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(“As a general proposition, it’s hard to run for president by telling people how terrible things are,” Obama once said to me.)But if the president’s inability to cement his legacy in the form of Hillary Clinton proved the limits of his optimism, it also revealed the exceptional nature of his presidential victories.For eight years Barack Obama walked on ice and never fell. I was always inappropriately dressed, and inappropriately calibrated in tone: In one instance, I was too deferential; in another, too bellicose.
It is said that Obama speaks “professorially,” a fact that understates the quickness and agility of his mind.That young naval lieutenant was an imperial agent for a failed, immoral war. In 2004, John Kerry did not win a single southern state. Over the next 12 years, I came to regard Obama as a skilled politician, a deeply moral human being, and one of the greatest presidents in American history.But Obama appealed to a belief in innocence—in particular a white innocence—that ascribed the country’s historical errors more to misunderstanding and the work of a small cabal than to any deliberate malevolence or widespread racism. He was phenomenal—the most agile interpreter and navigator of the color line I had ever seen.of President Barack Obama’s administration, he and his wife, Michelle, hosted a farewell party, the full import of which no one could then grasp.It was late October, Friday the 21st, and the president had spent many of the previous weeks, as he would spend the two subsequent weeks, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. Polls in the crucial states of Virginia and Pennsylvania showed Clinton with solid advantages.The people in these lines were, in the main, black, and their humor reflected it.
The brisker queue was dubbed the “good-hair line” by one guest, and there was laughter at the prospect of the Secret Service subjecting us all to a “brown-paper-bag test.” This did not come to pass, but security was tight.
Several guests were told to stand in a makeshift pen and wait to have their backgrounds checked a second time.
Listen to the audio version of this article:, I went to the White House to meet the president for lunch.
The formidable GOP strongholds of Georgia and Texas were said to be under threat. He had been light on his feet in these last few weeks, cracking jokes at the expense of Republican opponents and laughing off hecklers. Then he flashed the smile that had launched America’s first black presidency, and started dancing again.
At a rally in Orlando on October 28, he greeted a student who would be introducing him by dancing toward her and then noting that the song playing over the loudspeakers—the Gap Band’s “Outstanding”—was older than she was. Three months still remained before Inauguration Day, but staffers had already begun to count down the days.
This assessment was born out of the president’s innate optimism and unwavering faith in the ultimate wisdom of the American people—the same traits that had propelled his unlikely five-year ascent from assemblyman in the Illinois state legislature to U. He addressed himself to his “fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, independents,” all of whom, he insisted, were more united than they had been led to believe.