Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness
By traditional metrics, Barack Obama’s presidency was mostly a failure. The economy, in a new first, never hit annualized growth of 3 percent. His signature domestic policy—Obamacare—caused chaos. Millions lost their coverage and doctors, and paid far more in deductibles and premiums. The stagnant recovery after the 2008 recession was the worst in 50 years.
Myriads of new regulations, higher taxes, and socialist jawboning vegetated the economy. Scandals at the IRS, Department of Veterans Affairs, FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Justice Department, General Services Administration, and National Security Council abounded. Obama weaponized the federal government by punishing opponents through the IRS, monitoring suspect reporters, scapegoating and jailing a video maker, and using the deep state to exonerate Hillary Clinton from serial wrongdoing and to sabotage the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.
Abroad, a diplomatic “reset” empowered Vladimir Putin’s Russia from the Crimea to the Middle East. The Iran deal legitimized Iran’s ascendant Middle East hegemony. Chinese trade cheating was of no concern. ISIS was but a “JV” terrorist clique. North Korea freely pointed nuclear missiles at the West Coast. Israel and the Gulf monarchies and Egypt were no longer close allies. Outreach and deference instead were shown to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. “Lead from behind” bombing of Libya led to a disaster. Nonexistent “red lines” in Syria, flexible nonproliferation “deadlines” issued to Iran, and rhetorical “step-over” lines given Vladimir Putin all eroded U.S. credibility. And on and on.
Yet in terms of culture, Obama clearly won.