... Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn't deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. [...] This is what a successful presidency looks like. No president gets to do everything his supporters expected him to. FDR left behind a reformed nation, but one in which the wealthy retained a lot of power and privilege. On the other side, for all his anti-government rhetoric, Reagan left the core institutions of the New Deal and the Great Society in place. I don't care about the fact that Obama hasn't lived up to the golden dreams of 2008, and I care even less about his approval rating. I do care that he has, when all is said and done, achieved a lot. That is, as Joe Biden didn't quite say, a big deal.
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President Obama has made many economic mistakes during his presidency.... But it's also true that the U.S. economy is in far better shape than the rest of the developed world. Growth is stronger and unemployment is lower. As Krugman explains in the current issue of Rolling Stone, the U.S. recovery has even slightly outpaced the historical average for a recovery after a severe financial crisis. And this is despite the reckless, destructive behavior of the Republicans. The recovery still has a long way to go, of course. And given Congressional gridlock, Obama has little control over the economy right now. Whether or not American workers finally feel like the recession is over and see their wages rise is in the (capable) hands of the Federal Reserve. But given what Obama can control, his economic policies have done a pretty good job in the aftermath of the Great Recession, even if it's impossible to convey that in a speech.