Obama is so anxious to be seen as creating a legacy that he isn’t really creating one at all

More than anything, Obama’s record of executive action is a key example of how little he cares about long-lasting policies. Obama’s strategy here is to refuse to negotiate with Republicans on an issue, blame them for the stalemate, then heroically proclaim he is going to transcend “party politics” and do what’s “right.” He then proceeds to bypass Congress with an executive order that will only last so long as he, or someone from his party who agrees with him, is in power. His two major executive actions, on immigration and gun control, play well to his media admirers but not to American voters in general.

Unlike Lyndon B. Johnson who, for better or for worse, created long-lasting social programs, Obama is the master of the quick fix. He’s looking for that big headline, that big press announcement, that sound bite.

So long as he can say, technically, “I brokered a nuclear deal with Iran,” he doesn’t care how long that deal lasts, what it really achieves, or what instability will follow in its wake. He can, for the rest of his life, say those seven words. He wants to claim personal and political victory even if it’s shoddily done and won’t last. While LBJ was looking out for future generations, Obama is looking out for himself.

It’s not that the things Obama has done won’t have lasting ripple effects, possibly for generations to come. Nor has he achieved no long-term goals (see Michael Grunwald’s article in Politico for a detailed look). It’s that his most signature policy achievements are achievements in name only.