Obama’s Nonexistent Legacy

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

“Trump did more than any democrat to deflate the neocon/neoliberal agenda that liberals themselves screamed was fascist when Bush was president.”

That was a brilliant and profoundly true reader-comment posted November 14th about Hillary Clinton supporters who were demonstrating against Trump’s winning the Presidency. Hillary was even more of a war-hawk than Bush was, or than Obama was: she supported not just Bush’s invasion of Iraq, but Obama’s invasions of Libya and Syria, a coup in Honduras, and helped plan Obama’s coup in Ukraine, which led to Ukraine’s breaking apart into civil war. Plus she was even more of a champion of Wall Street than Obama was, and maybe even more so than Bush was. Yet many Democrats think that the anti-Establishment Donald Trump is, somehow, even worse. They claim that Trump is a “racist” — as though either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton hadn’t been leading a country where the top 0.1% got the vast majority of the economic benefits and the bottom 90% — including especially Blacks and Hispanics — got no gains at all, neither in income nor in wealth. So: what good did Obama do for Blacks-as-a-whole, or for Hispanics-as-a-whole? Other than invasions, there was nothing real, just words of “racial reconciliation” and other hypocrisies, for which he did little or nothing.

Obama has no legacy except words (words that often contradicted his actual decisions in office). Mere words are just a nullity; all that counts is actions. Empty words are, perhaps, lies, insincere expressions; but they certainly aren’t actions; they’re no legacy at all (especially when the speaker’s actions belie his words).

Democrats want to blame Republicans for Obama’s failures about everything; and Republicans did all they could to help him fail, but those same Republicans also condemned Donald Trump until he won the White House, and your enemy’s enemy is your friend; so, why is Donald Trump not Democrats’ friend? Maybe he’s an enemy to both the Republican and the Democratic Establishment. Only time will tell; they’ll tell when his words become replaced with actions, which will show what he really is. But the anti-Trump protesters are not — at least as of yet — protesting his actions. Democrats simply want President Trump to fail, like Republicans had wanted Obama to fail. But it’s only Obama (and Clinton) who is a proven failure, with a lousy-to-no legacy of achievement; so, why aren’t there Democratic demonstrations against him (and her), instead?

The Clinton-Obama Democrats who remain loyal to the Democratic Party in the wake of Trump’s victory, are world-champion hypocrites, even if they’re too oblivious of reality to know it. The Clinton-Obama political tradition, of pro-megacorporate government, actually repudiates, instead of embodies, the Democratic Party that real progressives are proud of: the Democratic Party’s earlier, quintessential period: the 1932-1980 FDR-dominated (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) era — the most progressive period in all of U.S. history.

Though I voted both times for Barack Obama, he turned out to be one of the worst U.S. Presidents, if not the worst of them all — even if he was (as I thought each time) the better of the bad (in each election).

His only real legacy as President turns out to have been disasters, including things far worse than his failed Obamacare, which increased the healthcare inflation-rate in our country, where healthcare already costs twice as much — and twice as high a percentage of GDP — as the international OECD average, but delivers inferior healthcare results. America is becoming internationally even less competitive in our healthcare system than before — which was already at the international bottom. It’s sucking the lifesblood out of the U.S. economy.

But most of the real hell that Obama produced is in foreign countries: his bloody coup in Ukraine followed by civil war there, and, before that, the bloody catastrophe in Libya, and the bloody years-long attempt (ever since Obama first came into office) to overthrow the non-sectarian leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, and replace him with Al Nusra and other jihadists that the Obama-regime weaponized and the Saud regime (America’s ‘allies’) financed and recruited hoping for them to replace Assad and produce a Sharia-law Syrian government. Al Qaeda in Syria — “Al Nusra” — were leading Obama’s ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria. Obama lied and said he was supporting only ‘moderate rebels’. The Administration kept the reality hidden from the American public until late in October when Hillary’s victory seemed assured and so Obama started to acknowledge publicly that he was actually backing all of the anti-Assad people there except ISIS. Thus, for example, on October 20th, Russia’s Sputnik News quoted an interview two days earlier in which the American Russia-expert Stephen Cohen had remarked upon this sudden change:

