November 2016.

What was Obama’s greatest success?

1 answer

I think there’s a real success in terms of stabilising the economy. But how do you distil that in an America where there’s lots of people who are still feeling like they haven’t benefited from the recovery? I think there is a lot to be said for getting some kind of healthcare package through, but that healthcare package is still imperfect to say the least, and there are real issues regarding cost and coverage that will have to be dealt with.

"If there is one success, it's in providing an alternative vision for America"

Same-sex marriage is going to be a major, major change. It’s one that Obama can’t directly claim credit for, but it’s the kind of thing that happens when you change a culture. He provided that opening for hope, and for America to confront the need to fulfil its values.

So if there is one success, it goes all the way back to 2009, which is providing an alternative vision for America, and of America as it wants to be seen. I remember in January 2009, watching the inaugural speech – that whole day, actually – and thinking ‘I can’t believe I’m seeing this, I never thought I would see this’. I grew up in Alabama, and the idea that an African-American would become president, and would be hailed as such by – what? – a million and a half people in The Mall in Washington DC, and would provide such a contrast to the preceding administration, in terms of presenting hope, rather than fear. . . that was huge.