The Obama Legacy

Edited by Bert A. Rockman and Andrew Rudalevige

“Hope” and “change” were the keywords of President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and in his farewell address on January 10, 2017, he cited the evidence that he’d delivered—from reversing the Great Recession, rebooting the auto industry, and unleashing the longest stretch of job creation in the nation’s history to winning marriage equality and securing the right to health insurance for another 20 million citizens. At the same time, and with a view to the country’s divisive polarization, he made a plea for “the decency of our people” and “the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.”

In hindsight, it is increasingly possible to understand whether and how Obama’s legacy matched his rhetoric as well as to evaluate from various angles what his presidency accomplished and what this has meant for US politics, public policy, and civic life going forward. In The Obama Legacy some of the leading observers and scholars of US politics take up this challenge. In twelve essays these writers examine Obama’s choices, operating style, and opportunities taken and missed as well as the institutional and political constraints on the president’s policy agenda. What were Obama’s personal characteristics as a leader? What were the policy aspirations, output, and strategy of his presidency? What was his role as a political and public leader to the various constituencies needed to generate presidential power? And how did his presidency interact with other political forces?

“The editors are rightly cautious about drawing conclusions, but the material they provide gives us an excellent start on evaluating the successes and failures of the Obama presidency. This book is both good and important. Highly recommended.

—Choice

“A thoughtful and sweeping examination of a historic presidency. Bert A. Rockman and Andrew Rudalevige recruited the nation’s preeminent presidency scholars to contribute to this remarkable collection of essays. These insightful essays will set the parameters of the debate over the Obama presidency for years to come. This is a must read for all of those interested in the Obama years—and for those grappling with the rise of Donald J. Trump.”

—Stephen F. Knott, author of Rush to Judgment: George W. Bush, The War on Terror, and His Critics

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Addressing these questions and others, the authors analyze Obama’s preferences, tactics, successes, and shortcomings with an eye toward balancing the personal and institutional factors that underlie each—all the while considering how resilient or fragile Obama’s legacy will be in the face of the Trump administration’s eager efforts to dismantle it.

About the Author

Bert A. Rockman is professor emeritus of political science at Purdue University and visiting scholar in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of, among numerous volumes, The Leadership Question, recipient of the Richard E. Neustadt Award.

##Andrew Rudalevige is Thomas Brackett Reed Professor of Government at Bowdoin College. His many books include The New Imperial Presidency: Renewing Presidential Power after Watergate.

Additional Titles in the Presidential Appraisals and Legacies Series