The Presidency of Barack Obama: a First Historical Assessment

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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This content aims to critically review the book “The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment,” by Julian E. Zelizer. He is a CNN political analyst based in the department of History and Public Affairs in Princeton University. Zelizer has authored a variety of books that have significant information on the occurrences and explanations of events in the United States. Zelizer also appears regularly as a news commentator on various platforms such as radio, television, and print. The book that the paper purposes to discuss emphasizes on account of Obama as the first African American president and the years he served with a comparison from criteria of other leading political historians.

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Further, the primary intention of Zelizer is to call upon some of the distinguished rosters of people that are remarkable in history to evaluate the era of Obama’s presidency.

There was a high expectation when Obama was selected as the president and people considered him to leave the office having made a significant change and progress. Remarkably, he is widely remembered for the enactment of the Obamacare, a bill that was aimed to aid millions of individuals with their medical expenses by acting as medical insurance.  The legislative achievement is the primary aspect that Obama can be remembered as having contributed to the country’s history. The book highlights the presidential election of Donald Trump as the president and his effort during the first term of the presidency to irreversibly damage the Obamacare. Moreover, it further extends to question and investigate the gulf that exists between Obama and Trump that needs more explanations from concrete evidence. Besides, it is evident that the book would have a different story had Hilary Clinton won the presidential elections.

With the help from various historians’ contributions, the book purposes to offer clear and valid assessments of the key issues, which shaped the years that Obama was in office. The primary ones include race, healthcare, drugs, violence, economic calamity, Iraq and Afghanistan, gay rights, and the entry of individuals into the country.  Additionally, there is focus on education and policies that need to be enacted in the urban settlement areas. Obama is considered to have embraced the Democrats, leading to a paradox in his leadership. Zelizer argues that the former president was a policymaker who was efficient in performing his duties. Still, he was not a successful party builder that would contribute to strengthening the congregation. Instead, he did less that would manage the Democrats to be strong and united. The evidence provided to the claims is the presidential loss of Hillary Clinton who was the party’s candidate. Therefore, Obama had shortcomings that were evident despite his reelection and strong endorsement ratings towards the end of his term. Additionally, the Democrats lost legislative seats estimated to be around one thousand, figures that were high and have never been marked by any other president in the contemporary history of the United States.

Although Obama had numerous shortcomings, in the book, Zelizer occasionally creates excuses for him. In the first chapter, the author mentions that Obama would go out to play golf with John Boehner, who was the Speaker of the House then.

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The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment. (2019, Aug 06). Retrieved from