Obama’s farewell tour

When he was first elected President Obama had huge political goodwill around the world. Many wished him well and were excited by his personal story. I liked the promise of a new approach to international relations. I particularly liked his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay, a blot on the Western conscience, and his wish to disengage from Middle Eastern wars. He carried with him the hope of diplomacy, a new language about reconciling differences and tying to overcome old enmities with new approaches.

Like many I feel badly let down. He never closed Guantanamo. The war in Iraq dragged on, as did the war in Afghanistan. The President often dithered, then added to the military forces involved. He went along with intervention in Libya which removed a bad government, to replace it with a rolling civil war. He bombed some of the time in Syria, as the West sought to create a third force of moderate democrats who either did not exist or who were overwhelmed by both sides in the violent conflict. It is difficult to say the Middle East is a better place today than eight years ago, though Americans have shed much blood and spent much treasure on trying to remodel several countries.

For me the worst moment of his Presidency was when he dared to come to the UK to back the Remain campaign. It was a catastrophic error for the Leader of the Free world to involve himself in a referendum in a friendly country on the wrong side, arguing with those who wanted to argue the British/EU colonial government case rather than the case of the Independence seeking Americans/UK citizens. He communicated a sense of a man who did not particularly like our country. His eviction of Churchill’s bust from the Oval Office was in itself unimportant. I understand his wish to surround himself with his own choice of greats and mentors. It did however, speak eloquently to us that he did not consider the shared crusade to rid Europe of fascism in the 1940s as an important story worthy of recollection close to his desk.

He started his Presidency with the banking crisis in full flow. The US responded more vigorously and more successfully to it than Japan had done to its crisis in the late 1980s, or the Euro area did in 2008-16. During his term the US economy has experienced a sustained but moderate recovery from the collapse it felt in the early days of his tenure. He spent much of his political capital in pushing through Obamacare, which badly divided his nation and led to the collapse of the Democrat vote in subsequent elections. In his later months in office he has seemed strangely detached from the job, surviving in it by touring the world and espousing all the establishment causes he can find.

It is perhaps a fitting end to his tenure that he spends time in Europe with a series of continental politicians that have themselves lost touch with their voters, to make common cause to be tougher against Russia. This is one farewell tour where I will not be buying the soundtrack. Whatever happened to the hopes of a more peaceful world?

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  1. Prigger
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    “For me the worst moment of his Presidency was when he dared to come to the UK to back the Remain campaign”

    President Obama’s Secretary of State Secretary of State John Kerry did not impress either. On 29th August 2013 the House of Commons debated a British intervention
    in the Syrian civil war in line with Obama’s war plans. MPs refused. It was voted down. Mr Kerry’s response was sarcastic. He then went on to praise France as “America’s oldest long-term historic friend.”. A bit later Mr Kerry fell off his bike when engaged in important world security talks somewhere or other ( Switzerland? ) and was transported by helicopter and plane back to America, and the world continued without him.

    • Hope
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Obama made it absolutely clear his disdaine for our country over the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameron had to send an official complaint to stop his rhetoric. Bear in mind Exon Valdise, Bohpal etc.

      Yet Westminster fawned over him when he came here. He has a chip on his shoulder against our country. He promised change and delivered misery. Good riddance. Cameron has a similar story.

      • Hope
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

        JR, in 2010 Osborne pledge a balanced structural deficit by 2015. The media went into a frenzy over austerity which in reality was a hairs width away from the Darling plan. Today we read Hammond scaring us that he will not balance the books by 2020. Therefore after ten years your party has failed to cut public spending and wasting our taxes, as you highlighted several times, yet Hammond content to waste £14 billion on overseas aid each year, HS2, EU contributions, and so forth. Are we ever to get a competent honest chancellor to deliver what they promise?

        I also note the Home Office agree that 119000 illegal immigrants are lost. How do you exActly lose 119000 people? Is this not good enough reason for May to resign. After all your party promised to cut to the tens of thousands when innrealitynyou have lost more people !

        • Hope
          Posted November 19, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          JR, off topic it is being suggested that if May persists with the Supreme Ciurt appeal the court might give devolved nations a veto over Brexit. Is this her true aim?

          • Yossarion
            Posted November 20, 2016 at 4:15 am | Permalink

            Who will be representing the English John?. Wake up England, this is why we need a Parliament.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted November 19, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          Well, if you’d just done as you were advised by the Chancellor and voted to stay in the EU then it might have been possible to balance the books much earlier, say by 2020 instead of 2021.

          That is roughly what is implied by recent forecasts that the UK foolishly leaving the EU will create a catastrophic £100 billion “hole” in the government’s budget.

          However that being the projected cumulative effect over five years, not just one year; so on average that would be £20 billion a year added to whatever the government would otherwise have had to borrow each year.

          Which annual borrowing requirement has more than halved since its peak of £155 billion in 2009/10, having fallen to £76 billion in 2015/16, equivalent to 4.0% of GDP; but which may now fall more slowly than was previously anticipated, as is shown in this House of Commons Library report published yesterday evening:


          Note how the IFS November 2016 forecast has public sector net borrowing for 2019 – 20 at a slightly lower level than the OBR March 2016 forecast had put it for 2018 -19; in other words, even on the pessimistic predictions of the IFS the slow process of balancing the books would be delayed by less than a year.

