused of overreach on a level no other President has ever attempted or had success with. He open spoke about his duties to enforce the law while simultaneously telling everyone he “couldn’t wait for Congress to act.”

The Executive branch under President Obama routinely ignored laws associated with immigration, both illegal and legal. The nation was flooded with illegal aliens crossing our southern border under Obama’s watch while the White House made claims that deportations were up. Immigration officials were given directives to ignore certain areas along the border and the former President pushed multiple programs through that provided benefits for immigrants and illegals, often benefits which citizens could not access. He added insult to injury by upping the number of refugees that could come to America and often tried to resettle them in areas that didn’t want them. He used an Executive Order to create the DREAM Act, trying to protect children of illegals from being deported. The court system typically gives the Executive Office a lot of leeway in immigration enforcement which allowed Obama to move in the way he did. Crimes committed by illegals were touted by the opposition as one of the many reasons why Obama should reverse his open border policies, but they fell on deaf ears. Hillary Clinton supporting open borders was viewed as a continuation of Obama’s policies and was another reason why she lost to Donald Trump, the current President who has pledged to build a border wall and deport anyone without citizenship or legal status under American law.


The President as a Social Justice Warrior

President Obama was a leader who focused on social issues much more than his predecessors, and he frequently became involved with delicate subjects. Unfortunately, his involvement made many tense situations worse and ultimately ended up making America even more divided than before his election. Race relations, which have always been a touchy subject in America, became much worse with his election. When America elected a black man to the highest office in the land, people of color everywhere were optimistic that he would be the person to fix decades of injustices. Obama’s pastor the infamous Reverend Jeremiah Wright, ministered to the President with sermons filled with racial rhetoric and bias. Obama brought that with him as baggage; baggage which would hinder him from even coming close to healing the racial divide in America. He chose to speak out before the facts were all known about key dividing incidents in Ferguson, Baltimore, and with the death of Trayvon Martin, Freddie Grey, and other black Americans. Some say it was his negativity which led to the formation of the domestic terrorist group Black Lives Matter. Others want to hang the deaths of many police officers on his head, since he did nothing to stop the racial turmoil he created. Instead of using fact-based analysis, Obama played the race card often and with zeal. Instead of support law enforcement, Obama supported the law breakers, simply because they were minorities.

Another area in which Mr. Obama got deeply involved with was the LGBT movement and same-sex marriage. He changed his position from being in favor of traditional marriage, which he used as a campaign point when debating Hillary Clinton many years ago, to one which put America on the path to same-sex marriage. Once started, the shift continued and our nation is currently seeing new things unfold daily. Transgenderism, still considered a mental disorder by the medical profession, became heralded by the White House and strangely encouraged by many Democrats. The Administration forced their position on the states and the school system, putting parents in the uncomfortable position of their children being forced to share restroom facilities with people who were of the opposite biological sex than they were. It’s just another example of the divisionary politics practiced by the Obama White House.

Democrats Losing Key Positions Under Obama's Leadership

Now that Mr. Obama is leaving office, America will change. Most of his Executive Orders will be rescinded by President Trump and his signature piece of legislation, Obamacare, will be dismantled. To this day, he still feels as if everything he did was right and the opposition was in the wrong. It’s nothing to fault the man for. He told America that he wanted to fundamentally change this country before he was elected, and that’s what happened. Unfortunately Mr. Obama was unable to get the support for many of his policies from Congress and the American people, and in many cases, even his own Party. The loss of Democratic Senate seats, House seats, and state governorships and legislators has been staggeringly large. His eight years of hope and change damaged the Democratic brand worse than anyone else has ever done, especially a two-term President. Under President Obama, Democrats have lost 900+ state legislature seats, 12 governors, 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats. His complex style of leadership, massive amount of regulation, and attempts to expand or change the role of many agencies in government have not been positive for the Democratic Party. Under Obama agencies like NASA were focusing on immigration and climate change.

Donald J. Trump - 45th President of the United States
Donald J. Trump - 45th President of the United States | Source

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due - Obama's Real Legacy

So, in summary, Obama can be credited with one thing above anything else; he is solely responsible for creating an environment in America which allowed Donald J. Trump to get elected as our next President. By ignoring the citizenry in favor of immigrants or non-citizens, Obama allowed populism to rise up and take over the nation. By using the mainstream media as his errand boys and girls, he set the stage for the emergence of stronger and bolder internet-based news sites to level the playing field. Massive regulation will usher in a new era where Washington is more hands-off and the states more hands-on in key areas such as education and other policy making. By allowing social activists to operate in areas that were outside the law, Obama will be cited as the reason why law enforcement spending will increase and the Border Patrol will have a much larger role. Businesses, landlords, and job sites will now scrutinize the immigration status of a person before moving ahead with anything, and those who fail to validate will be certainly arrested and deported. And American companies will once again invest in American workers, American made products will be valuable, and America will rise again to a level of greatness that the world hasn’t seen since the Reagan era.


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