Obama Presidency 'Over'? We Can Only Wish.

Whether in the laws he signed or the cavalier way that he disregards them, the Obama presidency is far from over

NBC chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd recently declared, about President Obama, "the public is saying, hey buddy, your presidency is over."

The pronouncement was met with a banner headline on the Drudge Report. Senator Rubio, Republican of Florida, ratified the sentiment by telling Sean Hannity on Fox News, "I saw a commentator say that these polls, what they reflect, is that the Obama presidency is over, and I agree with that. I think it is, in general."

Alas, with all respect to Senator Rubio and Mr. Todd, and even more respect to Matt Drudge's shrewd news judgment, Yogi Berra had it right when he said "it ain't over till it's over."

In the case of President Obama, it won't even be over then.

We all will be living with the effects of his presidency for many years to come, long after the Obamas have retired to New York City and Martha's Vineyard. Senator Rubio and Mr. Todd look at the president's sagging poll numbers and see an impotent lame duck. But the reality is that even if President Obama doesn't accomplish another new thing in the next two years, the actions he has already taken make him one of the most consequential presidents ever.

Over? Far from it.

The federal debt held by the public has grown on President Obama's watch to about $12.6 trillion from about $6.8 trillion. The Obama presidency won't be "over" until that nearly $6 trillion in new debt is either paid back or defaulted on. As a percentage of gross domestic product, the federal debt held by the public has soared to 73.8 percent today from 43.8 percent before he took office. The Obama presidency won't be "over" until that figure returns to the status quo ante. Don't hold your breath.

On health care, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act known as ObamaCare remains the law of the land, at least those parts that haven't been waived or unilaterally rewritten by the Obama administration (more about that later). Congressional Republicans have funded its implementation and have no consensus on an alternative. The health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, major hospitals, the states, and major employers have invested enough in adapting to it that a full-scale rewrite or repeal would raise a cry about transition costs and uncertainty. A mere 20 Senate candidates have signed the pledge to repeal ObamaCare.

The power of inertia and framing means that repealing ObamaCare now becomes, at least in the press, a fight in which opponents of the law are depicted as taking away health coverage from sympathetic cancer victims, sick children, and other needy patients. That one's not going to be "over" soon, either.

On immigration, too, Mr. Obama's actions will be hard to undo. His signaling of a path to legal status for illegal immigrant children has attracted a wave of unaccompanied minors. A recent Los Angeles Times article estimated 60,000 will come this year, many of them resident in government shelters. Mr. Obama, in his diminished political state, may be unable to win passage of a law to increase levels of legal immigration or change the laws to create a path to citizenship for illegals. But he's somehow managed to crack open the gates nonetheless.

On foreign policy as on the economy, President Obama and his team kept blaming George W. Bush for problems so often and for so long to the point that it became a laugh line for Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto. But if the next president has to confront a radical Islamist terrorist threat newly strengthened from operating bases in Iraq, in Syria, and in an Iran on the verge of nuclear weapons, he will have some genuine justification for blaming Mr. Obama, whose retreat will be remembered in the Middle East and beyond for years to come.

As for the economy, the chances of a repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation legislation are slimmer even than for a repeal of ObamaCare. So the 13,000 employees that JPMorgan Chase has added in the past couple of years to handle "regulatory issues and compliance" are likely to remain with us, in what passes for job-creation, Obama-style. So, too, is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Dodd-Frank created with a permanent funding stream from the Federal Reserve. The CFPB is spending $145 million to renovate a new headquarters. It won't be "over" anytime soon.

The most enduring and dangerous Obama legacy, though, may be the expansive way he has suspended, waived, and rewritten laws, particularly the health care law. "A lawless president," was the headline the Washington Post placed over a recent George Will column. If that practice outlasts the Obama administration, the left may come to regret it: Imagine a President Ted Cruz citing Obama's actions as precedent for suspending other parts of the ObamaCare or Dodd-Frank laws.

Whether in the laws he signed or the cavalier way that he disregards them, the Obama presidency is far from over. It will be with us for quite some time yet, alas.

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  • ||

    Obama can still do a ton of damage (and we're seeing him push the environmental crap right now) as he continues to try and salvage his disastrous presidency with some sort of "legacy". It certainly isn't over. In fact, the more he feels the need to rehabilitate his image and create a legacy, the more stupid shit he'll do.

  • Almanian!||

    NOTHING is over until WE decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

    HELL NO! And it isn't over now!