          This is how pro-EU propaganda routinely works: the economic benefits of the EU are always hugely exaggerated, and likewise any potential economic downsides of leaving the EU are always hugely exaggerated; so instead of a calm assessment such as:

          “It might take a year longer to balance the government’s books”

          there is a screaming FT headline:


          “UK faces £100bn Brexit hole in budget”

          • Hope
            Posted November 20, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

            Agreed Dennis, more articulately written than me. I wanted to know why the PM lets the Chancellorand BoE get away with pro EU propaganda and reins back leavers? I do not trust her and her track record as Home Secretary is appalling. Whether we look at immigration numbers, lost illegal immigrants, refugees, prisons are a complete mess, currently destroying the police. Her liberal views on everything she touches is a complete mess. People want to change the liberal elite view having messed up our public services for over 40 years. Time for change, look across the continent and the US.

            People are fed up with delay of Brexit. Absolute no need as pointed by Cameron.

      • James Matthews
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        Sadly it wasn’t just Westminster that fawned on Obama. The way in which almost all the mainstream British media, broadcast and press, left and right, did so was really quite stomach turning. Pre-teenage girls at Beatles concerts showed more dignity and sense of proportion. A really very strange example of group think on a massive scale.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Doubtless he was asked and encouraged to do so by the remainers – Cameron, Osborne, May and Hammond types.

      He would have been wise to tell them to get lost.

    • Cheshire Girl
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      I honestly believe that Obama was invited to come to the UK to give his opinion on whether or not we should leave the EU. How could it have been otherwise, when our Prime Minister stood next to him, nodding approvingly? If Obama was asked to comment on it, he should have declined, and said it was for the British people to decide, without outside interference.

  2. E.S Tablishment
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Obama did the impossible. In an instant he changed the perception of America. She was being seen as at best a self-appointed world-policeman even by many of her allies. Our people and our media did not have a bad word to say about him. In lasted nearly two years.
    Then Obamacare turned from something theoretically giving added healthcare to the poor to its reality as sucking them dry and making fortunes for private companies. In addition Clumsy foreign policy creating more harm than good.

    He dared to tell us what to do with our membership to the EU!

    If the EU were merely a commercial outfit then why would its major trading competitor, the USA, wish it strong? It was just an Obama military stepping stone to the Russian borders and a mighty provocative dangerous shove eastwards teasing the Russian bear.

    • Hope
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      If he was genuine about the EU he could follow by joining and make the US subservient to Brussels or create a similar structure on the American continent.

  3. SadBeingaDolphin
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    HM The Queen famously was served Guinness but being a senior she graciously refrained from drinking. President Obama very soon made a thing about downing a pint of it on a visit to one of three places of his ancestors.
    It’s only natural Obama is visiting Deutschland. The USA and Germany both received massive aerial bombing in World War Two

    • Qubus
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      “The USA and Germany both received massive aerial bombing in World War Two”.
      Could you perhaps clarify that? Or am I missing something?.

      • getahead
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink


    • facts&truth_please
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      What regions in the USA were bombed during WW2? Is this the calibre of Mr Redwood’s blog audience?

      • hefner
        Posted November 20, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941.

      • E.S Tablishment
        Posted November 22, 2016 at 4:22 am | Permalink

        If I referred to the Emerald Isle, some people on here and everyone’s boss would be looking for an island where could be found emeralds.
        When I was younger, I thought everyone was kidding me. But then a highly intelligent relation with an IQ of genius level , completely off the scale, said “I just don’t know what you mean most of the time” I didn’t commit suicide. I did not throw my hundreds of books away. I simply sat cross-legged on a mountain top for two years with breaks now and again for a shredded wheat and a beer. Thus it was that I discovered 42 was not the the answer to life, the universe and everything, that,,,,, was just a story nor was the answer shredded wheat. It was beer! And, a back issue of The Daily Telegraph with an article in it by Auberon Waugh.

  4. British Spy
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Obama has survived in the last few months by circumventing all Houses of the USA Government and making Executive Order after Executive Order. He has become a one-man band in the Whitehouse. His legacy is that he got two White House chefs to create a special beer called White House Honey Ale. Also the White House Brewery ( a couple of rooms there , one is a small closet really).
    President -Elect Trump is a tee-totaller. His brother died of alcoholism. But Obama Brewery may survive as Trump does not mind other people drinking.

  5. Caterpillar
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    I am sure I am not alone in wondering if he would have been different if he weren’t weighed down by that Nobel in 2009.

    • Mitchel
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Could the same thing be said about the EU and their 2012 Nobel prize……just before Ukraine exploded?

    • Qubus
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      I think that awarding Obama a Nobel prize at the beginning of his presidency simply brings the Nobel committee into disrepute. I would imagine that they would hardly award it to him now.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Indeed an excellent summary, he offered much hope to many, he was a clever but hugely miguoded man. He delivered virtually nothing of value in the end.