“If you pick up a paper today the narrative is completely different,” the US academic stressed, “In Aleppo there are only rebels, there are no longer terrorists. You don’t see the word ‘terrorist’ or ‘jihadist’ in the narrative any more. And alongside them, with rebels protecting them, there are children who are being killed by Russian and Syrian war planes.” As the whole narrative has been re-written, Moscow and Damascus are now being portrayed as “war criminals” which are targeting civilians in Aleppo, he noted.

Whereas previously, Obama behind-the-scenes had been protecting and arming the non-ISIS jihadists even while acknowledging that they existed, he was now starting publicly to acknowledge that the U.S. was actually supporting them.

According to the US academic, the inconvenient truth is that the US and its allies in one way or another have abetted terrorists in Syria for many years. “The motive of the United States, the only mission that the US has in Syria, is removing [Syrian President] Assad from power,” Cohen emphasized, adding that the most powerful force fighting against Damascus are jihadi terrorists.

But after the election, because Trump will be Obama’s successor, Obama has finally decided that Al Qaeda and the other jihadist groups that it leads in Syria are no longer ‘moderates’, but instead are people to target and kill in Syria. Finally — after his having long refused to join Russia’s air-campaign to kill them there.

Not only did Obama protect the jihadists in Syria, but by doing so he created hell there, and even Western-sponsored polling shows that the vast majority of the Syrian population blame the U.S. above all as being the global power that enables the jihadists to destroy their country.

I write this as a three-time voter for Barack Obama (both the primaries and the general election in 2008, and then again the general in 2012). I first became disappointed with Obama soon after his election in 2008 as President, when, on 25 November 2008, he chose as the White House’s chief economic advisor the snobbish Republican-turned-Democrat Lawrence Summers, whose advice to President Bill Clinton in 1999 had encouraged him to terminate FDR’s Glass-Steagall separation of consumer-banking (checking and savings accounts) from investment-banking (Wall Street’s casinos). That Clinton action had left the FDIC protections of savers on the hook to bail out the billionaire gamblers who found themselves without a musical-chairs seat when the music finally stopped and George W. Bush’s MBS Ponzi real-estate economy came crashing down in 2007-2008. The purpose of ending Glass-Steagall was to put taxpayers ultimately on the hook for billionaires’ stock-and-bond gambling-losses. Wall Street’s propaganda said that doing this deregulation would ‘unleash capitalism’, but all it really unleashed was the banksters. Clinton’s repeal of Glass-Steagall necessitated the Bush-Obama bailout of Wall Street — Main Street’s bailout of Wall Street. That’s part of Bill Clinton’s delayed legacy. But it’s also Bush-Obama’s legacy during their Administrations. 

I recognized Obama to be a total fake ‘progressive’ because, the day before appointing Summers, he had appointed, on 24 November 2008, yet another pro-repeal ‘Democrat’, Summers’s friend Timothy Geithner, who was the G.W. Bush era’s N.Y. Federal Reserve Bank President and thus king of Wall Street, to become U.S. Treasury Secretary, supposedly to help America recover from the crash that Geithner and Summers and Bill Clinton had in crucial ways created. (The other major way they created the crash was their supporting total deregulation of derivative securities — turning derivatives into the financial system’s crack cocaine. Brilliant! Brilliantly evil.)

And even before that, on November 18th, Obama had appointed Eric Holder to be Attorney General, signaling that the U.S. ‘Justice’ Department under Obama was to become headed by Wall Street’s Mr. Unaccountability, an infamous champion of keeping billionaires not only unconvicted and even uncharged but uninvestigated on any criminal law the billionaire might actually have committed — and thus out of prison.

