As he leaves office on a wave of popularity, the bitter truth for Barack Obama is that his replacement will reverse at least some if not many of his policies of the past eight years.
But as that national story unfolds, we in Louisiana have reason to reflect on both positive and problematic ways the outgoing president has shaped our state, where voters chose somebody else in the 2008 and 2012 elections.
Perhaps any president would have wanted to improve upon how the George W. Bush administration answered hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Obama deserves credit for helping to get Louisiana and particularly the greater New Orleans region the resources to rebound.
The president has backed recovery with real dollars, including settlements of outstanding state and local claims disputed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Hundreds of millions of dollars were at stake. Bureaucratic intransigence, though, was gradually broken down, with Louisiana and New Orleans benefiting greatly.
The settlement of some $2 billion in claims for New Orleans' infrastructure of roads and drainage will pay for improvements to the city for years to come. Transit improvements, including an expanded streetcar line in New Orleans, are also big pluses for the city's future.
New Orleans' successful experiment with charter schools since Katrina found willing partners in Obama and Arne Duncan, head of the U.S. Department of Education for most of the president's two terms. This was sometimes politically difficult for the president, whose party has depended on the support of teachers' unions who generally resist charters. Obama's courage on this issue is reaping big dividends for the Crescent City.
On the oil and gas front, the Obama record is hardly what we would consider shining, defined as it was by a reflexive hostility to fossil fuels. Dithering for years over the Keystone XL pipeline before finally stopping the project was one example. Backing down from East Coast and Arctic drilling was perhaps politically expedient in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, but neither decision is in the best interest of the nation's energy future.
At the time, Obama was harshly criticized by drillers for his moratorium after the oil spill. Looking ahead, we hope that the long-term consequence will be a safer and productive energy frontier offshore.
Also controversial here is the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, but we like its expansion of Medicaid insurance coverage to the working poor. As a new health care initiative is worked out in Washington, we hope that Medicaid expansion will be retained.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were among the consolers of the nation in the wake of police shootings, including the horrific attack last July in Baton Rouge. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has also been a positive force in the wake of that turmoil in Louisiana.
Disaster followed in Baton Rouge and across south Louisiana as historic flooding devastated thousands of families. Obama was quick to respond with disaster declarations and backed recovery aid on Capitol Hill. It hasn't been as quick as we'd like, perhaps, but that has not been owing to any lack of support from the White House.
Every president, or any executive, gets some of the blame when things go wrong. As we wish President Obama well in his post-White House life, we also salute his accomplishments in office that helped us in Louisiana.
Eight years ago, on a Tuesday night, I sat at my laptop writing a column about the election …