    But then the left wing politics of envy, rights, fake equality and “it’s not fair” never does deliver. Yet the politician keep offering it, and many fall for it. His failures on the World Stage were even worse.

    Obamacare was hugely misguided as indeed is the NHS as currently structured.

    • Hope
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Very good speaker, very poor leader.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        Cameron too was good on his feet but had a compass 180 degrees out on nearly every issue.

        Has he passed this broken compass on to T May and P Hammond? I suspect he has, but perhaps Hammond will surprise us next week. A more to cheap energy, lower simpler taxes, far less government waste and efficient but smaller government.

        But having gone ahead with HS2 and Hinkley it is rather doubtful that he will do anything very sensible.

    • Bob
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink


      “left wing politics of envy, rights, fake equality and “it’s not fair” never does deliver.”

      so true.
      Messrs Cameron and Osborne are living proof of that.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

        Indeed they are. At least with Labour and the Libdems you expect such an agenda. But after Heath, Major, Cameron and now May (?) perhaps we need to expect it of the Conservatives too.

        • Hope
          Posted November 20, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

          Hitchens is right, there is not a Conservative party it is there in name only.

  7. TraineeTrump
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    One way to learn about Obama is learning about the man Trump who is of necessity replacing him. He’s just been interviewed by HARVEY Levin. It’s available online ( You Tube ) from various networks. No idea how they have been edited ( we know the media ) so take your pick.

  8. Icon
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    “His eviction of Churchill’s bust from the Oval Office was in itself unimportant.”

    Mmmm. Sometimes a small tiny thing can say so much. You see JR, you mention it, years later. I remember it, years later. Obama is a really smart guy. He knew what it meant to us all.Message received! Bye Obama

    • getahead
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      Yup. It hurt.

  9. Nig l
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I see Theresa May has abandoned the reform of the House of Lords. So much for political elites and people out of touch with voters.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      She has abandoned an ill-considered and irrelevant reform, see my comment on the last thread, whether she has abandoned all reform is another matter.

    • Hope
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Her speech about one nation not the elite few a distant memory after weeks in office!

      • APL
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 8:58 am | Permalink

        Hope: “Her speech about one nation not the elite ..”

        Despite her facile comments about ‘the nasty party’, I was prepared to put that behind, but she has to deliver, pretty goood and pretty fast.

    Posted November 19, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    His legacy will be not what he said wanted. It’s a healthcare system in tatters. Middle East war torn and fragmented. America deeply in debt. A Russia/ West relationship at loggerheads again. A Democratic party perceived even by many of its membership as corrupt and in the hands of Big Business and in the pay of people ready to buy Law.The icing on rthe Democratic Cake: massively rich celebrities hosting parties for rich donors. It sucks. Obama and Clinton insomuch as they hate the politics of Trump created his voters from nothing.

    Luckily, for us all, and although Trump shows off his straightforward business text books, never admits to being a bibliophile. It is the greatest lie by omission of any leader in the world.

  11. A different Simon
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    He was more anti-British than any of the Oirish sympathisers including the Kennedy’s .

    In the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico , Obama referred to BP as “British Petroleum” even though BP had not been short for “British Petroleum” for 20 years .

    Obama is (was?) one of those improbable characters from history who came from nowhere such as etc ed . They could not have got where they did without finance and help from those Internationally who pull the strings .

    He did nothing for the little people , nothing to reign in Wall Street in the aftermath of the GFC . Ultimately strengthened the status quo which was perhaps what the U.S. establishment wanted .

    • David Cooper
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Indeed. And before its abbreviation to BP, the company was “BP-Amoco”. Should it not be blindingly obvious what message “Amoco” conveyed, its previous name was Standard Oil Company (Indiana), founded by John D.Rockefeller. Do you get it now, Mr soon-to-be-ex President?

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      ‘He was more anti-British than any of the Oirish sympathisers including the Kennedy’s’

      – The first person Mr Trump called as President-Elect was the PM of Ireland (the PM of The United Kingdom was 10th on his list).

      Of course, Boris, de facto Brexit leader (most persuasive in referendum) insulted him (couldn’t have written the script). And then, Gove, other Brexit leader, stabs Boris in the back. Meanwhile, the government is giving the cold shoulder to Nigel (after his senior party members end up in punch up), the other Brexit leader, who desperately wants everyone to see him in a new special role with the US President (as if he’s grown born of Brexit now with more exciting things going on across the pond).

      It’s like a Hollywood script but better with lots of strutting and fretting on the stage, but you just wonder is anyone actually directing the play? (not a reference to divine providence).

      • rose
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        If you are thinking of Boris’s article, it didn’t insult him. Read it in context.

        The hostile media take words out of context to bend people’s minds. If they were confident of their point they wouldn’t need to do that. The words they use to damn Boris came from the Guardian.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted November 19, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          Also, what’s Boris doing in politics?
          They say he’s really clever. So what – so was my Latin master at school (but I wouldn’t put him in charge of a village fete).
          They say Boris is like Churchill.
          Nonsense. Churchill had enormous energy. Extremely active. And worked really hard. He also wasn’t afraid to stand alone about things he was really committed about. Boris isn’t that committed about Brexit. Unlike Churchill about facing up to the Nazis during 1930’s and standing up to Lord Halifax and others who didn’t want Churchill Conservative leader in 1940 (i think it was).
          The comparison is ludicrous, and trivialises and undermines the legacy of Churchill and everything he did for this country.

