We don’t yet know if it will have much in the way of consequences in the world, but one of many ways in which letting Donald Trump take over their Party and become president under their banner was a mistake for Republicans is that, compared to Trump, Barack Obama looks better and better every day as president.
It is pretty easy to find reason to criticize any president of the United States. It’s a very hard job with a steep learning curve, for those who learn, which Trump does not. Before the Civil War, most of them owned slaves, including the ones we usually admire and hold up as highly effective presidents, although Abraham Lincoln, who inadvertently brought about the end of slavery just by winning, often gets ranked as our best president ever. While he was in office, and since, people have pointed to his willingness to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, arguably the centerpiece of the due process of law, during the Civil War. At the beginning of the War, he had no intention of eliminating slavery and ordered military commanders to return runaway slaves to their owners. Nobody is perfect.
Obama was not perfect. It’s too early to tell, but he likely will not ever make it to any of the top three spots on historians’ lists of our best presidents. For some time, after Lincoln, George Washington (despite owning slaves) and Franklin Roosevelt get the top three spots. Although the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq simmered, and he made major decisions about U.S. involvement (or lack of it) in Syria and Libya, Obama was not officially a war time president, unlike all three of the top three. Like it or not, the circumstances in which he served have a substantial impact on one’s ranking as president.
But Obama explicitly ran on enacting health care reform for his first term, and he got Congress to pass it, along with a major economic stimulus package to counteract the recession he inherited when he took office, which together ensure that his impact on the country persists after he left office, much to the chagrin of Republicans. And, which makes him shine compared to his immediate successor, he had no scandals at all after two terms in office. No special prosecutors for Obama, which looks like an achievement all by itself in our post Nixon era, although it should be the norm.
So, amusingly, despite their absurd hatred of Obama throughout his two terms as president — his most vocal critics just sounded foolish with their birther nonsense and whining about brown mustard and tan suits — Republicans have guaranteed that Obama will always look better as president than he might otherwise simply because he had the good fortune to serve between two Republican dim bulbs.