While I’m critical of the overall design and impact of President Obama’s economic policy, I don’t have a partisan agenda and I’m willing to give the White House credit when it’s warranted.
I’ve pointed out, for instance, that Obama has increased spending at a slower rate than his GOP predecessor. That may be damning with faint praise since Bush was a big spender, but at least Obama didn’t open the money spigot in Washington even wider.
I also gave Obama some grudging praise for opposing a French tax harmonization scheme.
Heck, I even went out of my way to find something vaguely positive to say about Obamacare.
So I think I have at least some ability to dispassionately judge (from a libertarian perspective) how President Obama ranks in comparison to others who have held the office.
I’m motivated to address this issue because several readers sent me an article in the Huffington Post that makes a rather remarkable claim.
Barack Obama is one of the greatest presidents America has ever seen. I believe history will prove this, and with time, he will be remembered in the annals of history as a revered revolutionary.
Even more amazing, the author wasn’t being satirical. He lists 12 specific reasons why he thinks Obama deserves high praise.
1. He is for The People. …2. He is for civil rights. …3. He is for one race – the human race. …4. He is for a healthcare system that brings hope and healing to the hurting. …5. He is for the middle class. …6. He is for women’s rights. …7. He is for doing away with pomp and circumstance. …8. He is for the environment. …9. He is for veterans. …10. He is for peace. …11. He is for education. …12. He is for entertaining the masses.
If you click through and read the details, you’ll notice that the author almost never provides any details to back up his 12 reasons. He simply asserts that the President has good intentions.
Well, that probably true. But so what? I’m sure Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon also had good intentions.
And when the author does provide details, they are very weak. Let’s look at a few specific claims.
His actual record, for what it’s worth, has been to continue many of Bush’s policies and to pursue military intervention in Libya and Syria.
The author says Obama is “for the middle class,” yet that passage of the article doesn’t list a single policy, much less a specific accomplishment.
And there certainly wasn’t any effort to explain how an $8 trillion output gap and a seemingly permanent reduction in the employment-population ratio are good for ordinary people.
Moreover, if Obama “is for a healthcare system that brings hope and healing to the hurting,” then one might expect the author to reconcile that assertion with the fact that Obamacare is causing millions of people to lose their health insurance.
I’m also puzzled by the claim that the President “is for education.” This is the White House, after all, that was so intent on undermining opportunity for disadvantaged kids in Louisiana that even the Washington Post felt compelled to slam the Administration.
There’s no need to go through all 12 “reasons” before reaching the conclusion that there’s no way Obama deserves to be ranked anywhere near the top of the list for best Presidents.
And I’m not basing that on my own ideological preferences. If you want my opinion, Reagan and Coolidge are among the best (with an honorable mention for Bill Clinton) and FDR, Nixon, Wilson, and Hoover are near the bottom.
But even by non-ideological standards, it’s simply not credible to give Obama high marks.
P.S. If I had to guess, I suspect Obama would like to be another FDR. Fortunately, he won’t achieve that goal.
P.P.S. The assertion that Obama is “one of the best Presidents ever” is almost as silly as the claim that he is a conservative.
P.P.P.S. Since we’re comparing Presidents, I can’t resist sharing that the polling data showing that people would overwhelmingly vote for Reagan over Obama.