President Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, 2017. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)
Approval rating: 43%*
Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 24/22*
Major successes: Neil Gorsuch confirmed for Supreme Court; some Obama-era regulations repealed
Major setbacks: Proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act withdrawn from House; immigration orders blocked by federal courts; national security adviser Michael Flynn forced to resign
Of note: FBI confirmed investigation into whether Trump associates colluded with Russian meddling in election
Barack Obama (2009)
President Barack Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009. (Photo: Tim Sloan, AFP/Getty Images)
Approval rating: 65%
Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 190/69
Major successes: Stimulus bill passed; children’s health care expanded; equal-pay protections bolstered; federal ban on embryonic stem-cell research lifted
Major setbacks: Nominee for key role of Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Daschle, forced to withdraw
Of note: Stock market bottomed out in March, a sign that the end of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression was in sight
George W. Bush (2001)
President Bush speaks to newly sworn-in White House staff members in an East Room ceremony on Jan. 22, 2001. (Photo: H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)
Approval rating: 62%
Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 85/35
Major successes: House passed tax proposal, eventually signed in June, to slash income tax rates
Major setbacks: Failed to act on a blue-ribbon commission report urging changes in homeland security or on warning signs before the terror attacks on New York and Washington that would follow in September
Of note: U.S. spy plane flying over the South China Sea clipped by Chinese fighter jet and forced to land on Chinese soil
Bill Clinton (1993)
President Bill Clinton is sworn in on Jan. 20, 1993. (Photo: Ed Reinke, AP)
Approval rating: 55%
Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 176/49
Major successes: Family and Medical Leave Act signed
Major setbacks: Furors over gays in the military, firing of White House travel office staffers
Of note: Hillary Rodham Clinton put in charge of signature health care overhaul, which eventually would fail.
George H.W. Bush (1989)
President George H.W. Bush is sworn into office on Jan. 20, 1989. (Photo: Bob Daugherty, AP)
Approval rating: 56%
Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 95/50
Major successes: Submitted plan to bail out troubled savings and loans, eventually signed in August
Major setbacks: Nominee for Defense secretary, Texas Sen. John Tower, rejected by Senate
Of note: Worst oil spill on U.S. territory in history when Exxon Valdez supertanker ran aground in Alaska
Ronald Reagan (1981)
President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office on Jan. 20, 1981. (Photo: Barry Thumma, AP)
Approval rating: 68%
Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 128/80
Major successes: Proposed major cuts in taxes and domestic spending and an increase in military spending; Iran released U.S. hostages as he was inaugurated
Major setbacks: Fragility in the economy, which would head into recession in July
Of note: Survived assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr.
Sources: Gallup Poll; Partnership for Public Service; USA TODAY research by Susan Page
How do you think history will remember Hillary Clinton?
She is the first woman to be a major party nominee for President; one of just five Americans in history to lose a Presidential election despite winning the popular vote; had the highest margin of victory in the popular vote of any losing Presidential candidate; more voters cast their ballot for her than every other Presidential candidate in American history – winning or losing – besides Barack Obama. She’s also one of the most prominent Secretaries of State in American history and visited more countries than any other Secretary of State.
Hillary Clinton is also arguably the most influential First Lady in history. She’s the only First Lady to run for office and win elections in her own right. As a U.S. Senator from New York she was popular with her constituents and highly-respected on both sides of the aisle (yes, really) during her time in Congress. As First Lady she was President Clinton’s most valued adviser and political strategist. If not for what she brought to their partnership, it’s doubtful that Bill Clinton could have even won the 1992 election.
And, of course, she has an entire body of work in the first half of her life that was completely unrelated to who she was married to. Hillary was a powerful lawyer, talented political strategist, energetic activist, and a tireless advocate, particularly on behalf of children.
I don’t know for sure what the final judgment of Hillary Clinton’s legacy will be, but she’s undoubtedly one of the most important women in American history and one of the most prominent and influential political figures of the past half-century. Those who suggest that Hillary’s ultimate legacy will be as the person who lost the 2016 election and put Donald Trump in the White House are flat-out wrong. She was the person who stood strong against him in the midst of an unprecedented political storm, no matter what mistakes might have been made by her or her campaign during the 2016 election cycle. Hillary Clinton didn’t elect Donald Trump as the President of the United States; the American people did. Her legacy shouldn’t be tainted by the poor choices of the American electorate and the consequences of those choices. She should be remembered for the path that she blazed for those who followed her in public service.