Obama's Legacy, esp if a SCOTUS Justice is appointed

So - stepping back and looking historically vs. politically, won’t Obama have nailed many/most of his policy objectives, while at the same time be in a moment in history when many major events took place?


  • Healthcare Reform
  • Trans Pacific Partnership
  • The bailout bill
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Immigration - not cleanly and not yet.
  • Guantanamo - a glaring failure


  • Economic recovery
  • Iran deal
  • Getting out of Afghanistan; building a Libya coalition (of course Libya is a mess right now)
  • 3 SCOTUS nominees
    You get the idea; sorry for everything I have no doubt missed. There will be much discussed about his use of drones and other privacy issues. But, jeez, by most measures, wouldn’t his administration be characterized as a success by his terms?

Fascinating to consider how this will look in a few decades. It has felt so anxiously messy, but in a macro way appears different.

I certainly think so. I expect that in a decade he’ll occupy that same place in the Democratic pantheon as Reagan does in the Republican one. Though some of that depends on whether the Dems win another 4 years.

As you note, I think his most lasting negative legacy will be the expansion of the drone war (and to a lesser extent Gitmo). It will be to Obama was deficits were to Reagan–potentially quite important and quite awkward for his enshriners, but largely ignored by partisans of both stripes because it doesn’t fit either’s narrative.

One thing missing from your list is his work on criminal justice reform. This has been late-coming, but some of it is pretty significant. I expect that it will mark the beginning of the end for mass incarceration, and the historical periods of African-American liberation will become become freedom from slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration. Obama’s late moves will be akin to Eisenhower’s on civil rights.

Don’t forget about the War on Terror. He killed bin Laden, he got us out of Iraq, and he got us most of the way out of Afghanistan.

If a new Supreme Court Justice is appointed after Obama, depending on who gets to appoint…

This most certainly, I think.

I don’t think his negative legacy will be the expansion of the drone war however. I think his negative legacy will start with the ACA since it isn’t a true single payer universal healthcare system that I think will fail and I am of the opinion that in later years there is a very strong possibility that more evidence of some sort indicating severe corruption within his administration. Overall he will end up having a generally neutral legacy since it seems he is either well liked or reviled with only a few in between.

Will his legacy be to be seen as an effective President? Yes I think so, within the confines of the terms of his policy objectives. I don’t have any confidence that he will be seen as a good president.

FDR was reviled by many during his terms. He was busted for trying to stack the Supreme Court, for some of his recovery programs which weren’t structured correctly, etc. After a few decades, those were diminished and his successes focused on. The messiness of his time in office has become less apparent. And we don’t see how Social Security was tossed about like the ACA - we experience it as a settled thing.

As for the ACA/Healthcare Reform: it could easily end up being a step towards single-payer over a few decades, if it isn’t derailed. That’s the argument between Hillary and Bernie right now. In this case, I agree with Hillary: it took 80 years to get through; don’t uproot it, build on it.

As for corruption in his administration discovered sometime after the fact - who knows?

I forgot to add the “who knows” clause in my post:o