In the history of our country there has never been a perfect president. Although a small number of people may want to hold the president to an unattainable perfection, most Americans simply want a competent, trustworthy executive. It is in the understanding of that simplicity that we can better judge whether a presidential administration is a success or a failure.
In a recent Quinnipiac University Poll, 33 percent of those surveyed ranked President Obama the worst president since World War II (the modern presidential era), followed by his predecessor George W. Bush. Looking deeper into the poll we find Obama gets failing marks on every key issue: foreign policy, terrorism, health care and the economy. On the domestic front, the president is widely considered to be tasked with being the chief guardian of the economy and chief legislator. None of these responsibilities means the president is expected to use a heavy hand in addressing issues associated with these roles; in fact, many would agree a gentle hand is better suited. It merely means the president should understand how actions and inactions from the executive branch affect the continuity of these vital responsibilities.
It is important to remember that only Congress has the constitutional power to pass legislation, but the president is expected to develop relationships with members of Congress from both parties. As the chief legislator, Obama has been an absolute failure, and contrary to the false public narrative some push, especially Obama, it is a failure of his own making.
Presidents Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 all had a hostile Congress to deal with at certain phases of their administrations. Whether you agree with the legislation or compromises that occurred during these other presidencies, there was one key difference between them and Obama — relationship building.
Forget all the public banter and bloviating, which is just Washington theatrics. In the end, politicians are survivalists, and if there is a piece of legislation that will help them get re-elected, regardless of party politics, that politician will break from his party and support it. However, if the president distances himself from Congress, as Obama has, friction is aggravated and Washington grinds to a halt.
Reagan was constantly vilified, but yet he worked with Tip O’Neill. Bush 41 broke his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge to work with Democrats (who in turn used it against him in the 1992 election). Clinton was a master at congressional relationships, meeting weekly with various members of Congress, especially Republicans. Bush 43 worked with Ted Kennedy (who publicly mocked Bush) as well as other key Democrats on education, immigration and social programs. Some of this legislation failed, sometimes the relationships faltered, but each of these four presidents respected the role as chief legislator. As chief legislator, Obama is dismissive and uninterested in relationship building.
The Huffington Post, National Journal, Politico, Washington Post (to name a few) have all done stories based on the dissatisfaction from members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, complaining that Obama was “aloof” and “disengaged.” A simple glance at the Obama daily agenda from the day he entered office to today shows a pathetic number of meetings with members of Congress, and usually only during major crises. The key, as Reagan and Clinton demonstrated, is to meet regularly with Congress in times of calm, which helps establish a comfort level that will be needed during watershed moments.
As chief guardian of the economy, the Obama administration has mishandled our economy in large part because he believed only big government had the answers. Failing to heed the words of Milton Friedman (who, like Obama, taught at the University of Chicago), “The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.”
Each of the other four presidents I have mentioned all had severe economic issues to deal with. Bush 43 entered office as the tech bubble burst, a shrinking economy due to Y2K and the economic impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. To date, the fall of the world economy due to the 9/11 attacks is actually listed as incalculable (interpretation: immense).
There is a legitimate debate as to whether Obama and Reagan had to deal with a worse economy. However, when you compare Reagan and Obama’s “recovery” at the same points in time, the Reagan economy was booming (18.2 percent growth) while Obama’s economy is limping along (a pitiful projected 3.2 percent growth). In fact, across the board — GDP, employment, wages, personal debt and the decline of the median household income by an average of $4,500 — Obama’s numbers are the worst of any modern president.
In the four years since the proclamation that our most recent recession had ended, the GDP average under Obama is the worst it has been in 100 years. If you wave a magic wand and double the current GDP average under Obama, it would still be the worst in 60 years. BLS unemployment numbers (including those who exited the work force or are underemployed, which is not counted by the U-3 unemployment rate) are the worst in 60 years. Work force participation is at one of the lowest levels since the keeping of this record, and real-number unemployment estimates are closer to 16-19 percent, according to SGS Alternative Unemployment Rate. Good jobs are not coming back, even if you take a look at the most recent jobs numbers report, wages remain stagnate, work force participation keeps shrinking and the trend from a full-time to a part-time jobs economy is continuing. In comparison, President Carter managed to produce four times as much economic growth during his one term as Obama did during his entire first term. And prior to today, many people felt Carter was the worst modern president when it came to handling the economy.
The reason for the continued poor economy? Instead of cutting the debt and deficit, spending under Obama exploded during his first two years and was only restrained when the people elected representatives to fight the fiscal madness. Instead of cutting tax rates, which always provides incentives for increased production, Obama raised tax rates. Instead of deregulation, the Obama administration has increased regulation (usually by means of executive fiat), which increases the cost of doing business, creates uncertainty and results in barriers to productive activity.
When you take an objective look at the Obama administration, whether it is a commitment to integrity and transparency, to a coherent foreign strategy, sound economic policies and an adult approach to leadership, it is not hard to see why President Obama has been rated the worst president in modern history.