Yes, I know — he was just named Gallup’s “Most Admired Man” yesterday, but everything you need to know about the validity of that honor is that the “Most Admired Woman” award went to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
While his name has rarely been in the news in 2017, Obama’s policies were nearly always in the headlines — or at least behind them.
The economy, for example. It’s hard not to notice the stock market’s performance since Trump’s win: A 250-point jump the next day, and up more than 6,000 points (more than 30 percent!) since Election Day. Not Inauguration Day — the day Trump policies would begin. No, the markets merely needed to know that the Obama-era policies were ending for the rally to start.
And they were right, too. The economy has grown twice as fast under Trump than it ever did during any year of the Obama administration. Obama had eight years in power, pushed through major legislation like Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, doubled the national debt — and the economy grew at a pathetic 1.5 percent his last two years in office.
Every day of over-the-top economic news in 2017 was a reminder of just how badly Obama under-performed as president.
The same is true with foreign policy, where Trump’s boldness in Syria, North Korea and at the U.N. — not to mention the collapse of ISIS — are backhanded blows to the Obama legacy. The Obama administration spent months dancing around phony red lines over chemical attacks on children in Syria. It took President Trump just one missile barrage to put Syria’s Bashar Assad back in his box and blow up Obama’s legacy of fecklessness.
Every time Kim Jong Un was in the news in 2017, it was a desperate attempt to bring back the “brilliance” of Obama’s “Strategic Patience.” The missiles Kim fired and nukes he tested in 2017 are all products of years of Obama policy.
And how many Americans responded the way I did to the announcement that we were finally acknowledging Israel’s capital is Jerusalem — “What a bold move! Why didn’t Obama do that?” If you think about it, such a declaration — attached to a broader peace deal — would have sounded very “Obama-esque” in 2009 or 2010. By 2017, the promise of “Bold Barack” had long been replaced with “Obama the Bureaucrat,” the guy so desperate to get a deal down on paper that he would literally ignore drug-running by an international terrorist organization to do so.
And this, I think, is why the Obama legacy was the single biggest loser of 2017. If you haven’t read the devastating Politico piece by Josh Meyer on how the Obama administration quashed investigations into crimes by Hezbollah as part of the Iran-deal push, don’t worry: Historians will. And, I assume, so will members of the Trump Department of Justice. It’s part of the biggest front-page story of 2017: the partisan corruption of federal law enforcement under the Obama administration.
We may never know if Trump colluded with the Putin regime to win the 2016 election, but we already know that pro-Hillary/anti-Trump politics corrupted the Obama Justice Department’s response. Partisan FBI agents, one with a wife working for a Democratic oppo-research firm targeting Trump; a suspicious surge in the intel community of “unmasking” requests focused on the Trump campaign; and perhaps most disturbing, reports that the infamous “Russia dossier” was used by a Democratic DOJ to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
This story alone could be enough to damage a political legacy. For President Obama it was just one story in a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad 2017.