Synopses & Reviews
The record of any American President attracts attention, but Barack Obama, the first African-American president in the nation's 240-year history, is of special interest. Obama came into office as the economy was careening into the worst downturn since the Great Depression. On the political front, he would be challenged by the intense congressional polarization faced by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, exacerbated by the rise of the Tea Party movement. In this comprehensive assessment of domestic policymaking, John D. Graham considers what we may learn from the Obama presidency about how presidents can best implement their agendas when Congress is evenly divided. What did Obama pledge to do in domestic policy and what did he actually accomplish? Why did some initiatives succeed and others fail? Did Obama's policies contribute to the losses experienced by the Democratic Party in 2010 and 2014? In carefully documented case studies of economic policy, health care reform, energy and environmental policy, and immigration reform, Graham asks whether Obama was effective at accomplishing his agenda. Counterfactuals are analyzed to suggest ways that Obama might have been even more effective than he was and at less political cost to his party. This book builds on Graham's well-received analysis in Bush on the Home Front, elaborating and applying a theory of presidential effectiveness in a polarized political environment.