Pearls are being clutched more tightly than ever on the Left, as passages from hard-Left “journalist” Bob Woodward, published in the Washington Post, show the loutish President Trump daring to utter a few critical words about his sainted, brilliant predecessor, Barack Obama. “I don’t think Obama’s smart,” Trump is quoted as saying. “I think he’s highly overrated. And I don’t think he’s a great speaker.” Why, how dare Trump tell the truth about the Left’s favorite naked emperor!
My new Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster features three presidents on the cover, next to each of the three segments of the subtitle. Next to “Who Is Overrated” is a photo of none other than Barack Hussein Obama, who did a great deal to earn the honor.
Start with the politicization of the government. The IRS targeting of conservative groups on Obama’s watch was a prelude to many more revelations about how the civil service had become a corrupt and compromised stronghold of the Left while he was president. Obamacare gave the federal government a huge role in health insurance and, not coincidentally, caused more trouble than it solved. Millions of people lost plans that were working and had to pay more for other plans, or in fines for not having insurance, than they would have paid previously. And the federal government continued its seemingly inexorable advance toward control of every aspect of citizens’ lives.
Shortly before Obama was elected in 2008, he said, “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” In December 2013, he said that the fact that some people made much more money than others was the “defining challenge of our time.” He believed not in equality of opportunity but equality of outcome, which could only be enforced by the state powers exercised in socialist states. He didn’t make America a socialist state, but with Obamacare and more, he put it firmly on the socialist path, as both Mexico, because of NAFTA, and the People’s Republic of China drew millions of jobs out of the U.S.
Obama’s foreign policy was just as disastrous, although in Iraq the responsibility was not wholly Obama’s. While Obama repeatedly took credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, efforts to find and kill him had been going on for years before he became president. If anything, the raid on bin Laden’s hideout, which was just down the street from a major Pakistani military installation, highlighted the failure of both Bush and Obama to reevaluate and reconfigure America’s alliance in light of the new realities of the global jihad. Pakistan may have been an ally during the Cold War, but it certainly was not by the twenty-first century.
Bush’s policies left Iraq in chaos; Obama inherited the mess. His keeping to the public timetable for withdrawal allowed jihad groups to plan for offensives to begin when the Americans were gone. ISIS was the biggest beneficiary of America’s absence. Then when ISIS did arise, Obama’s response was feeble. However, his withdrawal from Iraq epitomized another problem with America’s undeclared, goalless wars: American troops couldn’t stay in Iraq forever, and anytime they left, the jihadis would take advantage. Obama could have spearheaded the formulation of a new strategy to contain the jihad threat without committing American troops, but since his administration was committed to unreality regarding that threat, that possibility was out of the question.
Meanwhile, Obama’s Iran nuclear deal was dramatically flawed. It even allowed the Iranians under some circumstances to inspect their own nuclear sites and report to the UN on whether or not they were in compliance with the deal. Aside from that, it mandated so much advance notice before anyone from outside could come inspect the sites that the Iranians would have plenty of time to hide anything that was in violation of the deal. And after just ten years, it removed all restrictions on Iran’s ability to construct nuclear weapons.
Even worse, Obama removed economic sanctions on Iran, allowing for a massive cash inflow into the mullahs’ coffers at a time when the nation’s economic instability was threatening the very foundations of the Islamic Republic. He also sent Iran $1.7 billion, in pallets of cash delivered under the cover of night, that the shah’s government had sent to Washington as part of a canceled arms deal in the 1970s, and that Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush had all thought improper to return to the Islamic Republic. Obama broke ranks with them and sent the money to Iran, which promptly used it to finance the activities of the jihad terror group Hizballah and other jihadi groups around the world.
When Obama left the White House, he was hailed and lionized as much as he had been when he took office. Yet he had done nothing but weaken the United States on virtually all fronts. Only a courageous leader with a strong capacity for independent thought could even begin to undo the havoc Obama wrought. That leader has come, and he has not been overrated.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.