10 Surprising Things We Definitely Do Not Miss About President Obama
Now solidly into the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency, we can look back at Barack Obama’s legacy with some context. Many aspects of Obama’s eight years in office will go down in history as a success, but not all of them. Like any president, he had his failures, too. Both Democrats and Republicans alike can acknowledge we will not miss certain things about the 44th president. Let’s take a look at the worst mistakes he made and one force that may have rested even outside his control. (Page 10).
1. Confidence in the economy recovered post-Obama
Consumer confidence struggled in the Obama era. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
According to a survey conducted by the Conference Board, consumer confidence rose to 114.8 in February. That ranks as the highest it has reached since July 2001, according to an analysis by MarketWatch. The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research also reports the highest three-month average Consumer Sentiment Index score since 2004. In addition, it ranked its Current Conditions Index score for the same period as the highest average since 2001.
Next: Trump had a little something to do with that.
2. Obama oversaw a period of struggling labor
Finding a job was difficult. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
MarketWatch also reports, “A much healthier labor market has lifted the spirits of consumers. The share of those living in the U.S. who said jobs are ‘hard to get,’ for example, fell to an eight-year low of 20.3% in February.” The 2008 financial crisis took place on Obama’s watch. Post-recovery, confidence and job growth under Trump has already exceeded those levels.
Next: Investment growth has significantly outpaced the Obama era.
3. The stock market struggled during Obama’s tenure
The U.S. was battling the Great Recession. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
The mean Down Jones Industrial Average for October 2016 weighed in at 18,233. When the markets closed on March 1, 2017, the DJIA closed above 21,000. That ranks as a record all-time high and increase of 15.1%, compared to October. By comparison, from October 2014 to October 2016, the market only rose by 443 points. That’s an increase of about 2.5%. In other words, Trump already improved consumer confidence significantly more than his predecessor ever did.
Next: He also had this effect on the war in the Middle East.
4. The 44th president heightened tensions in the Middle East
The U.S. continued to be involved in the Middle East. | Pablo Gasparini/AFP/Getty Images
Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan in 2009, in a “surge” that we should have known would fail. While set up by George W. Bush, the president perpetuated U.S. involvement in an unwinnable conflict. Furthermore, he expanded many tenets of the Bush administration’s approach to the “war on terror.” That includes the use of drones and special forces to track down suspected terrorists.
Next: The president set the stage for this intelligence issue, as well.
5. Obama let the intelligence community run rampant
He was lax on the intelligence agencies. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
While the president did ban torture, he otherwise let U.S. intelligence agencies off the hook for their past abuses. He also did not rein them in when they overstepped their bounds. The CIA attempted to interfere with Senate investigations into torture, but Obama did little to stop it.
Meanwhile, his administration prosecuted whistleblowers and journalists more than any administration before. According to The New York Times, the Obama administration prosecuted nine cases involving whistleblowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It also used the Espionage Act to go after government officials who talked to journalists, setting the stage for Trump’s anti-media campaign.
Next: The former president also completely misread this historic event.
6. 44 bungled the Arab Spring uprising
He underestimated the extremists. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Obama and his administration viewed the Arab Spring as a large-scale, grassroots uprising toward liberal democracy. Under that assumption, he subsequently embraced it. Because the U.S. underestimated the rebel extremists and the authoritarian regimes, it completely mishandled the issue. That led to Obama’s intervention in Libya and may actually have prolonged and intensified the conflict in Syria.
Next: Obama’s diplomacy in this area also resulted in a misstep.
7. He also failed to establish Asian alliances
There was a lack of clear priorities. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
According to Foreign Policy, Obama did make some progress toward “rebalancing” Asia. However, a lack of clear priorities ultimately undermined the effort. When the president decided not to participate in China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, he miscalculated how our allies would respond. That set the U.S. back in the region, leaving Trump to pick up the pieces. While relations between China, North and South Korea, and the U.S. remain complicated, Obama’s inability to form alliances might rank as one of the biggest failures of his tenure.
Next: The president’s approach also hampered his success in this area.
8. Obama believed the world operated the way he does
He assumed his opponents would be as rational as he was. | Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
In both domestic and foreign policy, Obama worked under one major assumption that impeded his success. He believed his opponents would respond as rationally, reasonably, and unselfishly as he did.
As Foreign Policy put it, “If a central theme runs through Obama’s approach to politics, it is his conviction that people with differing views can come together, discuss, debate, share information, and gradually come to a mutual understanding that satisfies both sides and that will advance the public interest.” Since world leaders like Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Russia’s Vladimir Putin do not work that way, it made negotiating with them difficult.
Next: This unintended consequence of his presidency also casts a shadow after his departure.
9. America’s racist underbelly began to show under Obama
His presidency shed more light on racism. | Ron Sachs/Pool/Getty Images
More Americans feel comfortable publicly expressing racist viewpoints than they have in decades, according to some political scientists. Electing America’s first African-American president revealed those beliefs, some scientists found.
In 2008, before Obama got sworn in, 60% of blacks called race relations “generally bad.” That number fell by half soon after Obama took office. Seven years later, however, the number jumped to 68% — the highest recorded since the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. When asked whether Obama’s race affected his treatment, 80% of blacks said yes, while only 37% of whites agreed.
Next: Some black Americans said they heard things about Obama that really affected them.
10. Disrespect for Obama’s presidency may have led to Trump
Many who disliked Obama felt Trump was the answer. | Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images
Lorraine Whittlesey, an artist and composer, told CNN she felt surprised when a close relative racially insulted Obama and declared support for Trump. She said she also saw social media posts where whites called Michelle Obama a man and said Muslims would take over unless Trump got elected.
“I was astounded by the kind of things that were being said about the president and his family,” said Whittlesey. “People are entitled to their opinion, but they were saying that Michelle Obama was a man and their daughters’ dresses were too short. I still can’t believe it’s happening. It’s an insult to the office of the presidency.”
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