By Kyle Smith
Originally published by NYPost
The closing arguments for the Obama years are arriving, and they aren’t helping the outgoing president. A case in point is a new book published this week, one that acknowledges “Obama’s supporters have experienced [his presidency] as a continuous disappointment.”
Those supporters, and others, must have noticed that “for most of Obama’s term, wage gains were largely confined to the rich.” Or that “The administration’s planning in Libya clearly failed” or “It is certain that the actual outcome [of Obama’s Syria policy] was disastrous.”
Even many of President Obama’s proudest achievements look about as enduring as April snow: “If there was a single aspect of Obama’s legacy most vulnerable to reversal, it was his achievements on climate change,” the book says, and “Obama’s regulatory offensive is, of course, vulnerable to reversal by Donald Trump or the Supreme Court, since it rested upon executive action.” The longest chapter is titled “The Inevitability of Disappointment.”
Yet the title of the book containing these quotations is “Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail,” by the New York magazine columnist and lefty firebrand Jonathan Chait.
Sustained coherence seems to elude the author. On Page 99 we hear about those “overblown or even false claims that the new law [ObamaCare] was raising premiums,” but three pages later we learn, “Big insurers like Aetna pulled out of the exchanges, reducing options, and insurers in most markets raised their premiums.” Oh. Republican opposition, which boils down to wariness of new spending while Obama is racking up more debt than the previous 43 presidents combined, doesn’t earn a rational counter-argument.
No, the GOP simply means “rage.” “Republican terror,” Chait writes, is “berserk” with a “fierce and even crazed tone” (this last describes Paul Ryan).
On Page 31, Chait declares “the simplistic initial hope of Obama’s giddy supporters that the symbolism of a black president could help heal, if not eliminate, racial prejudice turned out to have a real basis in fact.” But 20 pages back, he comes to the opposite conclusion: “racism continues to lurk deep in the American psyche,” “Americans had split once again into mutually uncomprehending racial camps,” “the continued existence of racism in American life has been confirmed by a library of social-science research.”
Meanwhile, current polling on the matter is clear. American worries about race relations, which had been stable for nearly 20 years, increased markedly in Obama’s second term, reaching a new high last spring, while the president’s approval rating on race issues, which was very high when his first term began, has ranged from 48 percent to a low of 26 percent for the last seven years or so, according to Gallup.
Chait grouses that the 2009 stimulus was dismally small and admits that the Republican critique of it as funding “a wish list of long-standing Democratic policies” had “an element of truth.”
Yet he also celebrates it as saving us from depression. Really? The downturn actually ended in June 2009 as the first stimulus checks were being signed. Only an Obama fanboy would argue, just as a fire is going out, that the whole forest is about to burn down.
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