  • Aresen||

    I am assuming you are referring to Earth IV after British troops captured Moscow in late 1941.

  • timbo||

    What is amazing is that BO is dumber than bluto.

  • Almanian!||

    "Zero.....point......zero....."

  • gaoxiaen||

    Even more amazing is that people think we'll get a better President after the next election. They only get worse.

  • Robert||

    Popeye agrees.

  • MikePercy||

    A site I frequent has evolved a shorthand "This may be Germans, but...". This means "This topic may have been discussed before, but I haven't seen it."

    The idiom evolved from (seemingly) millions of times that Animal House scene was recounted, only to have some clueless fool pop up to tell the OP how stupid he was for thinking the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. And of course, that sort of comment lead to thousands of responses wherein the respondent was chastised for being a clueless fool ignorant of requisite pop culture.

    Which were then followed by "Didn't we *just* see this same thread last week?" And so now "Germans!" is frequently seen as short hand for "Someone else posted the same thing recently" or as described above as a preamble.

  • chmercier||

    ^This, Epi. I agree - he's actually more dangerous now because, like you say, he's got a "legacy" to build, and has assumed pseudo-dictatorship in order to do it.

    We haven't seen anything yet. I say after this November, we the people lose.

  • Paul.||

    The question is, has he done Bush-levels of damage so that the next president's supporters can whine about it for 8 years hence?

  • thom||

    The classiest way for the next President to blame everything on Obama would be to, on the first day of their presidency, announce that they are wiping the slate clean and refusing to blame anything on their predecessor. Then stick to it. Every time they struggled it would be in the back of everybody's mind that they were just trying to overcome a deck that was stacked against them but were too classy to blame others for their problems.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You know what? No. I'm tired of these guys committing crimes then walking because prosecuting previous administrations "simply isn't done." Fuck that, take them down.

    I'd say the last three, including the one we have now, would definitely be doing or have done time if we were still operating under constitutional limits. Not just impeachment and removal, prison.

  • From the Tundra||

    I agree. Until some of these fuckers does hard time, it's just background noise.

    This IRS thing may actually be the straw - it doesn't seem to be going away.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'd love to see a president go to jail. Yes, I know the media would likely go all Thích Quảng Đức, setting themselves all collectively on fire, if the First Black President™ went to prison, but I've transcended concerns about race and (doing) time.

    If it would make it happen, I'd be happy for Clinton and Bush to go, too.

  • ||

    Sending a president to the big house would be fucking amazing. However, it's never going to happen unless they do something so bad it can't be covered up, papered over, or have flunkies sacrificed for it.

    And if you add in all the cover the media provides for 50% of the presidents we see, it makes it even harder.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I seriously believe that a good chunk of the talking heads would oppose a president going to prison because of the "dignity of the office" even if he murdered someone on camera and confessed on air, too.

  • Rich||

    We must respect The Jack, er, The Office, PL.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Nixon got to retire with his pension. Former President Chen in Taiwan is still doing hard time.

  • Aresen||

    It ain't gonna happen. Their successor, no matter which party, would pardon them.

    Can't have that sort of thing happen to TOP MEN.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I more than agree. I don't think they'd even allow the prosecution in the first place.

  • chmercier||

    Epi - Isn't that the hallmark of the Obama administration? Set up a whole bunch of fall guys and incompetent lackeys to blame for the administration's true intentions?

    Holder and Obama will never see time.

  • ||

    I think it's a hallmark of the type of machine politics they engage in. Common to Chicago and other places. Always have fall guys ready.

  • chmercier||

    True true. I wonder if that's why Putin called Obama a "kid". Local politics played internationally.

    Haha, I bet that's why he can't just figure out places like China and the Middle East. "We gave them money, told them how to live, and they're mad? I don't get it! They need some community outreach, maybe a brochure, and a DMV put in at the corner of 47th and Linden, next to the new library. Yeah. That'll show Assad."

  • From the Tundra||

    I like it!

    Make them share a cell.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Tres hombres presidencial.

  • From the Tundra||

    Yeah, I don't know that "tres hombres" would be accurate for very long with Bubba on the scene.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Tres hombres presidencial y las mujeres de mala calidad.

  • From the Tundra||

    Or maybe he just makes do with O.

  • Rich||

    Think of all the taxpayer money saved on Secret Service protection!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Indeed!

