As we come to the close of the administration of Barack Obama, journalists and historians are scrambling to write the early returns on the Obama administration.
As these analysts take a step back short term views of a captious press, and the withering right wing alt reality attacks on his administration, a consensus is forming that Barack Obama had a highly successful presidency. And it's not just because millions of Americans are panicking at what they see coming after him.
If you look at the 12 post-war presidents, you find some presidents that did some great things, but who also had some big negatives. Johnson with his Medicare, Medicaid and civil rights accomplishments, along with a good performing economy would have been considered in the great category, were it not for the Vietnam war. Ronald Reagan is held in the highest esteem in some circles for, perhaps, hastening the end of the Cold War, and recording strong economic growth. But then he ushered in the twin deficits: massive federal deficits and trade deficits. He also lacked vision in the key areas of any modern presidency, environmental steward ship and social progress, especially the AIDS crisis.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, has no big negatives to counter his accomplishments. While some may point to the mounting debt, reasonable people must also acknowledge that he cut a trillion dollars off the annual deficits. What he inherited was far worse than what Reagan inherited. The economy was in freefall at the end of Bush 43, but not at the end of Carter.
With health care reform and the unmeasured (by GDP) value of the peace of mind, the reduction in the risk of another financial crisis (financial reform), unprecedented protections of the environment and social change, Barack Obama can claim the best presidency since Truman.