President Obama’s legacy will be inextricably linked to the fact that he was the first African American to be elected president. A black man in the White House. The Founding Fathers, including those who wrote the words “All men are created equal” owned slaves.
So the election, in itself, will always be a great moment in our nation’s history and part of the Obama legacy. That’s why they gave him a Nobel Peace Prize before he had even done anything. His election alone was stunning.
How will he be immediately judged? If his current media treatment is any indication he will be immediately praised to the heavens by liberals and critiqued by conservatives. Liberal think tanks of historians will immediately say he is one of America’s greatest presidents.
I should point out, shortly after he was elected president the Sienna Institute named him as the 15th greatest president in history. So get ready for a healthy debate. What will he do?
I’ve always argued that his post presidency will be hugely eventful. In some respects his legacy will be in his hands. More than any other president in history his post White House years may define him. He could be a Jesse Jackson on steroids, with companies seeking to have his approval and putting him, or his surrogates, on their boards of directors. Expect his team to bully the television executives to give him good coverage.
His non-governmental organization (NGO) will rival Bill Clinton’s, raising billions of dollars. He will be an international sensation. What will it mean long term? Long term? The quick answer is — we don’t know.
A more prosaic answer is it depends on the kind of America we have in the future.
If American swings back to a more constitutional form of government and to a more free market economy, your grandchildren will hear history teachers say we almost lost it all under Barack Obama. That the whole American experiment was almost cashed in. But don't count on it.
It is much more likely that America continues to move toward a more government managed economy, education, and society. Then, our grandchildren will hear history teachers say that America is today what it is — because of Barack Obama. Not FDR, not Lincoln . . . but Barack Obama.
So the future legacy of Obama will depend on the future of America. Some would say that the combination of numbers, including those in the general public benefiting from a more socialist form of government, as well as those corporations who have their own government subsidies, special insider laws — or contracts — giving them an advantage; that those numbers mean that it is already too late. Meaning, the people who are now gaming the system outnumber and outvote the people who are living under its rules — trying to make a living without any special advantage.
What was his greatest moment? Getting Osama Bin Laden. He made a gutsy call and it worked.
What will be seen as his greatest failure? It has to be the plight of the poor. According to a groundbreaking study at the University of California at Berkley, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer on a massive scale under Barak Obama. That has to be a disappointment for him. It's a terrible legacy for a liberal president to carry, causing a lot of people to rethink.
Conclusions? Either way, this presidency of Barak Obama has been a linchpin and will be one of the most significant in all of American history. It was set up by 9-11 and by the failed economy of the Bush presidency, but the final responsibility for what happened in his two terms is his. Whether he is seen as a good or bad leader will be partly determined by how good and bad is defined in the future.
And in 100 years? My guess is that like Reagan, he will gain in respect. I have liberal friends who hated Reagan who now speak respectfully because he is gone and no longer a threat. I think that will happen with Obama for different reasons, partly because he is African American and because we are still living down a legacy of slavery in our history.
People will find other ways to argue policies and even conservatives will treat him nicely when he is gone and no longer a threat. That’s my suspicion.
Doug Wead is a presidential historian who served as a senior adviser to the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He is a New York Times best-selling author, philanthropist, and adviser to two presidents, including President George H.W. Bush, with whom he co-authored the book "Man of Integrity." Read more reports from Doug Wead — Click Here Now.
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