  • Rich||

    if the First Black President™ went to prison,

    we would *truly* be a post-racial society.

    Quite a legacy, that.

  • PapayaSF||

    I'm in favor of the two-term limit: one term in office, one term in prison.

  • Wasteland Wanderer||

    With the second term being twenty-five to life?

  • PapayaSF||

    I'd be happy with equal terms.

  • MikePercy||

    Nonsubscribers will no longer be able to see Taranto's running joke about "We Blame George W Bush" since as noted for today's column

    "Henceforth Best of the Web Today will appear behind the WSJ paywall."

  • Almanian!||

    bummer - that column is the only good thing left at WSJ for my money...well, NOT money, since I won't pay

  • MikePercy||

    Agree. As someone not willing to pay WSJ's prices, I know that I was a freeloader on their site. However, I was a pair of eyeballs for their advertisers and spent a lot of time on the comments.

    Over the last year they kept putting more and more behind the paywall. Used to be able to read comments on paywalled articles. They took that away. They even made Letters to the Editors paywalled. Then they broke their excellent commenting system for a year before launching a new commenting system that sucks. Now they've made Taranto's column paywalled.

    I guess they think that eventually people like me will be forced to fork over $$. But I simply don't foresee it happening given their current price structure (were Digital-only is about $10/year less than Digital & Print, which is about $25/month).

    Sorry, I'm just dropping off entirely.

  • Riven||

    I was disappointed about this, too. Other than the odd opinion article, I really enjoyed Taranto's daily column.

    Now I suspect I won't have any reason to go back.

  • ||

    I would trade having these monsters go to prison for some measure that would kill off the political class altogether.

    Service limits?

  • chmercier||

    Stoll is right. Episiarch said above that Obama is even more dangerous now than he was before. We have until January 2017 with this guy - that's 2.5 years.

    After November, we'll see his soft dictatorship become harder. I hate to sound hyperbolic, but the guy basically said he'll pass laws without congress. And he's already working to do that.

    Anyway, if the Democrats win back the house, they will just pass whatever Obama wants. If the Republicans keep the House and win the Senate, Obama will just circumvent the law, blaming their lack of cooperation and their "obstruction" of progress.

    The only positive to this is that while there's enough of a market left to exploit, people will see that Obama is their wannabe master and the media are their lapdogs. The media and the progs live in some bubble where the majority of people do not.

    Another positive - Stoll's assertion that using the apparatus of dictatorship Obama (and Bush,somewhat) built up to destroy the Obama legacy is bad. It's not. Washington could have used the legal standing of his day to become president for life, but he didn't. Unfortunately, one of the few ways to totally dismantle Obama's horrific legacy is an oxymoronic libertarian dictatorship.

  • Pro Libertate||

    One thing to keep in mind is that if the Republicans do win both houses big, then at least some Democrats in each house will lurch somewhat to the middle, to avoid latter removal. If that happens, some bills will be veto proof.

  • chmercier||

    Pro - True, there is some positivity to this - the Dems, being lifelong politicians, will want to not defang themselves forever by getting too close to Obama and his actions. (It's already happening to a certain extent. But then again, trusting a Democrat...)

    PapayaSF - Probably not, and they probably will lose the Senate too. While I don't put much faith in the voting public, a lot of people I'm sure will remember how the Dems backtracked on their stances as soon as their approval ratings dropped, which makes it clear they're only after election/reelection.

    No fan of the current crop of Repubs, generally, but their obstructionism has "helped" the US survive, if only in a legislative way. (The other thing is the sheer obliviousness of people to the government. What is the black market...er, shadow economy now up to? Something like 20%, helped because of all the inadvertent compliance violations?)

  • VG Zaytsev||

    If the republicans win the Senate they really need to start impeaching people in Obama's administration.

  • PapayaSF||

    There is absolutely no way the Democrats win back the House. They might not lose the Senate, but they will not win back the House.

  • paranoid android||

    Unfortunately, one of the few ways to totally dismantle Obama's horrific legacy is an oxymoronic libertarian dictatorship.

    That's ridiculous. It would be ridiculous even if it weren't completely untrue, and pronouncements like that only give ammo to those "libertarians are the real authoritarians" types.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Missed that. Yes, I'm afraid the Dictatorship of the Anarchists isn't the solution.

  • ||

    You're foolin' yourself! We're livin' in a dictatorship! Help! Help! I'm bein' repressed!

