President Barack Obama is probably the best president America has ever had

Published: February 19, 2016
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Although Obama’s foreign policy failures far outweigh his successes, one must keep in mind that it’s unfair to ask a leader to solve all global issues and then hold him accountable for not having done it all. PHOTO: REUTERS

After listening to the debate of prospective presidential candidates, from the Democratic and Republican parties, one can’t fail to notice the stark difference in their leadership styles with the present incumbent. President Obama presents a dignified image, a vision backed with impeccable integrity coupled with great communication skills. Perhaps, these qualities are enough to set him apart from the aspiring candidates.

Although, it would be too early to assess his performance as the president, since he will be demitting from his position in January 2017. Regardless, one can’t resist the temptation of revealing a scorecard of his achievements and failures during his two terms tenure.

Obama’s inclusive approach

One of the significant contributions of Obama has been his inclusive policy. He always stood for the rights of blacks, Muslims and other minorities. Obama’s visit to a mosque in Baltimore can be considered a bold move; keeping in mind the recent vitriol against the Muslim community. In spite of being called a Muslim on repeated occasions – due to his middle name being Hussein – Obama has managed to assuage the feelings of Muslims in an increasingly anti-Muslim environment. Earlier, he had also defended the Sikhs when they were subjected to hate crimes.

Obama’s ‘mixed’ foreign policy

Obama can be considered to be a votary of peace. It is known that he wanted to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, a move welcomed by many. Though the troops continue to remain in the region, Obama claims that it’s merely to train and advise the Afghan forces, and also ensure that any remnants of al Qaeda are prevented from posing a threat to US security.

The president knows that the battles against terrorist forces can’t be won on the ground; rather it goes beyond that, an example being his decision to withdraw the US troops from Iraq. Obama had quickly learnt from the earlier mistakes made by George Bush, who had invaded Iraq on the ground that Iraq had possessed weapons of mass destruction, which later proved to be an incorrect assessment. The invasion not only proved counterproductive, but severely dented the US image.

In the case of Iran, the nation was treading on a dangerous course of becoming a nuclear power, Obama used a strategy of engaging with them rather than isolating them. His efforts paid off with Iran agreeing to defer its nuclear programme for another 15 to 20 years. It was a win-win situation for both the countries and a sound demonstration of Obama’s successful leadership.

Many of the European countries have already shown their willingness to do business with Iran. India and Pakistan have also followed suit, as they stand to benefit by fostering economic relations with Iran for fulfilling their energy requirements.

Obama also ended American alienation of Cuba by restoring diplomatic ties. This will set Cuba on the path of growth and consequently benefit the US with less Cuban immigrants and possible future economic affiliation with Cuba.

Obama has however, not been able to conceptualise an effective strategy in dealing with Kim Jong-un. He could have persuaded China to prevent North Korea from going nuclear, but in hindsight we feel that China would have failed in its efforts to influence Kim Jong Un, thus, it was wise to not make a move. Obama further kept his involvement at the minimum in the case of annexation of Crimea by Russia, adding to his paraphernalia of being in the non-aligned mode.

Although Obama’s foreign policy failures far outweigh his successes, one must keep in mind that it’s unfair to ask a leader to solve all global issues and then hold him accountable for not having done it all. As Ross Douthat, in an article published in the New York Times, succinctly put it:

“In a world that’s necessarily beyond an American president’s control, even the wisest choices can lead to disappointing results.”

The US economy

The economic downturn Obama inherited from President Bush was formidable with the US facing one of the worst financial crises: high debt, growing deficit, huge unemployment, financial institutions on the brink of collapse, collapse of housing market, etc. His economic policies gave a strong impetus with bailout packages for banks, tax increases on the wealthiest Americans and investment in several public services projects like infrastructure, health care reform, education, that has lifted the economy from the quagmire it found itself in before his presidency. Today, the US economy has recovered with the national unemployment figures showing a downward trend. Also, Obama’s contribution to healthcare, by enacting the Affordable Care Act, has been praiseworthy. He has worked tirelessly in bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and making hospital care more affordable to the lower middle class.

As Obama’s tenure comes to a close, history will perceive him as one of the most balanced and inclusive presidents the US has ever had. He is leaving behind a legacy that will be difficult for his successors to emulate, let alone surpass.

K S Venkatachalam

K S Venkatachalam

The author is an independent journalist and political commentator. He tweets as @Venkat48 (twitter.com/venkat48)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • rationalising argument.

    hahahah not many in US think like that.Recommend

  • marinemec

    Ask yourself why the VA cannot fire anyone responsible for veterans who died while waiting for treatment for up to two years? Why do we currently have the largest National Debt in American History? Ask yourself why are 100 million people in the United States are no longer in the work force? Ask yourself why are racial divisions are at the highest levels since the 1960’s? Ask yourself why we have the slowest economic recovery in history? Why has NO Democrat gone to jail since Obama? NO ONE is held responsible for their actions in the Obama Administration as those that should be fired, are actually promoted? Why is this happening with the State Department, Veterans Administration, and the IRS just to name a few? Both sides of our current government are dysfunctional but again, we CANNOT endure more Unconstitutional Lawlessness happening within our current Administration which is why Obama cannot be allowed to appoint another justice with less than a year left of his administration! Terrorism is happening on American Soil and seen almost every day in the Obama created sanctuary cities, but mainstream media is choosing to not covering this? Why? Whoever wrote this should smoke another one, so you still can’t see where our country is really going and why Obama cannot be trusted !Recommend

