Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Obama's Legacy

Upon the occasion of his second term inauguration, there has been much talk of Obama's likely legacy, the theory being that he is now better able to decide what it will be than he was in his first term. It leads to the question of what his legacy is shaping up to be so far.

One item frequently mentioned is not really of Obama's own doing. Being elected while black is not to Obama's credit but that of the electorate. Moreover, this particular racial barrier fell for the Whitehouse much later than it was broken in Congress or the Supreme Court. As an "Obama legacy" I expect it to amount to no more than a footnote in the end.

Obamacare? Setting aside that its actual content is much more a product of Congress than of Obama's authorship it comes after Medicare, Medicaid and the Bush Administration's drug benefit. Much will undoubtedly also follow if only in correction of Obamacare's flaws and deficiencies. In context it will not seem that big a step -- not necessarily even a step forward.

No, as of this moment the central feature of Obama's legacy as it will be seen in the long view taken by history is, in my opinion, his "look forward, not back" policy regarding torture and other likely war crimes. By this will he join the Bush Administration in the annals of infamy.

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