As if to shore up his legacy, President Obama, over the remaining days of his tenure, has made some memorable moves, many of which could have come earlier according to some of his supporters.
Of course, the bulk of his good intentions, as the world knows, were stifled by an intransigent Republican Congress that is now poised—along with Trump and his minions—to demolish his relative gains.
The president, issuing a number of executive orders, seems bent on making them work overtime on their destructive ends. Last week, he established two monuments out west in Utah with an edict to preserve 1.35 million acres of land and 300,000 acres on the perimeter of Las Vegas. Each endeavor was applauded by Native Americans and conservationists.
Almost simultaneously with the monuments, he was banning oil drilling on the Atlantic coast. He had already ensured the protection of funding for Planned Parenthood and set in motion the transfer of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. When he refused to veto the U.N. security resolution condemning expansion of settlements in Israel and when he chastised Russia for interfering in the presidential election, he demonstrated his global punch.
With a little more than two weeks before Trump is sworn in, Obama is going out the door with a bang, and there is speculation that he may commute the sentences of more prisoners serving time for nonviolent crimes. He could pardon the thousands of immigrants who face deportation, reaffirm the normalization process with Cuba and rescind all steps to muffle whistleblowers and the Patriot Act. And it wouldn’t hurt for him to reiterate his nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, for the Supreme Court.
Black Americans would love to see him go beyond the apology for slavery and say something constructive about reparations as well as posthumously pardon Marcus Garvey. These latter two wishes are not and have not been on his agenda, so it would be truly amazing if there’s any action in this direction.
Obama is placing a number of obstacles in the transition path, and there’s a good chance that some of them will be ignored while his detractors busy themselves with the dismantling of Obamacare.
It’s simply ironic and distressing that a president who rescued the nation from economic depression, saved the automobile industry and left the nation with an uptick in employment can be so unceremoniously dismissed by so many Americans.
But in time, as Fidel said of his legacy, Obama may be absolved.