What will the White House screw up next? Democrats have watched as one calamity after another has befallen what was once the most promising Democratic administration since John F. Kennedy’s. Obamacare, the NSA, Syria, heck, even the administration’s campaign foibles are back in the news with the publication of the new tell-all book Double Down.
Yet all is not lost. The Obama administration has not exactly bungled its way through five years of power. Until this year, in fact, Republicans were complaining that the press had been too kind towards Obama. With all the dour news, it is worthwhile to take stock of all the good things for which Obama can take credit. Bear in mind, some of these successes may not have been Obama’s ideal objective — but the end results are victories regardless. These are the top eight achievements that not even Edward Snowden can take away, in descending order of importance.
1. An economy that still exists
When Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate was steadily rising — it would hit 10 percent in October of 2009 — and catastrophe beckoned. But by effectively wielding George W. Bush’s TARP program, passing a stimulus of his own, bailing out the automotive industry, and resisting the urge to nationalize the country’s banking sector, Obama was able to keep the crisis from swallowing a country and his presidency. Regardless of which particular policies may have been the secret sauce, surviving the worst financial crisis in decades happened on Obama’s watch.
2. A move beyond the 9/11 era
Obama has helped stitch up a chapter in American history, the 9/11 era, in which the responses to 9/11 — the war on terror and America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — drove foreign policy and security calculations exceedingly more than anything else. What’s been left in America’s wake hasn’t been pretty — mass bombings have returned to Iraq, and relations with Kabul have been icy — but Obama has wrapped up one war and the other is soon to follow. He was able to leverage the assassination of Osama bin Laden as a symbolic end of this 9/11 era, shifting the country’s operating framework from the global war on terror to a more cautious, global awareness of the terror that targets America, while pushing more resources into other looming threats like cybersecurity.
3. His loyalty to Ben Bernanke
It wasn’t the most popular decision at the time, but in 2009, Obama re-nominated Bernanke for a second term as the chairman of the Federal Reserve. That small decision had a big impact, ensuring we would see sustained quantitative easing from the Fed, and that the economic recovery would continue.