So Long, President Obama


Roland Dodds

Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular inactive at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Really enjoyed this piece Roland and this part in particularly was extremely honest and self-aware:

    “2008-2016 were some of the best years of my life; I traveled the world, completed my formal education, had children and settled into a career. If those milestones ran adjacent to a Trump presidency, I imagine it would be easy to see him in a more favorable light.”

    It takes a brave person to admit that our perceptions are colored by many factors. Kudos to you for admitting that and still being unbiased enough to offer an honest and fair critique. Obama’s foreign policy legacy may be the most debated part of his legacy for many years and you do a good job of summing up the discussion points. Well done.Report

  2. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Seconding the other MD: great piece.

    Also picking out the same point you make, “It is hard to decouple the personal from the political when it comes to assessing a president’s reign. When we look back at the great presidents of old, it’s clear the rosy assessment we have of an administration is influenced by the quality of our life during their tenure,” that tends to be my view, but in fact regarding the last sixteen years, 2000-2008 were some of my very best; 2008 to present, not so much. Quite obviously, this affects my views of the periods, but in terms of the presidents, I’m not sure. I think maybe how it fits is that opposing George W. Bush was an emotionally and intellectually energizing activity, while observing and supporting Barack Obama can be draining and thankless. (Luckily I was never fully invested in defending him at every turn, and lately have been more given to exploring criticism than engaging in defense, even as remain a big fan of his personal and intellectual approach to the presidency.)

    So in a sense that goes together, or perhaps there just hasn’t been as much connection between my personal life and my view of politics during this era as there often is for people.Report

  3. Avatar Michelle says:

    Not sure I totally agree with your premise that our view of presidential administrations is influenced by how we personally fared under them. I’ve had some pretty good years under presidents I still don’t view kindly, although Reagan is looking a lot better compared to the Republican presidents who’ve come after him.

    I’m more in agreement with your assessment of President Obama’s foreign policy. I wish he hadn’t stepped in to the conflict in Libya or initiated so many drone strikes. But overall, I think he struck a good balance and fear that some of his most important achievements, such as the Iran treaty, will be undone by his successor. Obama had a nuanced view of policy issues which Trump lacks because he has neither the intelligence nor temperament to study them. Heaven help us.Report

  4. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    Very well written and insightful…

    With the Rwandan Genocide more than 10 years in the past, it seemed odd and off-putting for Obama to say we “would have to strongly consider and act”

    Translated into English, what he meant was “Under my command, there’s no way we would have stepped in, especially right after Black Hawk Down, but I can’t say that because of how callose it’d sound”.

    I’m not saying that’s the right move or wrong, but that’s what he meant.

    RE: Transformational President
    He was given the chance, but if you want to drag the rest of the country along, your policies have to produce growth.Report

  5. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    Nice piece, Mr. Dobbs.

    I’m not sure that 8 years of any president is a good thing. It seems to me that the American electorate has gotten lazy of late. 4 of our last 5 officeholders have been 2 termers, and I’m not sure any of them was worthy of being re-elected. I think we ought to save that honor for people who are truly outstanding, or leading the country through a prolonged crisis. In other circumstances the job is simply to not fish things up.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    I’m going to disagree with the whole coming of age during a pres era thing. I had some good times during Reagan’s years, and some really good ones during Clinton’s, and I disliked Clinton immensely.

    I’m much more of an isolationist. I’m content to let other counties kill each other as long as it doesn’t effect ours. And I see no need intervening in genocide if it doesn’t suit our interests. Of course, I also have issues with our “destabilization” programs in Ukraine, Libya, etc. and that’s all on Obama. He also owns that pisspoor job of trying to buy back weapons from the Islamiscts that got our ambassador killed. He made a fool of himself on the whole chemical weapons thing in Syria. The Ukraine thing bit him in the ass, drawing out Russia, and he apparently lied or didn’t know that “you can keep your plan/doctor if you want” was bullshit.

    He failed to investigate and prosecute the Bush folks who took us over the edge into full blown torture, and I don’t like the idea of one dude having the “legal authority” to have a drone drop a bomb on a us citizen, regardless of where he is in the world.Report

  7. Avatar Will H. says:

    I mean this in the most literal sense possible: It is incomprehensible to me that persons would find that foreign relations are a primary concern in the election of a president.

    Other than that, I would say that my first love and my first car came along in the Reagan years, a man who, in my view, fought hard to model the United States after the most repressive aspects of the USSR, all the while misguided into believing that he was something distinctly different from them.
    We would have been better off were his horse elected president.Report

  8. Avatar Pinky says:

    It’s time to make fun of two types of people – actually the same kind of person, just on opposite sides of the spectrum. To every left-wing nutjob who said that the right would never allow a black man to serve out his presidency, you’ve been proven wrong. To every right-wing nutjob who said that the left would never willingly give up power, you’ve been proven wrong. It’d be great if you’d both acknowledge it. With that acknowledgement, you could begin to consider that your theories really don’t correspond to reality. Instead I suspect you’ll just jump to the next sure-thing claim.Report