How big a failure is Obama’s presidency?

Associated Press
Now that the election is over, it’s on to the lame-duck and legacy stage of the presidency of President Obama.

Whatever he’s likely to accomplish he’s probabably already accomplished, so the CBC’s Neil Macdonald, the network’s Washington correspondent, isn’t waiting, penning a blistering commentary today.

The original Obama movement was so rapturous that stating the obvious — you can’t eat hope and the rhetoric was mostly empty — seemed small-minded and a cynical snub to those people who clearly felt they were about to see real change, especially black voters who were feeling the kind of fierce emotions that most of us could never understand.

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” he’d tell the crowds. Whatever that meant, it sounded good.

More than 100 of Obama’s original promises were not realized and while blame must go to the Republican House for many of them, not all of them.

For example, he promised to “hold accountable” the financial firms whose criminal negligence — let’s dispense with euphemisms — nearly destroyed the economy in 2008.

Obama’s attorney-general eventually decided not to charge a single Wall Street executive, fearing the “collateral consequences” might be too hard on shareholders and office workers who might lose their jobs if a corporate collapse resulted.

Macdonald doesn’t stop there, writing “like a jilted lover”:

He has not, as promised, allowed Americans to import cheaper prescription drugs from other developed countries, notably Canada.

He has not enacted a hard cap on carbon emissions (merely stated another promise to take effect, maybe, years after he is gone). He has not met targets he set himself for renewable energy.

He has not limited the ridiculous subsidies enjoyed by big agribusiness at the expense of taxpayers and to the misery of farmers in smaller countries.

He didn’t change, as promised, the military commissions used by the Bush administration to judge so-called enemy combatants, commissions that circumvented the Geneva Convention and, in some cases, the due process guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

He has neither closed the Guantanamo Bay prison camp nor extended habeas corpus rights to enemy fighters, as promised.

His promise to oblige American companies to publicly divulge breaches of their customers’ personal data became utterly risible when a former CIA contractor, Edward Snowden, exposed the fact that his administration not only scoops up personal data on an industrial scale, but legally gags the country’s biggest technology companies from discussing it.

He’s unleashed government prosecutors on news organizations that dare to report secrets.

He tried to extricate America from Bush’s disastrous war in Iraq, only to plunge back in when it became evident Iraq’s American-trained and equipped army is almost useless.

He is now wading into the Syrian conflict, fighting the extremists of ISIS by aligning America with some groups that are barely more palatable.

Related: The best conservative argument for another government shutdown (Vox).