Peter Wehner certainly thinks so:

In the first year of his second term, the president has failed on virtually every front. He put his prestige on the line to pass federal gun-control legislation–and lost. He made climate change a central part of his inaugural address–and nothing has happened. The president went head-to-head with Republicans on sequestration–and he failed. He’s been forced to delay implementation of the employer mandate, a key feature of the Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare is more unpopular than ever, and it’s turning out to be a “train wreck” (to quote Democratic Senator Max Baucus) in practice. The most recent jobs report was the worst in a year, with the Obama recovery already qualifying as a historically weak one. Immigration reform is going nowhere. And then there’s Syria, which has turned out to be an epic disaster. (To be sure, Mr. Obama’s Middle East failures go well beyond Syria–but Syria is the most conspicuous failure right now).

In watching the Obama presidency dissolve before our eyes, there is a cautionary tale to be told.

I respect Peter Wehner greatly, but I disagree with him greatly here. Not on the facts, but on their meaning. Wehner is thinking conventionally about the meaning of success and of failure. If you look at each of these issues in a conventional way, he is correct that Obama has not been successful. But this is not a conventional situation.

I believe Obama has been very successful, although at the moment his formidable ego might be smarting a bit because he’d have preferred to have won the battles Wehner lists and be basking in the glow of his previous adulation squared. But his failures are relatively minor compared to the more major battles he’s already won, and each failure doesn’t seem to stay in the mind of the easily-distracted public very long. And don’t forget he still has three and a half years in which to revisit those fights and perhaps win them this time.

Here are Obama’s major successes:

(1) Weakening the US on the world stage

(2) Withdrawing from Iraq and substantially withdrawing from Afghanistan

(3) Passing Obamacare and fostering the general increase in government dependency, helping to create a docile public that is increasingly and reliably and perhaps permanently supportive of Democrats

(4) Discouraging efforts to set up checks on voting fraud, to the long-term benefit of Democrats

There are two major thrusts to Obama’s policy goals, the foreign and the domestic. In each case, they represent fundamental transformations of what has gone before. They can be summarized as (a) weakening America and (b) entrenching and norming the leftist influence on the voting public. Both missions have been substantially accomplished. It really doesn’t matter if Obama’s personal popularity and influence falls (although I don’t see his poll numbers sinking nearly as much as they should be), although of course he’d rather they didn’t. But he knows that he is set for life anyway: he never has to run for office again, a large segment of the American public (and the world) still reveres him, he will have enough money to do whatever he wants, and he will be free to go round the globe making interminable speeches—which is one of his favorite activities anyway.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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