These are time capsules of what I thought of the President's performance at the end of their term, usually written the day before the leave office.
What I think of Obama's presidency;? It kind of boils down to:
+ He was a surprisingly good administrator, probably in the top tier of presidents.
- He was extremely poor on the protection of civil liberties, probably in the lowest tier of presidents outside of wartime.
+ He recognized the magnitude of the threat of climate change, and expended a significant amount of effort pursing policy changes and international cooperation on the issue.
- He was a poor legislative broker. Granted, he faced unprecedented opposition... but you don't get points for failing.
Without getting distracted by the aesthetic of Trump, I would say that:
- He was extremely incompetent at administrating the executive branch, and was historically bad at hiring good people (preferring loyalty over competence or character). In this aspect, he was among the very lowest tier of presidents, arguably the worst of all time.
- He was extremely corrupt and took every opportunity to use government action to enrich himself and his friends. In this aspect, he was among the lower tier of presidents.
- He deferred to the Republican leadership on almost all policy issues. I personally think that Republican policy ideas are quite bad, and so I count this as a negative. If you like Republican policies, then you likely see this as a positive.
- He severely diminished American soft power worldwide. There's an argument to be made that this is good for humanity overall, as America often hurts more than it helps overseas. I personally think this is quite a bad thing, given that actors more malicious than us will fill the power vacuum. In this aspect, he was among the very lowest tier of presidents, arguably the worst of all time. For got or bad, I think this will be his defining legacy.
If I have to give him a positive somewhere, for the sake of context, I guess I would say:
+ He did not commit the country to any large scale wars, despite political pressure from his party to escalate a conflict with Iran and Syria. You would think this would be a low bar, but a number of modern presidents fail to clear it.
+ He committed real political capital towards keynsen economic stimulus throughout his presidency, and that policy was effective and did not lead to significant inflation. Another low bar, but it is amusing how many presidents not only fail to clear it, but actively avoid it.