And pushing through good decisions.
Gideon Lichfield of Quartz puts it magnificently in a piece headlined ‘Barack Obama’s lame-duck period could be one of the least lame ever’: “It’s said of Jimmy Carter that he’s America’s best ex-president. Barack Obama, on the other hand, may be shaping up as its best soon-to-be-ex-president.”
Indeed, Mr Obama’s achievements in his second term are a long and glorious list. Working backwards, they are as follows:
- the #Iran deal
- lifting the embargo on #Cuba
- a new focus on overcrowding in US prisons and why there are so many of them are black
- the signature health-care reform, the Affordable Care Act colloquially known as Obamacare
- relatively safe stewardship of the economy despite all the problems of the 2008 meltdown and all that followed. By the time Mr Obama leaves the White House, unemployment figures are expected to be back where they were before the crisis.
As Mr Lichfield points out, “the lame-duck label belies the fact that, unencumbered by politics, late-term presidents often achieve big things. George W. Bush launched the Iraq war ‘surge’. Bill Clinton got China into the WTO. Ronald Reagan helped end the Cold War.”
Mr Obama may have gone further and done better than all three if them.
Except perhaps for Guantanamo Bay? As Mr Obama admitted just a few months ago, if he were to have his time over, his first order of business would be to close the controversial detention camp . “I think I would have closed Guantánamo on the first day,” Mr Obama said regretfully, adding that he didn’t realise that politics would change and hold it all up. Even though he’s whittled the prison numbers down to 122, this is one presidential promise that remains unkept.