Obama's improbable win on health-care reform is one for the history books and will boost his credibility

Historians in the News

The success or failure of President Barack Obama's sweeping overhaul of the American health-care system will be clear soon enough. The measure will be revised and amended in successive Congresses. If, over the next decade, it curbs costs and improves outcomes, health care will supersede any other possible legislative accomplishment as Obama's great legacy....

Still, the victory is historic, one that eluded Presidents from Harry Truman through Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. At several critical junctures it appeared likely to elude Obama, too. Yet even when close associates wavered, his resolve did not. "A lot of Presidents would have concluded it's too risky; maybe get safely reelected and take up health care in year five," says historian Michael Beschloss. "Obama said the rewards were so high, it was worth gambling his Presidency."...

Although most Republicans, including the major Presidential hopefuls, are signing pledges to repeal Obamacare, it will be revealing whether this issue is emphasized by Republicans in a few months. Already privately some are saying they should get off it. Republican strategist Ken Khachigian, a former Ronald Reagan aide and now adviser to Carly Fiorina's California Senate quest, suspects that the health-care issue "will fade" as the November election becomes dominated by the economy....

George Mason University historian Richard Norton Smith adds that if the measure had been defeated, history would have seen Obama as enormously gifted and well-intentioned but ultimately labeled his a "failed Presidency." Instead, he says: "It's a rejuvenated, energized, and in many ways vindicated Presidency."

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Donald Wolberg - 3/30/2010

With dominating party control of the House and Senate, it is more a datum of the failure of the Obama administration that the medical care fight took so long and was so bloody, rather than an indication of intelligence or capability. Indeed, the complete unpopularity fot eh legislation and the almost certain retaliation by voters further indicates an administration that has failed in a way not seen since that of the Carter administration. Given to slogans and not substance, Mr. Obama is the perfect example of superficiality. The relegation of NASA to automobile repair and not science is the poster for this administration's lack of substance, not a banner of victory.