Steve's Blog

We Just Graded Trump – So How About Obama?

President Trump reached 100 days in office over the weekend. The mainstream media obsessed over it for the last several weeks. Some were reasonably fair; others, not so much. And of course I covered Trump’s first 100 days in my blog last week. I tried to be reasonably unbiased, but as a fellow Republican officeholder at the federal level, I’m sure I have some built-in biases. But I tried.

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What I thought I’d do this week, is give the same treatment to President Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. But whereas President Trump has had only 100 DAYS in office, Barack Obama held the presidency for nearly 100 MONTHS (96 to be exact – or 2,922 days.) Here goes.

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On the domestic front, President Obama had inherited a very tough economy, and unemployment exceeded 9% when he took office. To his credit, the economy was much better by the time he left office, and unemployment had been reduced by about half. However, many of those jobs were part-time, or people were under-employed, meaning they had held much better, higher paying, jobs than they were now forced to take. And many people had given up looking for work, and therefore were no longer even counted in the unemployment numbers. As a result, the percentage of Americans in the workforce under Obama, was at historic lows. That’s not good.

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Also on the domestic front, is the issue of healthcare. President Obama was able to get the so-called Affordable Care Act (I prefer to call it the Un-Affordable Care Act) through Congress, with exclusively Democrat votes. So he got something done that previous Democratic presidents had dreamed of, but Obamacare is in the process of imploding. I’ll let another Democratic president, Bill Clinton, sum up my thoughts on Obamacare: “It’s the craziest thing in the world… premiums are doubled and coverage is cut in half.”

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And finally on the domestic front, President Obama had famously declared that there were no red states or blue states, only the United States. In other words, he was going to bring Americans together. Well did he? I don’t think anyone in his right mind would claim that Barack Obama succeeded in doing this. We are more divided than ever. Arguably President Obama was uniquely suited to improve race relations in America. But many would argue he did just the opposite. What a missed opportunity.

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Now to foreign affairs. If President Obama was found wanting on domestic matters, I would argue that he failed even more resoundingly on the international scene. “Leading from behind” just didn’t work. Under President Obama’s weak leadership, our allies no longer trusted us, and our enemies no longer feared us.

Hillary Clinton is putting some distance between herself from President Obama's foreign policy. However, her own comments may come back to haunt her.

America’s traditional leadership role around the world was absent (or at least greatly reduced) and bad actors across the globe filled that power vacuum.

The Middle East became even more of a mess. Gains won at such a high cost in Iraq were discarded by a premature pullout of all American troops there. The rise of ISIS was a direct result. Embarrassing red lines were drawn in Syria, and the chaos there has spread throughout Europe, and now directly threatens to come here. And a terrible deal with Iran has given billions of dollars to the world’s greatest supporter of terrorism, generating more terror and instability in the region, and around the globe.

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Southeast Asia was allowed to become a greater problem for the United States under the Obama Administration. The North Koreans became even more of a menace to the United States. It was bad enough that the madman Kim Jong-Un had nuclear weapons, but now he’s close to having the means of delivering them to American soil – intercontinental ballistic missiles. And no real pressure was put on China to reign in North Korea under the Obama Administration. Instead China was allowed to build islands in international waters – and militarize them, thus threatening U.S. allies in the region, and U.S. shipping there. Obama’s inaction left this dangerous situation to President Trump to have to deal with.

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And finally, Russia. President Obama and his first Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, badly botched the U.S./Russia relationship from the start. They began by canceling our missile defense commitments with U.S. allies Poland and the Czech Republic, in order to kowtow to Putin. Then they participated in an embarrassing “reset” charade with the Russian Foreign Minister, acting like everything with Russia was fine. Putin became convinced that he could act with impunity, and Obama’s response would be – nothing – and he was right. The invasion of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, interference in the Middle East (specifically in Syria in bolstering the murderous, chemical-weapons-using Assad regime) came as a result. Yes, the Russians probably interfered in our election, but the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to stand up to them had far more dire consequences.

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So how did the United States fare under the 100 months (96 to be exact) of the Obama Presidency? Not very well, I have to say.

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