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Opinion: Why Obama's reforms were doomed from the beginning

November 19, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

The leader of the free world has power to affect many lives for better or worse, but he has comparatively little ability to reform decaying institutions or curb harmful behaviors without cooperation from lawmakers and fuller participation from citizens, writes historian Jeremi Suri of President Barack Obama's memoir, "A Promised Land."

(CNN)Reading former President Barack Obama's sad and hopeful memoir, one can feel his passionate love for the United States: "The pride in being American, the notion that America was the greatest country on earth -- that was always a given. " America is a place for Obama but also a "promise" of a more perfect union, with rights and dignity for all.

Obama ran an exciting campaign on restoring equity and opportunity to Americans, but he spent most of his difficult presidency holding off one disaster after another.

Obama laments that he was criticized by foreign policy hawks for questioning firm anti-terrorist measures and condemned by civil liberties activists for continuing to circumvent American law.

Obama's memoir exposes how hard it is for a reform-minded President to get anything done.

Time and again, Obama expresses exasperation in his memoir, as he did at the time, about the difficulty of getting elected officials to focus on what matters for the future of the country, rather than the distractions and lies promoted for political purposes.

Obama explains that the Republicans took a dangerous step further to fight a self-declared war on a Black President they just could not accept.

Obama does not target Trump alone; he sees a wider group of Republican enablers, determined to undermine his presidency at all costs: "There wasn't much difference between Trump and [House Speaker John] Boehner or [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell.

The book's foreign policy chapters expose Obama's own uncertainty about how best to pursue American national interests abroad, but they also show little help from across the aisle.

Obama remembers: "All of us in the White House could feel a palpable shift in the country's mood. . . For the first and only time in my presidency, we didn't have to sell what we'd done.

Obama offers a compelling account of his own sincere service to improve the American nation that he loves.

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