Presidential Legacies

obama_hope_lgThe first candidate for Barack Obama’s job – Ted Cruz – has thrown his hat into the ring.  Many more will follow, begging the question: Is it time for Obama to start thinking about his legacy?

Little point in that, Julian Zelizer says.  Obama’s successor will define his legacy, at least to some extent, which is why, he should be rooting for Hilary.  Eisenshower’s decision not to roll back FDR/Truman’s New Deal programs copper fastened the social welfare state.  The same decision by Nixon to keep LBJ’s Great Society reforms has maintained those reforms.

In addition, scholars will pour over documents released over time, producing transformational accounts of Obama’s presidency.  Motion pictures, artwork, memorials, and other popular cultural constructs will equally contribute.

The point being, while some aspects of legacy are within the control of a living former president – see the stories about Obama’s presidential library, or Anthony Clark’s book The Last Campaign – much more is left to succeeding generations. For example, how would the second African-American president invoke Obama?

What else makes a presidential legacy?


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