In response to criticism and disappointment from the Left, A Consequential President offers a bold assessment of the lasting successes and major achievements of President Obama.
Had he only saved the U.S. economy with his economic recovery act and his program to restore the auto industry, President Obama would have been considered a successful president. He achieved so much more, however, that he can be counted as one of our most consequential presidents.
With The Affordable Care Act, he ended the long-running crisis of escalating costs and inadequate access of treatment that had long-threatened the well-being of 50 million Americans. His energy policies drove down the cost of power generated by the sun, the wind, and even fossil fuels. His efforts on climate change produced the Paris Agreement, the first treaty to address global warming in a meaningful way, and his diplomacy produced a dramatic reduction in the nuclear threat posed by Iran. Add the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the normalization of relations with Cuba, and his “pivot” toward Asia, and President Obama's triumphs abroad match those at home.
Most importantly, as the first African-American president, he navigated race relations and a rising tide of bigotry, including some who challenged his citizenship, while also fighting a Republican Party determined to make him one-term president. As a result, Obama's greatest achievement was restoring dignity and ethics to the office of the president, proof that he delivered his campaign promise of hope and change.
D'Antonio (Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success), a Pulitzer-winning journalist, turns his attention here to President Obama's "policy achievements, moral successes, and historical significance," addressing multiple areas of accomplishment, among them the rescue of the automobile industry and the nuclear-arms agreement with Iran. Focusing on the challenge of a Congress profoundly hostile to the president, D'Antonio guides the reader through the complex process of passing landmark legislation such as the Affordable Care Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. D'Antonio is partisan in that he admires Obama, but as befits a distinguished reporter, his assessments, while not neutral, are certainly balanced. Obama's controversies and the failures are faced as well: the fights over the Keystone XL pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Solyndra debacle, the unfinished dismantling of Guantanamo. Nearly 50 graphs and charts, on subjects such as the growth of alternate energy sources, troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, and generational views of homosexuality further illuminate the subject, and occasional achievement lists serve as shorthand reminders. D'Antonio's work is further enriched by accounts from people and communities quite outside the Washington Beltway.