Was Obama a Transformative President? Professor Robert Smith Discusses

Friday, January 20, 2017
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR -- When asked to assess Obama’s legacy as the first black president, African American scholar Robert C. Smith strikes the tone of a realist: “I would say Obama did the best he could on race, given the resources at his disposal, the political climate, public opinion and Congress.” Professor Smith, a political scientist at San Francisco State University, points to Obama’s use of executive orders to make “modest advancements” in affirmative action in the federal bureaucracy and in higher education, as well as criminal justice and on housing desegregation. In addition, he notes, the Affordable Care Act disproportionately benefited black people — a not-insignificant result of the law. But Obama was rhetorically reticent. “To the extent his policies had any kind of racial bias or favoritism, I don’t think he wished to emphasize that,” Smith says.