  • curious2

    It’s understandable that an Indian would view Obama in a positive roll — USA/India relations have had a substantial improvement during his administration. That doesn’t make him a great President let alone the Best President Ever. American’s rank him below George W Bush who’s ranking when he left office some somewhere below whale excrement. From my perspective Obama is a bit like IK – people who were looking for real change are disappointed.Recommend

  • LS

    – You assume that the problems associated with VA are new.
    – The National Debt was Zero when Democrat Bill Clinton left, then came all the wars and still continuing… You think A president who inherited them is responsible for them but not the one who started all the wars?
    – Racial divisions are at the highest level across the world. Never before so many wars took place displacing people, if it was not for police killing Dark skinned Americans wantonly do you think this problem would have come? This problem was always there, but now that camera’s are now in everyone’s pocket this is coming to the fore, but instead of tackling the issue of brutality by Police you want to blame it on the President.
    – There are plenty of democrats who went to Jail, one in Massachusetts, one in Virginia and one in Rhode Island… So just a usual rant from a Republican?
    – Remind me who was clamoring to remove the funding for IRS? It was republicans. In fact they brought down the government because funding government was not a nice idea but they all love the services the government provides, Lets see how far you last if no water, Garbage disposal, DMV, Government sponsored education and research programs, are closed?
    – Remind me who went finding WMD where none existed? Isn’t ISIS coming from the same place?
    – I think you need another dose of opioid that you are consuming for your depression. Make sure you have Narcan close to you.Recommend

  • siesmann

    White Americans still have a dislike for Blacks and could not tolerate a Black person as President.Obama was criticized from day one by these elements by labeling him a Muslim.Bush left USA in the worst economic crises ,but Obama helped stem that by bipartisan co-operation.Many presidents before had tried to pass Universal Health Coverage but failed.He was the only President able to pass that bill and make health benefits available to the poorer Americans.He had promised to bring troops back and help clean the mess that Bush left with his bravado and involvement in unnecessary war with Iraq.He kept his promise not to involve troops in Syria by consultation with the experts.Many Republican criticized initially for his partial involvement in Syria,but then changed their minds and started criticizing him for not sending troops to Syria.Republicans especially the White South Republicans,who still think that slavery was the best thing in USA tried to oppose him whatever he did,though he always involved Republicans in decision-making.It is too early as to how history judges him,but he tried his best to serve America despite uncalled for obstructions from RepublicansRecommend

  • siesmann

    He will do his duty in nominating the Justice according to his constitutional prerogative.Constitution can’t be changed to accommodate the Republican whim.Terrorism is the legacy of Bush that people like you trusted.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Yes,the rich ones.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Muslims hate him because he did not do things as they wished without realizing that he had Republican sharks around to bite him in his efforts to keep a balance with the Muslim World.They kept up the song “Obama is a Muslim” all through his tenure.Recommend

  • Stealthy

    If you compare Obama to Hillary or Trump, he definitely appears to be better.Recommend

  • marinemec

    But it was the Democrats during both Bush administrations who said it should not be done in an election year. Do Democrats like yourself take that back from what both Obama and Biden said in recent past because the shoe is on the other foot?Recommend

  • marinemec

    What can a person say about all these opinions against Raw facts I wrote to begin with? Three democrats went to jail since Obama out of 330 million people, wow, what a high number! I can pick your diatribe apart piece by piece with facts you can verify what I said. Try it on someone from your own party as they will just believe whatever you write, oh I forgot, you did that already.Recommend

  • LS

    What raw facts? Diatribe came from you.. How many republican Morons went to jail? Why even going to jail is a parameter in your mind? You have no facts.. Stating the obvious isn’t a sign of intelligence.. We have already seen what a republican race of Bazillion candidates looks like. With No substance and the biggest moron is winning!!! God speed to you and your tribe.Recommend

  • LS

    So what if Biden said that? What he says is a gospel or does it trump the constitution? Was he talking about when a Justice appointment was imminent?Recommend

  • marinemec

    There you go again with insults and no backing, Typical empty Liberal response. Nothing new.Recommend

  • LS

    So your diatribe qualifies as facts and the list of pure facts in bullets in my first response to you is Opinion? When asked for REAL facts Republicans hide behind FOXY News. Which has been caught lying time and time again. Even your statements (…because the shoe is on the other foot?) are picked up from FOX. Please do something original.Recommend

  • Tommy Gunn

    Sorry Mr. Venkatachalam but you need to read some American history & about the trials & tribulations & achievements by Presidents like Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Jefferson, Polk, Truman, Eisenhower, Jackson, JFK & many others before you anoint Obama as the best US President of all time. Obama is a good President but not among the greatest. He would probably rank somewhere between 15 & 20 on all time best President lists of most historians.Recommend

  • marinemec

    You just described what you wrote! Pathetic.Recommend

  • Tommy Gunn

    Have Hillary or Trump been US Presidents? BTW, Hillary’s record as Secretary of State as well as a US senator was stellar. There’s no reason why she won’t be a very good President. Trump is a con artist. He will not be elected President.Recommend

  • LS

    Well it needs some grey matter to get it? Recommend