Obama will likely get another term
Obama's last appearance as president"His legacy will be crushed"
Dirk Müller: The last official appearance before the press of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Eight year tenure in the White House. On Friday, Donald Trump will follow, who not only calls into question Barack Obama's entire political legacy, but could simply sweep away much, very much of it in a few weeks, in months. Our topic with the political scientist and USA expert Professor Thomas Jäger from the University of Cologne. Good evening!
Thomas Jäger: Good evening, Mr. Miller.
Müller: Mr. Jäger, you also followed Barack Obama's appearance for us. We spoke to Thilo Kößler about his impressions. Let's talk about your impressions. How frustrated does Barack Obama have to be?
Hunter: He was frustrated and you could clearly see that, with a heavy heart, he is now handing over his inheritance to hands that will crush this inheritance. Only once did a little hope come through, if you will, when he said there was a new president coming with a new program. He is authorized to implement this program. But perhaps he will notice, when he becomes aware of the complexity of certain questions, that the answers are not that easy, that they may turn out a little like the way I tried to give them. That's a pretty thin hope he's voiced.
"In the United States, the anti-types were always chosen"
Müller: Has it ever happened in the recent history of the USA that an alleged turning point - it is a personal turning point, but are we talking about the content, the disputes that will follow - that an alleged turning point is so radical?
Hunter: At least in the last few decades, that has not been the case. It has been the case the last few times in the United States that the anti-types were always chosen. In other words, when Clinton left office, anti-Clinton came along with George W. Bush, and Obama also came into office as anti-Bush. He even received the Nobel Peace Prize as anti-Bush. Everyone was happy that it just wasn't the former president anymore. This is now a little different from a European point of view, but Donald Trump interprets his legitimacy differently. In the area of foreign policy in particular, he brushed off the table and said, let's see when we start all over again, whether we can conduct better negotiations, whether we can get more out of the United States, and that is for Barack Obama then, on many points, placed himself in the continuity of American foreign policy, even if he interpreted it and acted differently, quite surprisingly.
"He did not succeed in clarifying important questions"
Müller: You have just mentioned the word "political heritage". It can now be read everywhere, many are wondering how great will this legacy be, how burdened is it in advance, especially what will be left over. Will there be anything left of Barack Obama?
Hunter: It doesn't look like it and that's a kind of sadness, if you want to interpret it in that way, which he has allowed to resonate in many questions today, namely that he has not been able to clarify important questions, especially when it comes to immigration policy was able to ensure that the so-called climate generation can stay in the USA. There was only once where he said that a process has been set in motion that can no longer be revised, namely when it comes to taking the freedom to choose sexual orientation for granted in a society, but he immediately said restrictively, that is not to be attributed to me, it was a social process and we actually only made the laws for it in retrospect. Otherwise, he knows that his legacy will be pretty much ground up, and it was also noticeable at the press conference that not just what was talked about, but what was not talked about. Now you can say that he didn't get the questions, but many major events from his term in office that you would have wanted to hear again, how does he interpret it now, how does he see it in retrospect, they were not addressed at all.
"The EU did not take place with a word"
Müller: What did you miss there, what would you have thought of?
Hunter: The whole development in the Arab region. That was a big point at the beginning of his presidency, when he said that after the wars of George W. Bush we have to readjust our relationship to the Muslim world again. And a lot has happened in the eight years. Not only the Arabellion, but also Syria, something that weighed heavily on Obama's policy in the end. There was not one question, but the only one concerning the two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. What was not even mentioned, which is also interesting from a European point of view, is the EU. Not a single word did it take place, not even when he was talking about Russia and Ukraine, where the link would have been to the European Union, where an essential process of disintegration has now started even during his term of office and there are many In the United States, too, ask whether American foreign policy, which has always positively accompanied the European integration process, has not also failed to exert greater influence on the then rather divided European states in the run-up to the referendum.
Müller: Mr Jäger, I would like to stick to this complex of questions again. When you answer the question what will stay, you say that you said next to nothing or nothing at all. If so, can you say that Barack Obama failed eight years as president?
Hunter: It's hard to say because then you have to look at the political system in the USA. But I would make a restriction. One thing has remained, if Donald Trump really does, namely that it has become established that health insurance has to be offered to everyone. That may be in a different form than it is now, but that is a point.
"Obama has withdrawn on presidential directives"
Müller: What does he want to change in parts?
Hunter: What Barack Obama has changed and where even the Republicans are now saying, even if we reform Obama Care, turn back, at that point we can no longer turn, we have to see that we can find a solution. And that was a very important socio-political step. But the point is that President Obama was very sure of his positions, that he was little willing to compromise, and that after two years in office and losing a parliamentary majority and negotiating with the Republicans, he was within six years has not been able to deal with the Republicans in such a way that it solves important questions, even though the Republicans were much further on in immigration policy six years ago than they are now. There he lacked access, he lacked the ability to make compromises with his party. He has withdrawn to govern with presidential directives and is now seeing Trump simply withdrawing them and issuing others.
Müller: We rarely hear that in Europe and especially in Germany. That's why I want to stick with it again. You are always engaged, in discussion and confronted with many students and you also give lectures on the political system of the USA, historically seen, but of course also on current politics. If you only have one sentence, you would ultimately have to come to the conclusion that Barack Obama was not a good president?
Hunter: It's too easy to say that way.
"Obama was not a good political craftsman"
Müller: But what if you only have one sentence?
Hunter: If I say just one sentence, I would say he was someone who had strategic visions for the US, but not a good political craftsman.
Müller: And that will remain in retrospect?
Hunter: You don't know. The Americans are always very, very gracious with their presidents afterwards. In other words, he is already leaving office with a high approval rating, much higher than was the case with Clinton and Bush, and he will be viewed positively, without any question. This is often decoupled from what was actually achieved in that time.
Müller: The political scientist and USA expert Professor Thomas Jäger. Thank you for finding time for us here on Deutschlandfunk so late. Good night to you
Hunter: With pleasure, Mr. Müller.
Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.
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