A few days ago was Obama’s 57th birthday. In addition to it being his birthday, it was the first official Obama Day in the state of Illinois. You may have noticed #ObamaDay trending on Twitter. Many people, including trusted celebrities, took to tweeting about just how much they missed the 44th president. Some of my favorite tweets are the following:
Happy birthday @BarackObama, I miss your grace, dignity, wisdom and heart.
— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) August 5, 2018
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) August 4, 2018
I miss having a real president. #ObamaDay
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) August 4, 2018
I truly miss this remarkable kind man who embodied compassion, justice, understanding, equanimity, tolerance & empathy. We was an inclusive President who shared a glorious vision of an America that stood for EVERYONE! He showed us his heart. He showed us his soul. #ObamaDay https://t.co/vO8FtZq3Ml
— Morgan J. Freeman (@mjfree) August 4, 2018
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) August 4, 2018
And who can blame them for missing Obama? I can’t. In fact, in honor of Obama’s birthday, I’ve listed some of the most significant things that Americans (regular people and celebrities alike) can mutually look back on with nostalgia. The good old days may be gone, but at least we can remember them, and our selfless former leader, Barack Obama, with sincere sentimentality.
Ahh, remember when massive, unsustainable debt was cool because Obama did it? When he took office in 2009 his answer to the recession was to spend, spend, spend… and spend he did. For the next three years America had deficits over $1 trillion with very little to show for it. The recession officially ended in June 2009, but the actual recovery was the slowest since the Great Depression. Wages remained low and flat. Who wouldn’t miss that?
Obviously the Obama years broke quite a few records. The next record Obama achieved was breaking a 50-year record on poverty. During the Obama years, we had three consecutive years of the poverty level standing at 15 percent, and Obama left office with more people on food stamps than there were when he took office. Food stamp usage reached a record 47 million people while Obama was in office.
8. Gross Domestic Product
It really does take incredible leadership to achieve so many records during your time in office, and Obama has another one that he must be very proud of. Obama is the only president in U.S. history to have never had a single year of 3.0 percent or greater annual GDP growth. I’m sure he never expected to achieve this accolade, but achieve it he did. Also, the only presidents to have have lower average growth rates during their presidencies were Herbert Hoover, Andrew Johnson, and Teddy Roosevelt.
7. Student Loan Debt
Obama was elected twice with the help of young people, and he rewarded them for their support with massive student loan debt. Five years into his presidency student loan debt skyrocketed 463 percent. Much, much faster than it had under Bush–about 500 percent faster. Obama ingeniously had the federal government take over student loans and the results were simply astounding. Under Obama, college students found themselves graduating with more debt in a job market that lacked jobs.
6. Health Care
Okay, even if you liked your health plan or your doctor you couldn’t keep them, but at least health care got more expensive. Thanks to Obamacare we saw insurance premiums skyrocket and deductibles go through the roof, as coverage got worse. If you didn’t want to pay for insurance, no problem! You just had to pay a fine for not wanting this amazing new health insurance!
5. Gas Prices
Donald Trump just can’t match Obama’s record on gas price. The national average gas price has yet to reach $3/gallon under Trump, but under Obama, we had gas prices between $3.50 and $4 per gallon for three years straight! Seriously, who doesn’t miss those times where it cost an arm and a leg to fill up your gas tank?
Diplomacy under Obama was in a league of its own. Determined to improve relations with Russia, the Obama administration approved the sale of 20 percent of America’s uranium to Russia. What could possibly go wrong there, right? Obama was determined to give Russia more of what it wanted regarding many other controversial issues like missile defense, but, as Obama told Dmitry Medvedev in 2012, he needed to wait until after he was reelected to have more flexibility to do so. So, we’ll give him a pass on that. However, when Russia was attempting cyber attacks on America’s elections in 2016, rather than do what they could to stop it, America’s cybersecurity teams were told to stand down.
Let’s also give Obama snaps for his failure to achieve a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq. The vacuum created by not having enough troops on the ground resulted in the creation of ISIS. How many presidents can claim they created an international terrorism network?
3. Free Press
We’re all aware of Trump’s antipathy for fake news, but Barack Obama’s treatment of the media is something we can truly be proud of. When the Obama administration didn’t like the media covering a story they did their best to keep the media silent. For example, after Benghazi, they literally threated Fox News in the hopes of bullying them into not covering it. It didn’t work, so they actually proposed having FCC agents placed in newsrooms to monitor whether news being reported was biased. When Obama wasn’t trying to control the media, he was trying to keep secrets from them. Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, once spoke of “unprecedented secrecy and unprecedented attacks on a free press” by the Obama administration. Remember when the Obama administration spied on the Associated Press by secretly obtaining phone records? Or when they spied on Fox News reporter James Rosen, even tracked his movements and read his emails, and labeled him a “co-conspirator” in violation of the Espionage Act? Who doesn’t miss the days when we had a president who cared about the free press?
By my count, there were at least 30 significant Obama administration scandals. That has to be a record, doesn’t it? I mean, Nixon had Watergate, Clinton had Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky, and a slew of other alleged affairs… but thirty scandals under Obama eclipses those. From trying to sell his Senate seat to using government agencies to target his political enemies, to even spying on the opponent of his heir apparent to the White House, Obama turned corruption into an art form. Perhaps this should have been expected, given his Chicago roots, but really, the magnitude of his corruption was certainly underestimated by most of us.
1. Mass Surveillance
Fans of the book 1984 got a real treat during the Obama years. Potential terror suspects may not have been under the eye of the federal government, but everyday citizens were. The NSA surveillance program experienced exponential growth on Obama’s watch, altering surveillance methods away from terror suspects and toward mass surveillance. The Obama administration argued that “without any individual suspicion of wrongdoing, the government is allowed to know whom Americans are calling every time they make a phone call, for how long they talk and from where.” Even that wasn’t enough. After Obama left office we found out his NSA was conducting illegal searches on Americans for years in defiance of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The ACLU called these searches some of the most serious Fourth Amendment abuses ever documented. The most serious ever! Congratulations, Obama!
Matt Margolis is the author of the book, The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obamaand the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis