Obama: The Last Year and the Legacy, Part 1

In The News Piece in Foreign Policy
Jan. 13, 2016

The State of the Union speech is over, but the Obama presidency is not. Barack Obama has one last year in the White House: one last year to finish unfinished business, fix mistakes, and live up to the hopes of the tens of millions of Americans who first swept him into office in 2008. Pundits keep saying it’s time for Obama to focus on his legacy. For once, they’re right.

The president won’t have an easy task. Despite some significant accomplishments — the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate change accord, for instance — a majority of Americans disapprove of his overall job performance, and an even larger majority disapproves of his foreign-policy performance. Barring divine intervention, a year isn’t long enough for Obama to bring peace to the Middle East or turn Russia and China into genuine democracies.