President Obama only has a few days left on the job. On January 20, Donald Trump will be sworn in as his successor. After that, Obama will have plenty of time to work on his much-anticipated third memoir about how, actually, he was right about everything that happened during his presidency.
Obama never thought Donald Trump would win the election. He recently acknowledged that his judgment was clouded by living in “the bubble” of the presidency. It’s hardly the first time Obama has been caught off guard during his eight years office. He has constantly “underestimated” the possibility that bad things would happen.
In 2010, for example, Obama underestimated the political costs Democrats would pay for passing the controversial healthcare overhaul known as Obamacare. “I made the decision to go ahead and do it, and it proved as costly politically as we expected — probably actually a little more costly than we expected, politically,” he said following his party’s dismal performance in the 2010 midterm elections.
Years later, when it was time to fully enact the healthcare law, Obama was surprised by all the problems associated with launching the HeathCare.Gov web site. “I think that we probably underestimated the complexities of building out a website that needed to work the way it should,” Obama said in November 2013.
In 2014, after watching ISIS, the terrorist group he once dismissed as the “JV team,” rise to prominence in the Middle East, the president said his administration “underestimated” the group’s strength, and the willingness of the Iraqi military to combat it. Obama didn’t exactly take personal responsibility, but suggested the intelligence community had made inaccurate assessments of the situation on the ground.
More recently, Obama is insisting that he didn’t “underestimate” the threat posed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite his mocking of Mitt Romney in 2012 for suggesting Russia was a “geopolitical” threat. Obama argued that the only thing he “underestimated” was, in effect, the intelligence of the American people, and their capacity to be swayed by cyberattacks.
“I don’t think I underestimated [Putin], but I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation, for cyber hacking and so forth, to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating,” Obama said.
At least, unlike his predecessor, he didn’t “misunderestimate”.
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