An overview of President Barack Obama’s two-term presidency: his successes, failures, and incompletions.
Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist D’Antonio (Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success, 2015 etc.) takes a broad, generous look at the entire Obama administration and finds many solid arguments that he indeed delivered the “change” that he promised in 2008. Amazingly, Obama did not allow the GOP obstructionism to wreck his presidency, as planned by Mitch McConnell, who vowed that Obama’s presidency would be “divisive and controversial.” For example, the new president was able to pass the much-needed economic Recovery Act as one of his first acts, thanks to the still-Democratic majority in Congress. His bailout of the auto industry was much criticized at the time, and its startling success prompted the Economist, which argued that “GM deserved extinction,” to apologize in its pages one year later. While many had voted Obama in to wage a “revolution” and then were disappointed at the slow pace, D’Antonio shows how, over the course of the eight years of Obama’s presidency, the accumulation of accomplishments proved to be revolutionary—e.g., his ability to pass health care reform when previous leaders could not manage it, galvanize the alternative-energy fields of wind and solar power “after decades of promise” by previous presidents to wean the country off oil, and draw back the troops in the Middle East. The recognition of the causes of global warming and the science behind it proved liberating for the environmental movement (e.g., at the climate conference in Paris in 2015), while the execution of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden galled the Republicans to no end. The author also looks at Obama’s mixed results in education and financial reform, gun control, and the long-promised closure of Guantánamo Bay prison. On the other hand, the president evolved courageously in human rights such as LGBT equality and equal pay for women.
Sometimes overly gushing and perhaps premature but bolstered with enough evidence.