Name of book: AUDACITY How Barrack Obama defied his critics and created a legacy that will prevail
Author: Jonathan Chait
Published by: HarperCollins Publishers
No. of pages: 240
Jonathan Chait the author of ‘AUDACITY’ admits to researching this book all through the eight years of the Obama administration. He systematically kept track of the sweeping agenda of reform that Obama revealed to joint session of Congress, a mere thirty four days into his presidency. Published in 2017, barely two weeks before Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States of America, AUDACITY is drenched in authenticity.
The book makes the case, that given the extent to which Obama succeeded, the proposition that Trump will manage to overturn the achievements, is overstated. This view has proved to be prescient, following the failure of Trump to repeal Obamacare and this turn of events, will almost certainly serve to open up Obama’s record to greater scrutiny. Chait states, that this is where Obama’s supporters win the argument.
But first an update on what conservative thinking is all about. This is what Breitbart had to say in 2015 about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. “Five years ago today, The Guardian was celebrating one of the most glorious moments in left wing history since the erection of the Berlin Wall. I refer of course, to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – a tragedy which The Guardian and the rest of the left liberal media milked so hard…” “For The Guardian (and the BBC, and The New York Times, and CBS News and CNN and all their ideological soul mates) the BP oil spill was as Princess Diana was to the Daily Mail….” : There is nothing that Greens love more than a nice juicy oil spill….”
On April 20, 2010 gas, oil and concrete from the Deepwater Horizon exploded up the well bore onto the deck and then caught fire. The explosion killed 11 platform workers, injured 17 others; another 98 people survive without physical injury. A total of 4.9 million barrels of oil were dropped into the Gulf of Mexico, between April 20 and September 19 2010. President Obama called it the worst environmental disaster in history.
This divergence of views is what defines American politics today. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened barely a month after Obamacare was enacted into law. This piece of legislation was a signature achievement of Obamas administration and as we have seen, it has withstood the first challenge to its enactment. In my view ‘AUDACITY’ is a timely, assertive and relentlessly argued book. To be sure this was a book written largely before the November election. After Trump shocked the world with his improbable Electoral College victory, Chait must have tweaked the text to address the upheaval in American politics. But he did not change the fundamental conclusion or buy into the notion, that Clinton’s defeat represented a harsh verdict on Obama who “accomplished nearly everything he set out to do…”
Obama’s programs have already reshaped the economy, healthcare, energy, finance and education in quantifiable ways. There have been 75 straight months of job growth, a 4.7% unemployment rate, an increase of 9.79% in the incomes of the lowest 10th American households, the lowest rate of uninsured Americans and the most serious reforms of the financial sector through Dodd-Frank. Chait thinks the Trump administration will follow the usual Republican pattern of failing to enforce regulatory laws like Dodd-Frank. He doesn’t think Dodd-Frank is likely to be repealed – and therefore will remain on the books to be enforced by a future Democrat president.
Initiatives now recognized as great successes, like the rescue of the auto industry were portrayed by right wing analysts like Andrew Grossman of the Heritage Foundation as a “microcosm of the lawlessness that threatens our freedom and our prosperity.” Chait also recalls the extremist and relentless racial attacks on Obama by the Republicans like Newt Gingrich who said “what if (Obama) is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together (his actions)?”
Chait counters such offensive nonsense, writing that rather than treating the Civil Rights Movement “as a thing apart, Obama placed it at Americas historical center, weaving black Americas story and the larger American narrative into an inseparable fabric…” In his speech in Selma in 2015 Obama portrayed “the struggle for black freedom is not merely a part of the American story but as its epitome.” Consider then, if Obama had allowed himself “to be cast as a Civil Rights leader,” he would have forfeited his ability “to be leader of all America.”
Internationally, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in his first year and was the president who killed Osama Bin Laden, struck the Iran nuclear deal and led a surprise rapprochement with Cuba. Then there are the questions of the temperament, personality and how that can translate into soft power. “Poise”, “panache” and “dignity” are words commonly used about Obama. “Narcissist” and “vulgarism” have been applied to Trump. In this most polarized of countries, Trumps friends and foes can agree on one thing; two men more unlike each other are hard to imagine.
Chait’s is an unassailable report. In the eyes of history, Barrack Obama will be viewed as one of America’s best and most accomplished presidents. Chait is a political journalist with New York Magazine and AUDACITY is a must read by anyone who appreciates good writing, everyone even half way interested in American politics and fans of Barrack Obama.