Top Two Bequests

This week we learned that President Barack Obama bequeathed to President Donald Trump two Big Things. The first was a new norm: health care in America is not a privilege, it is a right. The second is Putin reborn: Russian President Vladimir Putin reborn as an international menace, no longer an international nonentity.

What this means for Obama is that his record is mixed. He will go down in history as the president who expanded our conception of what is owed every American – basic health care. And he will go down in history as the president who enabled a thug to reclaim what he regarded as Russia’s rightful place of power in world affairs.

What this means for Trump is that he is shackled in ways that he never imagined. He never imagined how powerful the idea that no one should go broke on account of being ill. And he never imagined how Machiavellian his putative pal in the Kremlin, who went on to haunt rather than help him.

The history of Obama’s time in the White House has yet to be written. But I am betting that America’s forty-fourth president will be credited with expanding national health care. And I am betting that America’s forty-fourth president will be faulted for letting a rat in the tent. His legacy to Trump is, in any case, clear. Not one albatross around his neck, but two.

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