Even then — before he had so much as entered the White House — Obama showed that he wasn’t really interested in serving the public but in protecting the banksters, just like Bill Clinton and G.W. Bush had done before him. I kept voting for Obama because the alternative — originally Hillary Clinton, and then John McCain, in 2008, but now Romney in 2012 — was even worse. The system itself was rotten; it gave us only a choice only between bads (goods for the aristocracy, but bads for the public) — this was by now clear.

And here’s how bad President Obama actually was:

On 27 March 2009, Obama secretly told the chieftains of Wall Street assembled at a private meeting inside the White House (from which these morsels leaked out), “My Administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks,” thus comparing these billionaires and agents of billionaires, with the martyred Blacks whom KKKers in previous decades had chased with pitchforks before lynching. But that’s not all of what Obama said to the banksters. This arrogant self-identifier with the aristocracy was very direct with them about his siding with them and their agents who had ripped off the entire world and enriched themselves thereby: “You guys have an acute public relations problem, and I want to help. … I’m not out there to go after you. I’m protecting you.” And that’s exactly what he then, in fact, did (he told the truth only to his masters, never to their victims, the public):

On 15 November 2011, TRAC Reports headlined that “Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Institution Fraud Continue to Fall”, to record lows under Obama, even below the pathetic level of George W. Bush. 2009 was a record low. 2010 was a new record low. So was 2011. TRAC Reports never issued a follow-up article on that, but on 21 October 2016, they headlined with their usual understatement, “White Collar Crime Prosecutions for August 2016”, and showed there that since 2003 each month’s white-collar-crime prosecutions had peaked in 2011, and now were at record lows in 2015 and 2016. This at least suggests that the category of white-collar crimes that consists of “financial institution fraud” had at least not risen from its all-time low posted in 2011.

During Obama’s 24 January 2012 State of the Union address, he promised “to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. (Applause.) This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law.” He lied. Two years later, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice issued on 13 March 2014 its “Audit of the Department of Justice’s Efforts to Address Mortgage Fraud”, and reported “We found mortgage fraud to be a low priority, or not [even] listed as a priority, for the FBI Field Offices we visited.” No wonder that white-collar-crime prosecutions were subsequently at record lows. It’s not merely Hillary Clinton and her emails; it’s the entire aristocracy who stand above the nation’s laws, under Barack Obama’s Presidential Administration.

Impunity hidden behind lies is what defines Obama’s Presidential legacy.

But it’s zero in other ways, too.

Obama’s most ambitious project was his three proposed mega-‘trade’ treaties — TPP, TTIP, and TISA — each of which was designed with a feature in it called “Investor State Dispute Resolution” or ISDS, which empowers international corporations to sue any signatory nation that will increase any regulation regarding the environment or product-safety or the rights of workers (employees) — no matter what the latest scientific findings on such a given subject might happen to indicate. The international corporation can sue for ‘loss of profits’ when any such regulation is made more stringent. Profits to stockholders are thus made sovereign and protected above the citizenry, the electorate; the controlling stockholder in an international corporation is granted rights that are above the rights of any mere citizen — even if that controlling stockholder lives abroad, and even if the international corporation is a foreign corporation. ISDS grants only one-way rights to sue: corporations suing governments, no governments suing corporations. Taxpayers pay those fines. The suits — this new profit-center for international corporations at the public’s expense — are heard in no court of law in any nation but instead in international-corporate panels, each having three ‘arbitrators’ no judges and no juries and no democratic accountability to any electorate at all except to stockholders who elect the board of directors in their international corporation, which is suing. Hillary Clinton favored it and would probably have passed some or all of these fascist-world-government treaties, into law; but, instead, Donald Trump will be President. He is far less likely to move forward with Obama’s grand scheme to spread ISDS — a world government controlled by international corporations — like wildfire around the world.

“Poverty Rose In 96% Of U.S. House Districts, During Obama’s Presidency”. What does Obama have to show for his 8 years in the White House? He served his masters well, even if not as well as he had been hoping (to pass into law his ISDS-infested international-trade mega-treaties: TPP, TTIP, and TISA). The income and wealth of the billionaires soared like at no time since 1923-1928. The “Share of income and wealth of bottom 90% wealth holders” both declined. He served his masters well. But they weren’t the American public, and they certainly weren’t the publics in other nations, especially not in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Honduras, and Haiti, in each of which nations Obama made things far worse, and turned those lands into hells.

