Every president leaves a legacy whether it is intentional or not. Our first president, George Washington, left us the legacy of a lifetime of selfless service, of one who eschewed power in favor of preserving the Republic for which he personally sacrificed so much. When he left the Presidency, Americans lined the roadsides to cheer him as he rode home one final time. Most presidents have a captivating moment or issue in which they rise to the occasion and leave a lasting legacy for the benefit of the nation. I can’t say that about President Obama. More than any single individual, President Obama used his power and prestige of office to the detriment of the national interest. He has left us more divided, quite literally at war with each other, despairing of hope in some quarters and weaker, both domestically and internationally than virtually any other president that I can recall.

Somewhat striking is his attitude in departure, determined to inflict as much damage on America’s national interests as he can while boasting of a scandal-free administration, claiming to have made us stronger and more respected in the world than at any time in our history. Such self-delusion convinces me more than ever that the sycophants that surrounded him during his two terms of office have done irreparable harm to the nation and likely to the man they served. No doubt he bears responsibility for the choices of those who served him most closely but never have I observed a president so detached from the reality of the legacy of his time in office.

Starting with his fiscal irresponsibility, the Obama presidency doubled the national debt from 10 trillion to nearly 20 trillion, more debt than all the previous presidencies of our nation combined since its founding 241 years ago. President Bush had the “9-11” attack and a financial collapse to account for some of his massive spending; President Obama used the financial crisis to pay off union supporters and favored States. Virtually none of the massive spending he initiated found its way into programs to benefit the national economy. During his term more people dropped out of the labor force than at any time in our history and haven’t returned, just as we now have more people on welfare than any time before.

President Obama pursued policies that severely degraded our national defense with our nuclear deterrent forces reaching critical obsolescence; experts now state our nuclear weapons are of questionable reliability and survivability after eight years of deliberate underfunding along with prohibitions on quality assurance testing. This occurred even as Putin’s Russia embarked upon a massive nuclear modernization and rearmament program and adopted an “early first use nuclear doctrine” that included use of nuclear weapons to stave off defeat in a conventional conflict. Obama sabotaged our ability to defend against a nuclear threat, cutting strategic defenses as North Korea develops intercontinental missiles with nuclear warheads. Our ability to protect ourselves from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from solar flares or nuclear attack was crippled by Obama’s new regulations limiting our options this week. An EMP over the USA would obliterate our electrical grid and kill 90% of the American populace within a year; you’d never know it happened until it was over.

President Obama claimed to have a “scandal-free” administration: That only occurred if the Justice Department didn’t run guns to Mexican drug cartels in the criminally negligent “Operation Fast and Furious,” resulting in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent, which the Justice Department then covered up. The Attorney General was cited for Contempt of Congress, which he and the President ignored. “Scandal-free” only occurred if the IRS didn’t harass Americans engaging in legitimate, constitutionally protected political activity. The IRS then refused to answer questions from Congress and destroyed evidence. It was scandal free if an American ambassador wasn’t slaughtered in Benghazi, Libya and it was revealed he pleaded for more security for months prior, to no avail. No scandal occurred unless his Secretary of State massively violated national security protocols by setting up an unauthorized, illegal, private, unsecure e-mail system that compromised thousands of Department of State communications. President Obama lauded a deserter as a hero, trading five hardened terrorist commanders for a soldier who abandoned his comrades; Obama denied American soldiers military benefits for years after they were wounded and murdered by a Muslim terrorist at Fort Hood, revoked asylum recognition for Cuban refugees fleeing tyranny while threatening to return them to face imprisonment or death, and commuted the 45-year prison sentence of a soldier convicted of espionage and aiding the enemy in time of war, a capital offense, to just the seven years he served. Dozens of Afghans aiding American soldiers were executed by the Taliban because of the treason of Pvt. Bradley (Chelsea) Manning; Americans died as well. Interestingly, Obama refused to pardon Jonathan Pollard, serving over 30 years of his life sentence for espionage; Pollard, who is Jewish, gave secrets to the Israelis, an American ally. Nobody died.

President Obama’s worst offense, however, was leaving us divided. As the first Black President, he could have called for unity and reconciliation. Instead, he petulantly used his office and his pulpit to scold and vilify his opponents, dividing us along lines of race and class. For that more than any other offense, President Obama’s legacy is a stain on the office he occupied.

Al Fonzi, Atascadero News Article 20 January 2017