        • Ed Mahony
          Posted November 19, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

          (Btw, not suggesting Boris is a coward or anything, but that he’s done nothing in politics to demonstrate that he can stand alone over a principle like Churchill did during the 1930’s and 1940 – no doubt Boris has in his private life and career outside politics – but nothing to compare him to Churchill in politics – not trying to undermine his honour, just dislike the way people try and compare him to Churchill – as that undermines everything Churchill did for all before and during WW2). (And yes, like lots of others, I’m a massive fan of Churchill ..)

      • Mitchel
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        “Brexit” is now a global movement-in power in the USA,not in power here despite the vote.Farage can do more good leveraging his influence in the US than here.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Indeed Obama’s British Petroleum attacks were pathetic. But then politicians so very often are exactly that, especially the ones coming from the left.

    • Mitchel
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      @A different Simon, no “perhaps” about it.

  12. MikeP
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Obama lost it for me when he insisted on calling BP, an employer of hundreds of thousands of Americans, “British Petroleum”. I guess to call it BP would mean little to his audience, but to spit out the word “British” with such distaste was an unsavoury poke at the UK. BP has more than paid for its woes in the Gulf oil platform disaster, unlike Exxon after the huge oil spill from the Exxon Valdez years before. Obama never really got over our colonial past.
    There’s no doubting that he is a great orator, excellent timing, mastering the autocue and with great speech writers in tow, but words are cheap. Trump is much less skilled at oratory so we live in hope that he can deliver results better than his predecessor.

  13. Richard1
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    The election of America’s first black president was an important moment, and the hope should be that over time it will serve to lessen racial divides in the US. Obama has carried himself with grace and calm which is good in a person in that position. Let’s hope Donald Trump makes a big effort to re-model himself and become, at least at a personal level, more like Mr Obama. But I agree Obama has not been an efffective president – it would have been better if Mitt Romney had won in 2012.

    It’s odd that Mr Obama doesn’t feel he should visit the UK, the US’s most important and stalwart ally.

    • Crazy
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Obama’s famous joke soon into his Presidency and he laughed saying it ,was about a team so underperforming “they were like paraolympians”. Hell broke loose. But he simply said sorry. And the corrupt media here and America forgot about it. Even today on the last Question Time a Labour MP commented on Trump saying he insulted disabled people.Hhe was referring to a Trump rally comment in which Trump twisted his arms up and down speaking of a disabled journalist’s response to him. Of course the same visual description by Trump was made prior to that of Ted Cruz ( physically able ) in February 2015. But Labour never has let truth get in their way of slagging of people off far superior in intellect than themselves.Better looking too. And successful.

    • Bob
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink


      “It’s odd that Mr Obama doesn’t feel he should visit the UK”

      Not odd at all, his dislike of the British is palpable.
      I never considered him representative of the American people.

      • getahead
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        Exactly Bob.

    • rose
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      He wasn’t even “black” and was criticised for this by African Americans. A pity so many people all over the world wanted him to be US president just because, they said, he was “black.” Will we ever get over this habit of discriminating from a position of racial prejudice? How will we ever get good people if they can’t be judged on their merits?

      It was the same with Mrs Clinton. People there and here wanted her to win because she was a woman.

      It has been laid down that even Mr Trump has got to have racial anad sexual quotas in his administration.

    • Mitchel
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      @ we’re a vassal not an ally;no need to spend time on what you’ve already got in your pocket.

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Much of today’s comment about Obama seems unfair and over the top. As far as I can see, he seems to have taken the hand he was dealt and played it in a cautious, almost conservative manner.

      For instance, he has reduced the numbers to around only 100 at Guantanamo Bay, but not closed it. The remaining people are regarded as hardcore Islamists and Obama was well aware that if they were released and committed further atrocities, his presidency would be toast.

      On the question of the racial divide in the US, one cannot expect Obama to be able to bridge that. If the next UK prime minister is a Roman Catholic from Northern Ireland, does that mean we have solved the Irish problem?

      In the Middle East Obama has been careful not to commit ground troops after the withdrawal from Iraq. He was not the president who got America and the West bogged down in that quagmire.

      Finally, on the much vexed question of whether Obama likes Britain or not. Maybe he does not, but we (and I include our foreign secretary here) must understand that the American President will, in foreign policy, follow what he takes to be the interests of the U.S. Most U.S. leaders, not just Obama, have taken the view that they would like the UK in the EU to represent the American viewpoint. Franklin Roosevelt didn’t like Britain either but this did not mean he wouldn’t be the UK’s ally when he thought it wise.

      The notion that nations have definite interests is something we need to keep in mind in the coming negotiations with the EU.

  14. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    A very sour post about one of the most civilized human beings that made it to president of the US. Maybe just a bad day, or sour grapes because of Berlin instead of London?

    • A different Simon
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Berlin was a case of yesterday’s man meeting soon to be yesterday’s woman .