Was Barack Obama even worse than George W. Bush? Bush achieved almost all of the evil he pushed for; by contrast, Obama failed to achieve his biggest legacy-item of all: passage into law of his three international-corporate-government ‘trade’ treaties, which would have done more harm to the world’s future than all the rest of his Presidency combined — even made impossible any implementation of an effective regulation of greenhouse gases (about which Obama’s rhetoric feigned concern). Obama was trying to be even worse than he was ultimately able to be. Because of Bernie Sanders’s and Donald Trump’s shared leadership, those treaties finally became politically too toxic to pass. Maybe Obama there was prevented from being the worst U.S. President ever. That failure did more to improve Obama’s legacy than any of his successes did.

“Democratic Leadership ADMITS that Clinton Lost the Election Because of Voters’ Economic Worries” — click onto that and you’ll see that “the Democratic leadership itself admits that the economy is the issue that sunk Clinton.” Hillary Clinton was running on Obama’s record except she was even more for “regime change” than he.

To call Obama’s legacy “zero” or “nonexistent” would actually be unrealistic praise of him; his legacy is actually deeply negative. No doubt he’ll be rewarded handsomely for it, by his masters — which never were the American public.

Barack Obama was the greatest con-artist ever to occupy the U.S. White House. If he has any legacy (besides the hell he created in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere), that’s it. (After all, he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, didn’t he?)

So: no, it wasn’t actually “nonexistent”; it was atrocious.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • wunsacon

    Agree entirely.

  • Turk 151

    He certainly seems to be the least courageous person to occupy the Whitehouse. That character flaw in the aftermath of Bush, the least principled has been no devastating for the US.

  • kimyo

    if obama is ‘the greatest con-artist ever’ shouldn’t we be skeptical of his oft-repeated claim that ‘climate change is the greatest threat to america’, especially when his proposed solution is a tax on carbon? he has never once mentioned conservation, which is the most immediately effective approach, and easiest to implement.

    war on terror – lost
    war on gun violence – lost
    war on drugs – lost
    war on cholesterol – lost
    war on poverty – lost
    war on racism – lost
    war on carbon – ???

    • Eric Zuesse

      That’s arguing: A liar is saying such-and-such, so isn’t his saying it evidence that such-and-such is false?

      The answer is: Of course not!

      • kimyo

        if the social scientists ever devise a method to measure cognitive dissonance, you really must volunteer as a subject.

        zuesse re: climate change:

        People who deny that global warming even exists are a combination of liars and their suckers, because the scientific evidence on the question is clear and overwhelming. And people who speculate that global warming will be good not bad are insane.

        zuesse re: election2016: ‘vote trump’.

        what’s your secret? copious amounts of hard liquor? trepanation?

        • cityspeak

          I understand cognitive dissonance as an internal mental condition.

          You might want to tell the north pole to “snap out of it”.


          • kimyo

            the north pole and i aren’t speaking right now. but there’s interesting things going on in antarctica:
            Scott and Shackleton logbooks prove Antarctic sea ice is not shrinking 100 years after expeditions

            Antarctic sea ice had barely changed from where it was 100 years ago, scientists have discovered, after poring over the logbooks of great polar explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton.

            Experts were concerned that ice at the South Pole had declined significantly since the 1950s, which they feared was driven by man-made climate change.

            But new analysis suggests that conditions are now virtually identical to when the Terra Nova and Endurance sailed to the continent in the early 1900s, indicating that declines are part of a natural cycle and not the result of global warming.

            It also explains why sea ice levels in the South Pole have begun to rise again in recent years, a trend which has left climate scientists scratching their heads.

