Every President is said to leave behind a legacy when they vacate the White House. It is usually the most memorable thing about their presidency, whether it be a policy, a personal issue, or some other anecdote that sticks in people's mind. Whatever it is, a President's legacy tends to define them to history and is usually one of the two things remembered of them, aside from their name.
For Bush Jr., it's probably the wars and certainly 9/11. For Clinton, it was Lewinsky. Looking further back, it's easier to pick out what each President's legacy was. Lincoln's was abolishing slavery. FDR was the New Deal. Washington's legacy is being our first President.
So what will Obama's be? I suppose that depends. If his health care law sticks around, that could be it. If he somehow is able to put together a plan that gets enacted by Congress to help the economy, that could be it. However, I think that Obama's legacy will end up being his proficiency at dispatching with terrorists and dictators.
Since Obama has taken office, we've seen global uprising that resulted in several dictators being thrown out of power. Obama himself has ordered strikes that took out bin Laden and Anwar Al Awlaki. Now, he has "presided" over the death of Muammar Gaddafi, who had become the new face of dictatorship. All in all, a very impressive job.
Immediately after taking office, Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Many people critcized this, and perhaps rightly so. After all, Obama had done nothing yet to promote peace in the world, it had merely been a talking point of his campaign. Similar criticism can be made for the fact that Obama has not ended any wars, but has sent troops to various additional areas around the world to help quell fighting between governments and militant rebels. When looked at from that context, Obama has done the opposite of promoting peace.
However, looking at how Obama has injected America into certain fights, and how he has operated in the Middle East, shows that he truly is peace-driven. He has reduced the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has used our nation's military, but in ways that have led very quickly to the overthrow of tyrants and the establishment of Democracies, or something approaching Democracy. Obama's strategy of limited but effective military seems to be paying off.
The thing that makes all of this even better is that Obama is much more humble that GWB was when he accomplishes something (this is true all around, not just on terrorism issues). Obama doesn't pat himself on the back for cameras, he doesn't praise his own policies, he lets his policies speak for themselves. Mostly, his anti-terrorism policies seem to be working very well.
Even if Obama is a one-term President and is painted by his opponents as a failure, he will always be remembered as a President who was tough on terrorism and dictators. He will always be the President who presided over the death of bin Laden, of al Awlaki, and Gaddafi. He will be the President that envisioned peace, and took steps to make it happen.
Looking at it that way, perhaps Obama deserved the Peace prize after all.