      Do you seriously think any self respecting Briton would have wanted Obama to call in on the UK except to visit relatives and play golf ?

      • formula57
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        I would have welcomed Obama coming to the UK so that he could give us all an update on our place in the queue, especially after him witnessing how the EU treated Canada.

    • libertarian
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Peter vL

      Get someone to read JR’s post to you as you obviously failed to read it properly.

      JR and no one sensible here has said that the man himself isn’t anything other than a pleasant and in fact quite charismatic person. What was pointed out and is fairly indisputable is that he is a terrible leader/manager/doer of things as his failed delivery of promises over two terms shows. Yes he talks a good talk… Not much use to people though is it?

      Or is your post a satire of “post truth” blogging?

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        @libertarian: If anything, from your post I conclude to have read JR’s post more accurately then you, and my comment was about its general mood – having nothing positive to mention about Obama. He was so much better than his predecessor, and personally I don’t hold much hope for the guy that will succeed him.
        And yes, Obama did “fail” to start another war or invade another country.

        • stred
          Posted November 20, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

          He backed Mrs Clinton and turned Libya into an ISIS state. Having left Iraqto create Isis and then backing them to oust Assad, he started an awful civil war. Both have been a disaster for Europe and the populations, which have seen the most savage killings since the middle ages. Then he backed his allies in the Notting Hill set and interfered in the UK referendum. Thankfully they are now history.

    • James Matthews
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Don’t be silly. He is the outgoing President. No one cares where else he goes. Many of us here would regard a visit not just with polite indifference but, as a result of his interference in the Brexit debate, profoundly unwelcome.

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

        @James Matthews: If so, interesting that Theresa May went all the way to Berlin to speak to Obama! 🙂
        I would suggest that your politicians are very much of the interfering kind and are occasionally even seen campaigning abroad!

        • James Matthews
          Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

          I think she probably went to speak to Merkel and the other EU leaders (regrettably we haven’t left yet).

          No one doubts the importance of the United States, but, as others have said, Obama is yesterday’s President.

          Yes, we do have politician’s who are unable to keep their opinions to themselves when they should, notably those who have foolishly sounded off about Trump, but Obama, when he came to lecture us on how we should vote, was not just a politician, he was a serving US President. If you can cite an example of a serving British Prime Minister going to another country to interfere in a democratic election in this way please do so.

          I can’t think of one, but if such exists, it would be indefensible and the citizens of the nation (s) concerned would have every justification for outrage.

    • ian wragg
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      The most disappointing president in history. Even Carter was better.
      How goes the referendum un Ukraine Peter in that bastion of democracy called the EU.

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        @ian wragg: One of the best presidents the US has had (as usual – a democrat)
        Dutch democracy, in spite of its complexity (lower house, upper house) is doing fine. I still expect that a suitable solution for the Ukraine referendum will be found, give it some time please.

    • formula57
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I would agree with you Peter Van Leeuwen that Obama is ” one of the most civilized human beings that made it to president of the US”. His apparent handling of the transition to Trump is the latest illustration of that.

      His presidency though has been a disappointment, notwithstanding the difficult times with which it has coincided. The early Cairo speech offered so much hope and delivered nothing; Obama being the first non-white president has been irrelvant when it ought to have been a very positive thing in contemporary circumstances and now the US seems more racially divided than when Obama assumed office; the economic recovery has been slow and the bankers and Wall Street have enjoyed huge public subsidy and little curbing of their ways. All in all, a sour note does not seem out of place when making an assessment.

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

        I wouldn’t blame Obama for the current racial divide in the US, just as I wouldn’t blame David Cameron for the upsurge of xenophobia in your country. Apparently, quite a few Americans were disappointed with their president who was so successfully undermined by a republican congress.

        • rose
          Posted November 20, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          Dear Peter

          Where is your evidence that there has been an upsurge in xenophobia in our country? How can such a thing happen?

          Do try to separate propaganda from fact. Look at the crime figures. They haven’t changed.

    • Richard1
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      That’s an odd comment. Obama is an elected politician who’s position gives him great power and influence over all of us. Surely it’s perfectly legitimate to assess and if need be criticise him?!

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        @Richard1: Obviously true, but very one-sided in my view. From seasoned British politicians a more balanced assessment would have been more welcome as far as I’m concerned.

        • getahead
          Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

          It seems to me Peter that you are the one with only one side.

      • acorn
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        Remember a US President, has nowhere near the “executive” power of a UK Prime Minister. The US Congress made up of opposing parties, can slow a President to a crawl and maul his proposals. The UK Parliament rarely ever gets close to anything similar. “Elected dictatorship” as Lord Haisham called the UK Executive.

        • acorn
          Posted November 19, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          This week’s political bets, waiting for a prices from the Bookies.

          (1) Odds: the UK Supreme Court will boot the Brexit case, over to the European Court of Justice.

          (2) Odds: delaying tactics such as the above; plus others, will render the actual date of the Article 50 two year time-out; beyond the next scheduled General Election (GE). Possibly making the next GE, a hybrid second referendum on Brexit.

          PS. Conservative Party will go into the 2020 GE, proclaiming unanimously that, after thousands of hours of calculating and negotiating, Brexit is actually a bad idea.