            “We know that sea ice in the Antarctic has increased slightly over the past 30 years, since satellite observations began. Scientists have been grappling to understand this trend in the context of global warming, but these new findings suggest it may not be anything new.

          • cityspeak

            97% of scientist and scientific organization are in agreement that the climate is changing due to human activity.
            So why would curbing consumption of fossil fuels and aggressively pursuing green technologies be detrimental? Detrimental to the fossil fuel industry.
            It is also well documented that the fossil fuel industry is undercutting and manipulating climate science much like the tobacco industry did around the consequences of smoking. The fossil fuel industry is following the same exact play book as the tobacco industry.
            I’ve been around long enough to know the stranglehold corporations have around the neck of most of humanity. As a matter of fact if you think of the great horrors that have visited mankind in the last 100 years you’ll find a spider web of corporations working to detriment of mankind.
            Look up Standard Oil’s role in the horror that was WWII.
            Funny how in the USA the great evil was Nazis philosophy but that philosophy would have remained an inert virus if Adolf didn’t have the power and money of big capital behind him.
            Now more than ever in the USA people are screaming Fascism but they never ever say the second part of the definition that is Fascism, which is government working hand in glove with “CORPORATE POWER”. How strange that in the land of the free and the brave even though many are suspicious and wary of the Government, and in many cases wise to be so, the worship of Corporations, their wealth and power, are practically worshipped.

          • kimyo

            So why would curbing consumption of fossil fuels and aggressively pursuing green technologies be detrimental

            because we don’t have a solution which can power snow plows, garbage trucks, cargo vessels, school buses, agricultural/mining machinery or tractor trailers.

            current climate legislation is the ultimate ‘bridge to nowhere’. full of empty promises, elon-musk-style bs hyperloop/monorail non-solutions with trillion dollar price tags.

            if you truly want to get us off of fossil fuels (as i do) you must first develop and test their replacements. life without snow plows and tractor trailers is pretty damn miserable.

            When Trucks Stop Running, So Does Civilization. Energy and the Future of Transportation

            Virtually everything in our homes, everything in our stores, got there on a truck. Prior to that, 90 percent of those items were transported on a ship and/or a train. If trucks, trains, and ships stopped running, our global economy and way of life would stop too.

            The impact of peak oil on commercial transportation has been of great interest to me after a 22-year career at American President Lines, where I developed computer systems to keep cargo seamlessly moving around the globe and just-in-time between ships, rail, trucks, and customers.

            Ships, trucks, and trains are the backbone of civilization, hauling the goods that fulfill our every need and desire. Their powerful, highly-efficient diesel combustion engines are exquisitely fine-tuned to burn petroleum-based diesel fuel. These engines and the fuels that fire them have been among the most transformative yet disruptive technologies on the planet. This is a dependency we take for granted.

  • Walt Hess

    Good article Eric – His legacy is that of a deceitful and treacherous two faced creep who drug the American flag through the mud. I won’t feel better until he’s out of office – he still has time to screw something up.

  • Kansas_Voter

    Obama’s legacy is that he was the greatest republican President ever. He’s been at war all eight years of his term, he’s prosecuted more whistleblowers than all Presidents combined, Obamacare was a sweetheart giveaway to the insurance companies, and the list of right-wing accomplishments goes on and on–not to mention the huge gains that republicans made at all levels of government while he was in office. For example, people think that Kansas is a solid-red state (and it is), but in 2008 we had a (two term) democrat for Governor, Attorney General, and two of the four U.S. Congressmen were democrats but now the republicans occupy all Federal elected offices and all other major State offices.

  • ICFubar

    It all depends from where you view what Obama has wrought. For those Obama served they will probably be mostly content with what their man in the White House has been able to accomplish for them. Despite their man being outsmarted by the Russian President and sidetracking their intended military deluge for the destruction of Syria ‘things’ went fairly well towards the advancement of their goals, only stalling due to being partially out maneuvered by the Russians. All in all a not totally unsuccessful run for eight years as continuity of agenda moves again under a different meme with the next White House occupant.