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The Obama Report Card: Best And Worst

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Arguably, Barack Obama is the best president in American history, says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, because Obama "has managed to do what no African-American ... has ever been able to accomplish — win the White House and then be re-elected handily; he has passed the first true national health care system, which every other president since Harry Truman has failed to do; he carefully steered the country around the shoals of the Great Recession, and now the economy is bouncing back; he ended the war in Iraq and will soon end the war in Afghanistan, an achievement for world peace as well as the strong preference of the American public; and at the same time he has pursued a successful war against terrorism that has eliminated the threat from Osama bin Laden and many others of his ilk."

Arguably, Barack Obama is the worst president in American history, says Sabato, because Obama "was exceptionally inexperienced and unprepared for the challenges of the White House; he muffed opportunities to bring the U.S. economy out of the doldrums much faster; he forced the highly controversial Obamacare through Congress with almost no bipartisan support, guaranteeing its revision or repeal at a later time; he has proven to be very partisan and unable to work with the opposition party; due to his unwise policies, Iraq is becoming a disaster, and Afghanistan may well follow; scandals are overwhelming Obama as various chickens come home to roost; and the national debt has soared because of his out-of-control spending policies, even as he has significantly raised taxes."

Sabato says he's only able to articulate the two sides of the argument by imagining that he is "an uber-partisan, first a Democrat and then a Republican. I am neither. I don't fully believe either answer. I want to wait at least 20 years before assessing Obama's presidency."

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Linton Weeks joined NPR in the summer of 2008, as its national correspondent for Digital News. He immediately hit the campaign trail, covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; fact-checking the debates; and exploring the candidates, the issues and the electorate.