Mr. Obama will go off to do something else, but he leaves behind a country littered with public and private institutions in disrepute. Whatever the cumulative causes for this, a president bears responsibility for maintaining some bedrock level of respect for institutions that are the necessary machinery of the nation’s daily life.
Instead, Mr. Obama spent much of his presidency vilifying the private sector—banks, insurers, energy producers and utilities.
The public’s low opinion of Congress is well known, but consider: The Pew study reports the favorable rating for the Department of Justice is just 46%. That not half the country respects something called the Justice Department is a travesty.
Mr. Obama has repeatedly mocked institutions he didn’t control and abused the powers of those he did. Almost always, the ridicule and condescension came in front of cheering audiences. It’s hardly a surprise that Donald Trump is exploiting and expanding the loss of public faith. Mr. Obama spent seven years softening up Mr. Trump’s audiences for him.
We may get a third Obama term after all.