          • getahead
            Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

            Regaining our sovereignty is an extremely good idea.

    • ChrisS
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Not sour grapes at all. I believe it to be a realistic assessment of the man.

      No need for personal insults, the man has so evidently been ineffective in office.
      Hardly a surprise he prefers Merkel as his closest ally. They are equally indecisive !

      It is a pity that the first non-white President has been so forgettable in every other respect. Also I have never understood why he is referred to as the first “Black” president.

      I think it’s unimportant but those that do consider it significant should note that Obama isn’t Black, he’s mixed race. There is a difference.

      Clearly for the UK, Trump was the better choice. We will have to see how the new administration develops.

    • Antisthenes
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      ” one of the most civilized human beings that made it to president of the US”

      If that is your observation of the man then I detect a deficiency in your ability to form accurate assessments of people you come across or observe. I hope you do not or anticipate to own a business as you will employ people to help you make it a success who will most decidedly lack the ability needed.

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

        @Antisthenes: That is a real fun argument. Let’s see over time how good the choice of personnel will be of this businessman turned president elect. 🙂

        • Antisthenes
          Posted November 20, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          That is not an argument. Ability to sum people up is one of our attributes. Some are good at doing it but I believe they are in the minority. On initial assessment Trump would not be my choice for president but considerably better than the alternative . Assessment of course changes as information grows. Sometimes it can confound the initial impression. Hopefully this one of those times.

    • Brigham
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      I can’t fault Obama. It was his blatant interfering, telling us we should remain in the EU, that was probably responsible for several thousand undecided to vote leave.

  15. SocialWorker
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Our media is still in the Love Obama Him Good mode and Trump is Wacko. Our universities are intellectually impoverished throwing up such jounos. They’re so clump-headed they only research stuff by reading their own erroneous bent analyses typed when on something special slipped into their hand at a celebrity party. Though it could be they are just thinking of their market: clump-headed editors. Everyone has to eat….. Which, makes me think of an unusual and cruel but deserving punishment for media moguls. Is Guantanamo Bay closed yet?

  16. NA
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Civilians killed from drone strikes and ‘double tapping’ increased under Obama

  17. ian
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    The job does not hold a lot of power apart from talking overseas policy,arm forces, and if capital hill let you do a pet project, wall and immigration might be look on as oversea policy.

  18. LondonBob
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    He was never remotely qualified to be President. An empty suit who got pushed around by his advisers but read his teleprompter eloquently and acted the part. Good riddance.

  19. Bob
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Let’s be brutally frank about it, this was an exercise in positive discrimination, and it failed as it always does.

    We have many such examples in our own Parliament, but I won’t name any because you’ll just censor them.

  20. oldtimer
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    It is clear that Whitehall`s constant references to the “special relationship” is/was little more than whistling in the dark so far as President Obama is/was concerned. My advice is that they should self-impose an ordinance never to use the phrase again. It is now meaningless. The relationships that exist are based on hard nosed mutual interests with, I suspect, a bias towards the US interests as the more powerful partner. This seems unlikely to change with President elect Trump except in the direction that future deals will be even more hard-nosed.

  21. mike fowle
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Good summary, Mr Redwood. At the end of the day a negligible President, who has seen racism increase in the US through the Black Lives Matter movement. I have seen several speeches of Obama on line where he spends his time attacking people, like Trump, and felt this was very small minded for a president.

  22. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I’m spoilt for choice concerning Mr Obama’s worst moments as president as he concludes his tour, while still in severe denial concerning the complete repudiation of his damaging policies. He is the only US president I can recall who has been a “lame duck” for eight years.

    Race relations in America are at their worst since the 1960s, the Middle East is in turmoil because of his dithering, the US economy is anaemic, the Russians and Iranians laugh at him and he has the insolence to lecture President-elect Trump to stand firm against Mr Putin.

    In my opinion Mr Obama is by far the most incompetent US president since World War II. The world will be a safer place while he langusishes in retirement. Good riddance!

  23. Edward Saunders
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid Obama got off on the wrong foot as far as I’m concerned. I remember how he embraced the catastrophic man-made global warming case even before he took office, and declared he would close the coal mines. A nonsensical suggestion that, no doubt, made China very happy as they continued to burn coal in vast quantities. He was as good as his word and closed down many mines and condemned miners to join the employed. He seemed quite happy to begin to deindustrialise his country.

    • hefner
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      … as some British Prime Ministers have done?

  24. Antisthenes
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Obama will go down in history as the as one of the worst presidents. He came into office full of progressive promise and delivered nothing of it. Simply because progressive promises are empty and counterproductive. Using emotion and misguided ethics rather than logic, reason and practical common sense to create and deliver policies.

    His legacy will be that race relations in the US has regressed, debt has grown without corresponding benefits, immigration is out of control in both the US and Europe (although the EU has as much responsibility for that as him), terrorism is no closer to a solution in fact the threat is growing. His foreign policy has been such that conflicts have been encouraged or deals done that have enhanced tyranny and done nothing to promote democracy or the security of the West.

