Will Obama Be Remembered as Great?

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“Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” As playwright and poet William Shakespeare states, greatness is something that comes naturally to some, while others must put much effort in to achieve it, and others are forced into it. When examining the United States presidency, much effort must be put into identifying if a president was great and how the president rates compared to previous presidents. For example, political scientist Fred Greenstein (2005) describes six qualities that shape a president’s performance, such as emotional intelligence and political skill, and Joseph A. Pika and John Maltese (2004) add other elements, such as personal character and career, that shape a president’s performance. Besides examining the president on his personal strengths and weaknesses, Stephen Skowroneck (2003) states that it is also vital to evaluate what time period the president held office in, if the country was resilient or not at that time, and if the president supported the previous presidency. When evaluating if our current president, Barack Obama, will be remembered as a great president, using the above criteria and observation methods as well as comparing him to past presidents is vital. President Obama’s approval rating is currently 42% (Gallup.com), with citizens mostly angry about the country’s economic situation. However, with his use of new media and strong interpersonal skills, President Obama’s 2008 campaign and subsequent presidency has given Americans the most personal experience of any campaign and presidency to date. In addition, as the first African American president to hold the office, the historical significance of his presidency is enormous. Ultimately, despite the failures president Obama has experienced thus far in his presidency, President Obama’s campaign and presidency was so revolutionary that it will be remembered as great. Barack Obama’s campaign for the 2008 presidential election brought citizens into the election process in a more personal and accessible way than ever before using new media. One of Fred Greenstein’s (2005) characteristics in determining a successful presidency is the ability for the president to be a public communicator. This means that the president must communicate with the public on what is happening in the country and what decisions are being made. The media has been involved in the presidency since our first president, George Washington. When leaving office, Washington published his Farewell Address in the newspaper. Later, Franklin Delano Roosevelt became famous for his fireside chats during his presidency. Fireside chats were talks given over the radio, with FDR speaking directly to the citizens discussing various issues during his presidency (Milikis, Nelson 2011). Later, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton used the emergence of television in their presidential campaigns, and the Clinton era made the first White House Web site with the emergence of the internet. The 2008 presidential election was so groundbreaking since the historically used means of communication such as newspapers, radios, and television, were completely overshadowed by new media-- texting, the internet, and social media communication. The Web site for the Obama campaign organized over one hundred fifty thousand events, created more than thirty-five thousand groups, had over 1.5 million accounts, and raised over $600 million from three million donors. The campaign used YouTube for free advertising, sending the Web addresses of ads to supporters, and encouraging them to pass the addresses along to their family and friends. Using YouTube instead of broadcast television saved the Obama campaign $47 million dollars. The Obama campaign had over three million Facebook friends, a site populated mostly by college-aged kids at the time, and brought on a gigantic wave of support from young college students supporting the Obama...
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