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    Posted April 30, 2012 by
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    Ph.D. History Student Lauds Obama Legacy


    Many  on the Republican side of the aisle claim that President Barack Obama  is using "divide and conquer", pitting Amercans against each other to  win re-election this fall because he cannot run on his record.

    However,  Matthew Rozsa, a history student seeking his Ph.D. from Lehigh  University, sees things differently. Rozsa even compares the Presidentto  those years of Camelot when President John F. Kennedy occupied the  White House.

    In an opinion piece published in The Morning Call, Rozsa highlighted what he says are achievements that should flush out the President's legacy.

    I contacted Rozsa who agreed to allow me to share his thoughts on the Obama Presidency.

    Here is a look at some of Obama's most important achievements, nearly 1,200 days into this presidency:

    •Foreign  policy. Per one of the central promises of his 2008 presidential  campaign, he ended the war in Iraq, with the last U.S. troops being  withdrawn in December 2011. He also presided over the tough decisions  that led to the assassination of Osama bin Laden, thus helping bring  closure to the emotional wounds of the Sept. 11 attacks. Finally, Obama  underwent concerted diplomatic efforts to repair relations with nations  that had grown alienated from America by George W. Bush's foreign  policies, particularly with his concerted outreach to the Muslim world  as spelled out in his "New Beginning" speech at Cairo University. Only  the lingering war in Afghanistan exists as a major tarnish on his  foreign policy achievements.

    •Domestic policy. Even if the  Supreme Court overturns Obama's health care reform law, he still will  have amassed an impressive legislative record, including civil rights  measures (the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell  Repeal Act), significant financial regulatory reforms (the Fraud  Enforcement and Recovery Act, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer  Protection Act), consumers rights bills (the Credit CARD Act, the Food  Safety Modernization Act), and economic relief initiatives for those  struck hardest by the recession (the Helping Families Save their Homes  Act, the Small Business Jobs Act).

    •The economy. Obama stopped  the Great Recession from deteriorating into a second Great Depression.  Although the first nine months of the Great Recession saw only a gradual  climb in unemployment (from just under 5 percent in the last  pre-recession month, November 2007, to slightly more than 6 percent in  August 2008), the Wall Street meltdown of September 2008 caused it to  spiral out of control. Unemployment rose at a dangerous average rate of  almost 0.4 percent per month from the time of the crash to May 2009.  Once Obama's stimulus bill began taking effect, however, the jobless  rate stabilized; after doubling to 9.4 percent in the year and a half  since November 2007, it remained at or under 10 percent for the next 18  months. Since then it has declined, in large part due to a second  stimulus Obama appended to the Bush tax cut extensions, with  unemployment ranging from 8.5 percent to 9.1 percent throughout 2011  before falling to a low of 8.2 percent in March.

    Overall, the  president whose legacy Obama's is most likely to resemble is the same  one with whom he was so often compared only a few years ago — John F.  Kennedy.

    Some of the reasons for this are obvious: Like Obama,  Kennedy broke long-standing barriers of prejudice by virtue of his  election (Kennedy for Catholics, Obama for African-Americans) and  developed a public image as a charismatic, eloquent and scholarly  idealist. Just as important, however, Kennedy also racked up a number of  important accomplishments during his tenure, including creating the  Peace Corps, signing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, launching the race to  the moon, navigating America through the Cuban Missile Crisis, and using  federal troops to help integrate the South.

    Inevitably, both  presidents also saw their mystiques fade during their administrations,  thanks to their own blunders (Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs, Obama and the  BP oil spill), the disappointment of liberals unhappy with compromises  (Kennedy on civil rights, Obama on health care reform), and the venom of  right-wingers who not only accused them of being socialists and/or  communists but also popularized conspiracy theories fueled by prevalent  prejudices, such as claiming Kennedy was taking orders from the Vatican  or that Obama wasn't born in this country.

    Like all parallels  between history and the present, the Kennedy-Obama analogy isn't  perfect, given the different circumstances in which they governed. In  the end, though, Kennedy is still remembered for the barriers he broke  and the way his policies helped America, and likely would still be  recalled that way even if he had been defeated for re-election in 1964.  Regardless of what happens to Obama in 2012 — at the Supreme Court or  the ballot box — the same will almost certainly be true for him.

    Does Rozsa present a case that will resonate with voters in November?

    Does Rozsa rightly state the case in comparing Obama to Kennedy?

    From the Cornfield, it is always in the nation's interest to see and read both sides of an argument.

    While Republicans say there is no record, Rozsa sees a substantial record.

    Does Rozsa validate his position?

    Why then is the President not running on the points listed by Rozsa?

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