Obama the Man is a figure of historic significance. From his intriguing ancestry to his equally intriguing rise through education, law and politics, he is an impressive person. His calm demeanor, bordering on open-eyed slumber at times, is a powerful tool which he may well have learned as a student in Asia. It has been less effective for the achievement of progress during his presidency. Obama has done a tremendous job of maintaining the Obama brand within his own fan base, despite the mediocrity of his presidential accomplishments.
In 2009, Obama was hailed throughout the Muslim world after his inauguration. He made a victory tour of the region early in office. Now the crowds who hailed his coming are perhaps enthusiastic at his going, since the region has fallen into more murderous chaos during Obama's presidency. American foreign policy, largely under the control of the U.S. Executive, has remained based in selling armaments to the highest bidders or those with the best goods to barter. Obama did not change the currency of American foreign policy from war to philanthropy by any means. Islamic extremism, while growing from seeds planted by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, has flourished during the Obama presidency.
The U.S. has major domestic problems, financial and social. Global corporate capitalism is foundering on reefs of its own construction. The huge disparity between rich and non-rich is beginning to corrode capitalism from within. The 90% will soon be unable to fuel the greed of the top 10%, since the 10% already own almost everything. There will be less and less capital to be spent by the non-rich to maintain "growth", the poisonous life-blood of capitalism. Another global economic crisis, akin to 2008's, is being predicted.
Obama has done little to deal with the environment. He has sided with the religious against dealing with overpopulation. He has coddled African governments as they pursue corruption and bigotry over raising the education levels of their populations and liberating their women from misogynist oppression. The effects of climate change on the U.S. coastal areas has gone unaddressed in any practical sense. The Obama administration has continued the government's outmoded crisis-melioration model. The Keystone Pipeline, while vetoed by Obama, was defeated by low oil prices and wide opposition in The Heartland, represented widely by Republicans in Congress. In other words, its failure was not actually environmentally based. As for fracking and Obama, read this.
America's tsunami of elderly will not be adequately addressed by Obamacare. Obama squandered the first year of his presidency taking victory laps. Had he pushed a one-payer healthcare system through the Democrat-controlled Congress of 2009, the economic and social future of the U.S. would have been greatly bolstered. With an improved one-payer healthcare system, the embedded problems of healthcare costs and fairness of distribution of resources could have been addressed. Now the insurance companies and greedy medical providers will simply run the system, and perhaps the country, into the ground.
Great advances in LGBT rights have occurred since 2009. Little credit for this can be given to President Obama, who had to be embarrassed into support of LGBT rights by popular polls and state-based initiatives, supported by his political allies. The polls reflected the relentless hard work of LGBT activists, supported by the pro-LGBT citizens financially and in social media. Obama was generally behind the curve of that social movement and the changes that came about. Ironically, the relatively conservative Supreme Court in its decision on marriage rights did more for LGBT legal rights than Obama's administration.
As for urban crime and the state of urban minorities, the Black Lives Matter movement stands as an indictment of Obama's domestic policy failures. From not dealing with the corruption in Homeland Security to failure to significantly change the drug-gun culture in the U.S., Obama's administration cannot be given high grades from my perspective as a city-dweller in a diverse middle income community.
The chief lesson of the Obama administration is this: The American Presidency is one position on an international board of proxy directors. Politics have become global and financially controlled. Global control by increasingly repressive and propagandist regimes is apparently inevitable as long as militaristic capitalists own 90% of the world's assets. Orwell's 1984 is being actualized. The next big face on your HD screen will look different from Obama but will represent the same dark forces, seated in corporate boardrooms and private jets.