I would like to commend a Point/Counter-Point style pair of articles at New York Magazine to your attention. In his article, “History Will Be Very Kind”, Jonathan Chair defends the president’s legacy:
It is my view that history will be very generous with Barack Obama, who has compiled a broad record of accomplishment through three-quarters of his presidency. But if it isn’t, it will be for a highly ironic reason: Our historical memory tends to romance, too. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fatherly reassurance, a youthful Kennedy tossing footballs on the White House lawn, Reagan on horseback—the craving for emotional sustenance and satisfying drama runs deep. Though the parade of Obama’s Katrinas will all be (and mostly already have been) consigned to the forgotten afterlife of cable-news ephemera, it is not yet certain whether this president can bind his achievements into any heroic narrative.
while in his article, “Why History Will Eviscerate Him”, Christopher Caldwell declaims:
Obama’s legacy is one of means, not ends. He has laid the groundwork for a political order less answerable to voters. His delay of the Obamacare employer mandate by fiat, his provision of working papers to immigrants by executive order—these are not applications of old tricks but dangerous constitutional innovations. After last fall’s electoral rout, the president claimed to have “heard” (presumably to speak on behalf of) the two-thirds of people who didn’t vote. And he has forged a partnership with the country’s rich—not the high-earning professionals calumniated in populist oratory (including his own) but the really existing Silicon Valley and Wall Street plutocracy.
I think the truth will be somewhere in between. Like Kennedy, for the next generation or so President Obama will be lionized by historians but as the glamor fades, a century or more in the future, I think he will be a footnote, noted as the first African American president but for little else. By then his signature domestic achievement, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will either have been abandoned or transformed beyond recognition and be seen as a wan precursor of the system then in place.
Depending on your views that is either treating the president kindly or, in a president who has patently had his eye on his legacy since the moment of his election to office, eviscerate him. So I guess they’re both right.