Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Washington Times stood out with its coverage of Barack Obama, reporting extensively on his meteoric rise from community organizer and state senator in Illinois to the 44th president of the United States.

Mr. Obama, whose associations as a young man in Chicago with left-wing radicals such as Bill Ayers and controversial figures such as Rev. Jeremiah Wright would later become political liabilities, based his presidential ambitions on his opposition to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. His strong stance against the conflict would prove a winning issue for the Illinois senator in his triumph over Hillary Clinton, who had voted in favor of the invasion, in the party primary.

The financial collapse during the tail end of the Bush administration also gave Mr. Obama a leg up in the general election as voters turned against the GOP and looked to Democrats to pull the economy out of a tailspin.

Mr. Obama won the presidency convincingly in November 2008, becoming the nation’s first black president after besting Republican Sen. John McCain in a campaign that saw him attract record crowds for political rallies and become perhaps the nation’s first true celebrity candidate, even traveling to Europe to deliver a high-profile speech. The Times covered that campaign relentlessly, even being kicked off of Mr. Obama’s plane during the home stretch of the election after a Times editorial endorsing Mr. McCain.

After his win, Mr. Obama brought with him to Washington a Democratic Congress, including a filibuster-proof Senate. They quickly delivered a massive $787 billion recovery package with just a handful of Republican votes.

Mr. Obama also made repairing U.S. relations with the global community, which he said were badly damaged by the Iraq War, a top goal. The world responded by giving him a Nobel Peace Prize just months after his election.

But as time wore on, Mr. Obama’s administration would be bogged down by a sluggish economic recovery and foreign policy missteps that led to the rise of the Islamic State and allowed a bloody civil war in Syria to claim thousands of lives.

Perhaps the most notable political legacy of Mr. Obama’s tenure is the health-care reform law that bears his name. The Times covered the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — from its early deliberations on Capitol Hill, through an ugly party-line vote in 2010, to a botched rollout in 2013 that proved to be perhaps the president’s greatest embarrassment. The Times has continued covering the fallout of the law, which continues to this day, including two landmark Supreme Court cases that upheld the constitutionality of the program.

The contentious health-care battle also gave rise to the tea party movement that upended Democratic control of Congress in the 2010 midterms, delivered Republican majorities, and sewed the seeds for the political rise of Donald Trump.

In Mr. Obama’s first term, the Times also repeatedly broke stories on: The “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal that put Attorney General Eric Holder in the crosshairs; Mr. Obama’s failure to institute a tax on carbon emissions; and the bankruptcies of Obama-backed companies such as Solyndra that had taken hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars only to go belly up.

In May 2012, Mr. Obama publicly came out in favor of same-sex marriage in a culturally defining moment for his presidency.

In November of that year, two months after four Americans were killed at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, he won re-election over Republican Mitt Romney.

Throughout his tenure, Mr. Obama sometimes was forced to play the role of “comforter in chief,” often in the wake of mass shootings. The Times provided detailed coverage of each instance, including in-depth, on-the-ground coverage of the president’s visit to Newtown, Connecticut, following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in late 2012.

Mr. Obama, who had failed to build true relationships with Republican leaders during his first term, defined his final four years in office by executive action.

On immigration, the Times was consistently at the forefront of Mr. Obama’s proposals to grant legal status to young illegal immigrants, or Dreamers, along with the administration’s highly selective enforcement of deportation laws and other examples of executive power on the hot-button issue.

On other issues throughout his second term, from gun control to climate change to workplace regulations, Mr. Obama bragged of using his “pen and phone” to achieve things with no help from Congress.

The president also secured a landmark deal in Paris in 2015 to curb global greenhouse gas emissions, his most notable achievement on the environment. That same year, the U.S. and its allies signed an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Both stories were covered extensively in The Times.

Also in 2015, Mr. Obama ended decades of U.S. policy by formally reopening traditional diplomatic relations with Cuba. He later visited the island.

Amid those seeming foreign policy successes, however, were blunders. Mr. Obama infamously drew a “red line” with Syrian President Bashar Assad over the use of chemical weapons, but failed to enforce it, and the country’s civil war dragged on.

In the summer of 2013, Mr. Obama launched airstrikes against the Islamic State, which had made massive gains in both Iraq and Syria. The air campaign continued for the remainder of his presidency, and the failure to contain the radical Islamic group became yet another major talking point for Mr. Trump’s 2016 run.

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