This first week of the year is devoted to posts on the big political picture.
Yesterday I wrote about my main criticism of President Obama. Today I want to say that, on the whole, I think he has done a masterful job under very difficult circumstances.
President Obama first had to clean up the gigantic mess left by the previous administration. He prevented a major depression, ended a misbegotten war, is winding down a more justified war, killed bin Laden, ended torture, restored America's stature in the world, saved the auto industry, resumed regulating the finance industry, and started protecting the environment again.
Obama also came in to office with a positive agenda. His main achievement was to create universal health care, an objective of Democratic administrations since Truman. He started investing more in alternative energy, rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, working with our allies, and shifting our military focus toward Asia.
He also made the most of some unexpected opportunities, most importantly the Arab Spring. President Obama supported indigenous revolutions against Arab dictators, without sending American troops, spending a trillion dollars, alienating our allies, or creating loathing for America among the "liberated" people. The contrast with the Iraq war is striking in this regard. And the chances of successful democracy are greater than in Iraq, though still iffy in both cases.
One great achievement of the Obama administration is something it did not do: it did not make our enemies do worse things by threatening them. The President did not invent an "axis of evil," pushing them to invest in nuclear weapons against an American threat.
And President Obama achieved all of this in the face of a determined foe whose sole objective was to deny the president any achievements: the leadership of the Republican Party. As Senator McConnell said at the outset of the current administration, the main goal of Republicans is to deny President Obama a second term.
Obama has been a very good president. I hope in the coming year he will prove to be an excellent one.