    He has truly been dreadful and exposed once again that left wing thinking is pernicious and that it should be abandoned. It is not that this is the only evidence as time and time again we have seen the harmful results of it as it destroys economies and civil liberties. Proving Einstein on the subject of repeating something regardless of the fact that the result will be the same. Only fools do that and the left. Yet for all that he is still very popular and no doubt will be seen as one of the most popular US presidents. To that I can only say, perverse or what.

  25. Bert Young
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Obama arrived in office with a chip on his shoulder – he never got rid of it . His foreign policy was a mess ; the USA was led into conflicts it should have avoided . His attempts to quell the racial discrimination in the USA ended in as much of a mess as it was at the beginning ; overall he was a mistake .

    Will the world be better off without him ? – I think so , he has not left any legacy he will be remembered by . At the moment there is a chance that the aggressive Russia can be brought in from the cold and the threat to world peace ended ; this alone would be the achievement everyone would gain from – PvL please note !.

  26. margaret
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink


  27. James Neill
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Obama was such a waste of space- he could not even close Guantanamo – which he could have done by executive order- and then what about the introduction of Obama care? which has proved to be so divisive for the American people.

    His foreign policy was to not rock the boat but to make waves- small waves- which brings us to the ‘Obama Slink’- have you ever noticed the way he just slinks off from press conferences etc after been asked the hard questions by journalists? This guy Obama was truly such a disappointment that history probably won’t even record his name.

  28. Peter D Gardner
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I have not followed Obama’s presidency in depth but from what I know John Redwood’s retrospective is a hard but fair assessment. I just wish more of our politicians could take such a clear eyed view of the world. Then we might get better policies from them.

    There is a debate going on at present about whether MPs should simply do as they are told by constituents, ie, act as delegates, or whether they should act in what they consider to be the interests of the wider community. The latter view arises from Burke and other constitutional students of earlier times when MPs represented in parliament the interests of all their constituents but were elected only by a subsection of the adult male constituents and none of the females.
    This argument is raised frequently by people holding the opinion that the EU referendum was only advisory and can therefore be over-ruled by either the government or by Parliament.
    It’s bollocks, both legally and constitutionally.

  29. Hugh Rose
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    “I particularly liked his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay…”
    and then Obama found out that in a civilised society there is not much else you can do with captured religious fanatics committed to killing (in the most foul ways) all those who do not share their beliefs except lock them up until they change their views.

    It would be interesting to hear what you propose should be done with any captured ISIS prisoners – many perhaps holding European nationality. The problem may be limited by the combatants not taking many prisoners but ultimately we may have a large number of ‘Jihadi Johns’ and their families returned to us.

    Reply You prosecute them based on evidence or release them if there is no proof of their terrorist intents

    • James Neill
      Posted November 20, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Just take their passports off them and then in the dead 9f night drop them off by helicopter into the middle of the desert with a bottle of water and a mars bar. Problem solved– there is no way any of these Isis guys should be allowed back again into western Europe.

  30. Anna
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    A small point: Obama did not have the bust of Churchill removed from the Oval Office. There were, in fact, two busts of Churchill in the White House: one was positioned outside the Treaty Room close to the Oval Office and is still there. The one in the Oval Office was a temporary loan, arranged by Tony Blair to George Bush for the duration of his presidency, and was removed with all the other paraphernalia of the outgoing president when he left office. These details are confirmed by Sir Peter Westmacott, who was British Ambassador at the time.

    • TV addict
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      A bigger point: I wonder why I saw Obama in person on TV in the Oval Office watching its removal. Also why he commented on his reasons at the time, on camera. Beware of British Ambassadors..ask an African.

  31. Hugh Rose
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    “… he did not consider the shared crusade to rid Europe of fascism in the 1940s….” It is funny how people’s perceptions differ.

    As I understand history, we did not mount a joint crusade to rid Europe of fascism (there were plenty of fascists in UK, Spain and elsewhere and I have never heard of Japanese government described as such). UK (initially with France and Belgium) went to war against those countries which had invaded their neighbours with whom we had treaties not because they had fascist governments.

    Two years later, it took a direct attack on the USA to persuade the States that that they should actually step up to mark and help to defend freedom from tyranny using their own blood and treasure rather than merely profiting from to supply of munitions to UK .

    It does however ‘speak volumes’ in how much confidence the West could have placed in Obama’s commitment to defend the free world.

    • Mitchel
      Posted November 19, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely right.Same as caused WWI.

  32. hefner
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Funny that there is no mention of the adverse effects of what both a Republican Senate and House of Representatives could have on what Obama could do during his second term. Does JR not know how the US democracy work?

    There will now be a “Republican” President, and Republican Senate and HoR for the coming four years. It will be interesting to hear what JR will have to say at the end of November 2020 on President Trump.

    • formula57
      Posted November 20, 2016 at 12:38 am | Permalink

      The mid-term elections in 2018 could see a shift of the party in control in Congress.

  33. The Prangwizard
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    A few years ago when I was visiting my American family I watched a televised speech of his to graduating students. He made references to history in which made a special point of referring to the ‘terror’ of the Redcoats. His tone was disturbingly anti-British.

