By MICHAEL BARBARO
In the waning days of his presidency, Barack Obama is waging a final battle — not over legislation or a Supreme Court seat, but over how he will be remembered. In the latest episode of The Run-Up, we explore what, exactly, the Obama legacy will be.
The president is aggressively telling his version, through a major speech broadcast on prime-time TV, interviews and a forthcoming book. But President-elect Donald J. Trump is telling a very different version, through tweets, speeches and news conferences.
Who’s will win out? I speak with David Leonhardt, an op-ed columnist at The New York Times who chronicled the Obama administration from the start, and Jodi Kantor, a reporter whose book, “The Obamas,” was just reissued with a new preface.
Our wide-ranging conversation explores Mr. Obama’s impact on race, health care, economic inequality and America’s place in the world. And we seek to answer a question historians may puzzle over for decades: Just how consequential was this presidency compared with past White Houses?
I speak as well to former Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts about whether Mr. Obama’s relationship with Republican lawmakers had to be so adversarial, polarizing and partisan. Who was to blame? Could Mr. Obama have done more to get things done using executive orders?
Mr. Frank is blunt. “Absolutely not,” he says. “You had a Republican majority in both houses that (A) was determined to undercut him politically and (B) did not care if the government was dysfunctional because they don’t like government anyway. And to the extent, by the way, that a failure for the government to perform discredited government, that was a further benefit as far as they’re concerned.”
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