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Obama on the Home Front: Domestic Policy Triumphs and Setbacks, John D. Graham

Reviewed by Graham G. Dodds



Given the manifold difficulties of the early Donald Trump presidency and its unrealized public policy ambitions, the issue of evaluating a president's policy accomplishments has been very much in the news. In Bush on the Home Front (2010), John D. Graham detailed the domestic policy successes and failures of George W. Bush's presidency, and now in Obama on the Home Front, he does the same for Barack Obama's presidency.

Graham declines to pass judgment on whether Obama's domestic policy efforts were good or bad for the country and instead focuses only on the extent to which Obama succeeded or failed in his policy goals. The book also presents a nine-point theory of presidential effectiveness in times of political polarization, which involves outreach, the inclusion of elements to appeal to the base and also to moderates, the use of interest groups, and going public both nationally and locally, among other things. Beyond this theory, the book uses case studies and counterfactual considerations to evaluate Obama's policy performance.

Most of Graham's analysis is made up of seven case studies of Obama's policy efforts, several of which are essentially couplets: the short-term response to the Great Recession and also long-term economic planning, Obamacare's legislative journey and also its troubled impleme

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