  34. Iain Gill
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Are NOT being listened to.

  35. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I see that you are mentioned in the Telegraph, JR, as a “heavyweight Brexiteer” who is one of 60 Tory MPs (and apparently also eleven Labour, DUP and Ukip MPs) who are now publicly demanding that we make a clean break from the EU.


    “The UK must leave the European Economic Area [EEA] and the Customs Union.”

    As I’ve said before, when the decision taken by the British people on June 23rd is finally honoured and we leave the EU, if that ever happens, then we will have no choice about also leaving the EU’s single or internal market, and in fact the same is true for the EU’s customs union which is specifically the EU’s customs union by Article 28 TFEU:


    “1. The Union shall comprise a customs union which shall cover all trade in goods and
    which shall involve the prohibition between Member States of customs duties on
    imports and exports and of all charges having equivalent effect, and the adoption of a
    common customs tariff in their relations with third countries.”

    If you’re not in the “Union”, the EU, then you cannot be covered by that treaty provision and you cannot be in the EU’s custom union. Yes, you can follow the example of Turkey and negotiate a customs union with the EU’s customs union – a poor option – but you cannot be in or be a part of or be a member of the EU’s customs union.

    Likewise, if you are not in the EU then you cannot be in or be part of or be a member of the EU’s single or internal market. Yes, you can follow the example of the EFTA states and negotiate preferential access to the EU’s internal market, but their EEA deal is also an unattractive option unless you are not particularly concerned about continuing unlimited and uncontrollable immigration from the EU and don’t mind paying a fee and are willing to have EU laws applied not just to your exports but to all your economic activities.

    Personally I have gradually gone off the idea of staying in the EEA even supposedly as an interim or transitional phase. The central disagreement with our neighbours is that their political leaders are gripped by a quasi-religious belief in the inseparability of the “four freedoms” upon which they say their internal market is based, while we are happy with three of those “four freedoms” but cannot accept the fourth, the untrammeled freedom of movement of persons.

    There are some on the continent who are not so committed to the irrational dogma of the indivisibility of the “four freedoms”, and sensibly believe that the freedom of movement of persons could be split off and is not actually essential for the operation of the other three freedoms, but unfortunately those saner individuals are not in charge.

    I don’t think there’s any point in trying to find some fudge like the EEA which by the admission of its advocates would only give us “some limited” control over immigration from the EU, we should make regaining complete control of our immigration policy an immovable red line and negotiate from there on the matter of trade.

    If the other governments decide to ignore their obligations under both the EU treaties and wider “international law” about economic sanctions, and deliberately set out to damage our trade, even with their own economies suffering collateral damage, then so be it.

    By doing that they would show themselves to be stupid, spiteful and untrustworthy; and I suppose that in a way some on the Remain side deserve congratulations for seeing that and warning us about the high likelihood of a severe “punishment beating” from our lovely “European partners”, when many on the Leave side were prepared to hold a much higher opinion of our neighbours.

    There is really no point trying to appease these people, they are fanatics.

  36. NA
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    For me the worst moment of his Presidency was when he dared to come to the UK to back the Remain campaign. It was a catastrophic error for the Leader of the Free world to involve himself in a referendum in a friendly country on the wrong side

    hear! hear!

  37. Can I help you?
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Of course at the time Osborne announced all the lump sum pension stuff , few in Parliament thought pensioners would get ripped off. He said that people were mature enough to make up their minds of what they wished to do with their own money. Oh yeah, if that were true there would be no such beings as Salespersons, Sales Reps, Sales Agent, Sales Executives. I guess Osborne loses stacks of money when he buys anything so much a lollipop.Rival Shop keepers must have street battles as they see him coming.

  38. Jane Moorhouse
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t agree with you more JR. I felt personally threatened when he gave that horrible speech during the referendum. It was unnecessary and another nail in remain’s coffin.

  39. A Dead Liberal
    Posted November 19, 2016 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    The media and a few Brexiteers are tonight advocating caving in to the Supreme Court idea; ditching the notion of an Appeal and accepting the Court is correct.
    One hopes sanity will prevail. The consequences of the Bewigged flouting the Will of the People by dusting off some ancient narrative in a yellowy paged law book and speaking with deft pallete sounds like the beginning of a novel we will eventually cry about as we read…like the poems of Wilfred Owen. etc ed

    Posted November 19, 2016 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Corbyn newspeaks of “White middle class males”.
    It is a cliche; yet, all this is not going to end well

  41. Original Richard
    Posted November 20, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    That Mr. Obama did not like the UK or its people is not in doubt.

    Although it may have been acceptable for Mr. Obama to say that he preferred if the UK were to remain in the EU it was not acceptable for him to threaten one of rhe USA’s closest allies with being at the “back of the queue” on trade deals should the UK exit the EU.

    In fact such a statement comes close to threatening trade sanctions.

    This threat no doubt did have an affect on the then undecided voters, if not on the hard line remain and leave voters, as did such dire economic predictions from the IMF and our own Treasury whose May report on the short term consequences predicted a vote to leave (not actually leaving the EU) would lead to an increase in unemployment of 500,000.

    If it were not for Mr. Obama’s intervention and threat, together with those from our government the result of the EU referendum would have been at least 65/25 leave/remain.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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