Presidents compared to past politics

The New York Times’ Michael Shear wrote an interesting piece Nov. 14 on how President Barack Obama’s second term in office might be starting to look like George W. Bush’s second term.

From a neutral perspective, the comparisons are intriguing.

For instance, Bush dealt with a massive backlash from what many considered a “botched” response to Hurricane Katrina from his administration, as well as the unpopular war in Iraq.

Now Obama’s dealing with a backlash arguably just as vocal after the messy rollout of not only the health care exchange websites, but also his unfulfilled promise of letting Americans keep their insurance if they liked it.

Keep in mind that only 5 percent of Americans originally had to switch to plans meeting Obamacare’s coverage standards, according to the New York Times’ wonderful graphics. However, that 5 percent still comprises 10-15 million people.

That’s a huge chunk of the population, and Obama knows it. That’s why I think he apologized to the country on NBC last week. That’s why he’s now trying to change the law to give them a reprieve and let them keep their plans.

But will it all be worth it in the end? What are the implications for Democrats heading into the 2014 congressional elections?

And will Obama win back the trust of the country? For the first time since being elected, a majority of Americans no longer trust him, according to two polls.

Leading Democrats and administration members are still hopeful. They reject this comparison. Plenty of Republicans, on the other hand, are more than happy to shove it in their faces and use it as more partisan fodder.

No matter what, however, it’s clear that senior White House officials are concerned. They should be. Emotional, spur-of-the-moment public reactions like this often determine political fate. It’s a sad reality when most of us aren’t informed on the news, but it’s still reality.

Presidents leave behind a legacy when they exit office. In the far-off future, Bush and Obama will be in our history books. We’ll likely study their political characteristics just as intently as those of Nixon, Reagan, LBJ, and FDR.

But what will your legacy be after you die?

Will you be known for thinking more about others and less about yourself? Will you smile as the end draws near, knowing you made a positive difference?

It turns out this comparison is more about us than politics in Washington. Rather than throw up our hands in horror and pessimism, we should be striving to make our own mark on the world, hoping our efforts will sort everything else out.

Max Milander / For the Review