George Mason University’s History News Network (HNN) recently asked a few hundred American historians to give President Barack Obama letter grades in 15 different categories.
Just over 200 historians responded to the email survey. Now the grades are averaged and tabulated: Obama gets a mediocre B-.
Many participating academics included comments to explain their grades (a practice HNN encouraged). Based on those comments, the general scholarly consensus is that Obama just hasn’t moved the country far enough to the left.
Sure, there have been the two Supreme Court appointments. The surveyed historians loved the choice of Elena Kagan and were positively effusive over the choice of Sonia Sotomayor.
The scholars also applauded the assassination of Osama Bin Laden and credited Obama with ending the Iraq War.
Historians also roundly praised Obama for his role in passing the Affordable Care Act. At the same time. however, many also lamented the modesty of the law and complained that Obamacare should have gone farther to overhaul the American healthcare system.
Other criticism centered on Obama’s failure to fulfill his much-ballyhooed promise to shutter Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. military’s heavy reliance on drone strikes was another cause for concern.
The professors also condemned Obama for his management of the economy. HNN did not specify exactly which policies they don’t like or would change.
The president also came in for disapproval over his relationship with Congress. However, most respondents who commented in this regard placed the blame for gridlock squarely on those dastardly Republicans.
Still other areas of concern among the surveyed scholars are the prosecution of Bradley Chelsea Manning and the Obama administration’s general lack of transparency.
(The survey was largely complete before Edward Snowden leaked details of several top-secret programs and fled to Russia.)
The 203 American history professors gave Obama an A- for both “communication ability” and “Supreme Court appointments.” The 44th president got a B for “diplomacy and foreign policy” but just a B- for “national security and wartime leadership.” He got another a B- for “handling economy.” For “transparency and accountability,” he received a C+.
Obama’s lowest grade was a C for “relationship with Congress.”
Half of the professors who responded to the HNN survey are affiliated with public colleges and universities. Some 12 percent are highfalutin Ivy League academics. Three percent are employed by the service academies.