  • chmercier||

    I was agreeing with you!

    I meant dictator in the strictest of senses - he wants to dictate laws. Willing to bypass the legislative body to do this.

    But he ought to go full dictator - get some paramilitary regalia, have huge Soviet-style military parades, massive public outings. Stuff like that. Peace with North Korea would follow quickly!

  • ||

    Oh, what a giveaway. Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about. Did you see him repressing me? You saw it, didn't you?

  • chmercier||

    Oh, snap! Monty Python!

    The real solution to the world's problems? A French castle with its own grail.

  • ||

    You mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

  • chmercier||

    I fart in your general direction!

  • bob sacomano||

    I didn't know you were called Dennis.

  • chmercier||

    I wasn't advocating - "one of the few ways". If I remember right, that's a Hayek thing - a liberal dictatorship is preferable to an illiberal democracy because the former can lead to liberal democracy where the latter will only lead to illiberal autocracy.

    It's a theoretical argument. Personally, I believe the axiom "absolute power corrupts" even if it is to serve a good. Morally, it means that even if a "libertarian dictator" put the laws into place and repealed others, then the dictatorship doors still remain.

    I myself think, of course, that deregulation, drastic reduction of climate change subsidies, privatizing more services, repeal of some of the endless laws and statutes on the books would go a lot further than a libertarian lordship. Decentralization, essentially, must be shown to work, rather than be top-down.

    Sorry if that was unclear. I wouldn't advocate dictatorship - just saying the O's made a huge mess.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Now if I were to become libertarian president through a massive comedy of errors, I'm sure plenty of political nutcases would call me a dictator for exercising my authority to get rid of everything I viewed as unconstitutional, which is a long, long list.

  • chmercier||

    True. (It's hard not imagine that as a comedy though - the Republican candidate gets killed in a pimps vs. cops prostitution sting, the Democrat dies in a toaster accident...then the next ones all get Spanish flu somehow.)

    And yeah, they would. But there are people who said the USSR failed because it was really capitalist and they didn't centralize hard enough.

  • chmercier||

    I think I said this below, but isn't that the argument now? That libertarians are just "robber baron KAPITALISTS who want to enslave humanity and eat their bones becuz teh moneyz is bezt Ayn Rand holla?"

    Nay, compatriot. It would fail because it legitimizes central planning.

    But, enh, the same people who say libertarians are authoritarian are the same people who say that communism failed because it wasn't communist enough. That places like the USSR collapsed because it was actually capitalist. Look up...well, any contemporary Leftist academic, I guess.

  • Paul.||

    After November, we'll see his soft dictatorship become harder. I hate to sound hyperbolic, but the guy basically said he'll pass laws without congress. And he's already working to do that.

    But only laws that Acorn and the SEIU want. So democracy bitch.

  • chmercier||

    Actually, I just got word that my crony company "Sunwindy Belt Motors and Rotors" just got two billion dollars and five slaves! I'm totally going to crush all my competitors! Got a golf date with Biden, bitch. Do you think he still likes baby oil rubbed on his neck and dome?

    I win! See you "freedom lovers"!

  • creech||

    That would be an interesting alternative history novel. Washington declares himself king and then dies in 1799 and has no son to follow him. What happens to the U.S.A.?

  • chmercier||

    Hmm...that would be pretty interesting actually...

    Or even a series of short stories/novellas approaching different scenarios.

  • ||

    It fragments into a bunch of smaller entities that the British systematically attempt to reconquer, distracting them from their attempts to stop Napoleon. Napoleon takes over the continent and creates a massive French controlled state, which causes WWI and II to not happen, and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia is stopped by French forces shortly after it begins. No Soviet Union, no cold war, no US. The French rule the known world. THE END.

  • chmercier||

    Poutine is an international dish, baguettes are everywhere, poetry majors actually have jobs, and the French disease is merely called "the disease".

    Tons of brothels, absinthe, parties. People reject socialism because life's too cool.

    The middle east never becomes a problem: "We have oil!" said the Ottoman Empire. "So do we, you unFrench wispy idiots! Whon honh honh!"

    Ah, the French. The sensitive imperialist bastards. I once explained to a class how the French were not wussies. They invaded Mexico in 1862 because...why not? The US was too busy to stop them, basically...

  • ||

    Poutine isn't French, you heathen. It's Canadian. And it's delicious.

    Did I just find the one good thing to come out of Canada besides all the young hot female actresses playing extras and small roles in almost every TV show because they're all shot in BC?

