Obama’s last-ditch efforts to establish a legacy are embarrassing

It’s something every American president has thought about and most probably obsess over: their legacy.

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Since the presidency is one of the most documented and talked about clubs of all time, the few who’ve held the office are typically very mindful of how their stint in the White House will be remembered.

This is why presidential memoirs exist. Knowing that pundits and historians will argue the merits and shortcomings of their respective administrations, presidents put forth their own interpretations of their stays on Pennsylvania Avenue after they retire.

But we can all be sure that legacy pondering isn’t something that presidents do only when they leave office. George W. was always talking about how history would judge him, and now we can see President Obama making frantic moves to seal his own legacy—especially with progressives—as his time runs out in the Oval Office.

The problem with Mr. Obama’s most recent attempts is that they are frail efforts that won’t stand up very well once he’s ridden off into the sunset.

For example, take the president’s unilateral try at stimulating immigration reform. Even the biggest supporters of his maneuver are cognizant that the president was using immigration as a shrewd political tactic. Instead of seeking some sort of bipartisan legislation that would better stand the test of time, Obama issued his executive order, daring congressional Republicans to push back.

When the GOP does retaliate against the president’s immigration order, Obama (chorused by every other Democrat) will say, “See, I fought for you my minority friends. These Republicans in Congress, however, they do not like you and they don’t want you here.”

It’s not today’s congressional Republicans that Obama and undocumented immigrants should worry about. An executive order can be tossed in the garbage by any future president.

That’s no concern of our president today, though.

All that matters is that he is now able to dedicate a chapter in his forthcoming biography to the “bold” action he’s taken on behalf of millions of Americans-in-waiting.

The recent climate agreement reached with China is another piece of feeble legacy grasping.

Sure, it must have felt good for the president to do something that would get environmental activists off his back. But, let’s be real—we’re talking about a deal with China here. To put it kindly, they don’t have the greatest track record of meeting obligations.

And, they have until 2030 to start making cuts in carbon emissions. Do the math: that’s 16 years. Two full term presidencies for crying out loud.
By that time, this agreement—or “swindle” as Charles Krauthammer calls it—will be forgotten. And if it is still being discussed, it won’t matter if China lives up to their end of the bargain. If we’ve learned anything from current Iran nuclear talks, it’s that extending deadlines is no biggie.

Furthermore, while China’s possible diplomatic backstepping is one thing that could hamstring the carbon deal, who’s to say a future American president won’t treat Obama’s climate agreement the same way he treats immigration law today?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), their special agents are given full legal authority to punish regulatory violators. That threat sounds pretty serious, but a president down the road could pull an Obama and use his or her prosecutorial discretion to let EPA carbon offenders off the hook. If China doesn’t show good faith, or if carbon emissions aren’t a concern of a future commander in chief, it will be like last month’s agreement never happened.

And let’s not forget about race. As America’s first black president, there is no way we could expect Mr. Obama to leave office without trying to put his thumbprint on race relations.

The problem here is that even the president’s most fervent apologists will admit that the standing of African Americans worsened during Obama’s presidency. Couple that reality with the nightmare in Ferguson, Missouri, and the president looks like he’ll probably have a tough time selling himself as an inequality fixer.

Well, that’s nothing another executive order can’t remedy. Just kidding. It won’t fix anything. Of all the last ditch efforts to fashion a pretty legacy, this one is the most desperate.

Here’s what Obama’s post-Ferguson directive will do, according to the AP:

Obama said he will issue an executive order that will require federal agencies that run the (military equipment-to-local police) programs to consult with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations and recommend changes within four months to make sure the programs are accountable and transparent.

Considering the possible ways the president could deal with the most polarizing racial event of his tenure, this one is nothing short of mystifying. Issuing an order for agency recommendations—really?

The great Beer Summit of 2009 was more impactful.

By all means, though, let’s throw some money at the problem while we’re at it. $263 million to be exact. That should help, because nothing will bridge the racial divide like lapel cameras and, per the AP, “more resources for police department reform”—whatever that means.

On Tuesday, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s “perplexed” by President Obama’s recent ploys. However, there’s really nothing confusing about the president’s actions since the midterm elections. After Democrats and their policies were thoroughly thumped at the ballot box, Obama is in damage control mode, scrambling to save his legacy’s face.

Obamacare might be the only notable progressive accomplishment of his time in office—and we’ll soon see what the Supreme Court has to say about that.

What do you think?

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