  • chmercier||

    Yes you did. And it is damned delicious. I was psyched (I'm old, I guess) to find a place that has decent poutine back home in Michigan. Of course, they opened that place after I moved.

    And what is it about some of those Canadian ladies? Must be all the lumberjacking, mountaineering and polar bear fighting. Works the abs. And legs.

    In hypothetical French World, I think poutine would go all over. Kind of like how southern fried chicken is everywhere in the world now.

    If you get the chance to go to Asia, the American style fried chicken is pretty decent. The spicy chicken is actually spicy, not the "oh, there's a peppercorn on it, it's too hot" kind of spicy.

    Shit. Am I a foodytarian?

  • ||

    And what is it about some of those Canadian ladies?

    It's because they're all descended from criminals and retarded monkeys. Oh wait, that's Australians.

    Shit. Am I a foodytarian?

    I certainly am.

  • chmercier||

    Awesome. Hmm...I wonder how well a foody libertarian website/mag would do?

    I bet that foodytarianism is the way to convert middling liberals who are libertarian-leaning.

    They tend to love, as I do, international cuisine and hitting up the non-chain cafes and diners...

  • ||

    "Poutine isn't French, you heathen. It's Canadian."

    Somewhere in Quebecland a nationalist is cursing you. '

  • Mike M.||

    I'll consider us all pretty lucky if his regime ends on January 20, 2017. The way things are going, it's hardly a given.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    On immigration, too, Mr. Obama's actions will be hard to undo. His signaling of a path to legal status for illegal immigrant children has attracted a wave of unaccompanied minors. A recent Los Angeles Times article estimated 60,000 will come this year, many of them resident in government shelters. Mr. Obama, in his diminished political state, may be unable to win passage of a law to increase levels of legal immigration or change the laws to create a path to citizenship for illegals. But he's somehow managed to crack open the gates nonetheless.

    Does Ira believe this is a bad thing? Isn't everyone at reason on board with open borders?

  • ||

    No.

  • widget||

    Isn't everyone at reason on board with open borders?

    I think the 'open boarders' meme is flawed. What if I want to move to Mexico?

    Ain't so easy. The Mexican government is going to want to know my heritage. Fred Reed gets along there though.

    http://www.fredoneverything.net/

    So could I.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Obama's first two years were incredibly awful. It would be unreasonable for someone to expect legislation and action even more hostile to libertarian ideas than what Obama did his first two years in office.

    After the Tea Party victory in the House, he put a sock in it. He wanted to be reelected, and he saw a major threat there--so he mostly dialed it back after his first two years. As bad as Obama's been since then, he's been holding back.

    Once the midterms are over, there's no reason to hold back anymore. We better hope the Republicans take the Senate outright because Obama's gonna bring it after the midterms. After the midterms, Obama's taking the gloves off--there will no longer be any reason not to go balls out.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Frankly, I think he'll be massively on the defensive if the GOP controls both houses. It'll take a smoking gun that doesn't currently publicly exist for him to get impeached, but that's not the case for members of his administration. Expect a small shitstorm, even from the wussy Republicans.

  • widget||

    You are missing the deep state encampment. I don't want to sound off like a conspiracy theorist, but the deep state has to be turned off. Obama doubled the number of employees in the Department of Education. You wonder why there's a push for the Common Core curriculum. This may or may not be a good idea, but don't resist.

  • widget||

    The USA, 2014, could not invent a transistor or send a man to the moon. It can't win a war or even define one. Get negative about the USA.

    Where Chelsea Manning is the voice of reason:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06......html?_r=1

  • booboobambam||

    Elections have far reaching consequences.

    As you point out, the damage Obama has done to our economy, the Middle East, and the survival of what little remained of our Constitutional Republic have all but "fundamentally transformed America" into a thoroughly corrupt cesspool.

    He took crony capitalism to a new level while sticking the knife into our democratic republic with his refusal to follow Constitutional restraints, the rule of law, and any moral or ethical principle that makes a human trustworthy and respectable. His Socialist, anti-America, racist, terrorist-loving executive orders and acts clearly will effect all of us for years to come.

  • ||

    Forward!

  • widget||

    We're toast.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Burnt toast.

  • Brian||

    I've learned not to get excited by presidencies ending.

  • Dixon_Sider||

    It's a one-way ratchet: the President always gets more authoritarian.

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