On Tuesday night, President Obama delivered his “farewell address” to the nation, speaking from his hometown of Chicago to a large crowd of supporters. The content of the speech was generally filled with references to his achievements during the last eight years, but also with a push for progressive political change after he leaves office.

CNN offers a recap:

Popular but politically humbled, President Barack Obama said goodbye to the nation Tuesday night, declaring during his farewell address that he hasn’t abandoned his vision of progressive change but warning that it now comes with a new set of caveats.

His voice at moments catching with emotion, Obama recounted a presidency that saw setbacks as well as successes. Admitting candidly that political discourse has soured under his watch, Obama demanded that Americans renew efforts at reconciliation.

“It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy,” the President said. “To embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.”

Obama also stressed solidarity despite a presidency sometimes at odds with Congress.

“Democracy does not require uniformity,” Obama said. “Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”

As far as farewell speeches go, President Obama’s was the longest in recent history – by far:

Clinton spoke for 7 minutes, 25 seconds; Reagan spoke for 20 minutes, 42 seconds; and George W. Bush spoke for 13 minutes, 7 seconds. Obama spoke for 51 minutes, 10 seconds, nearly 10 minutes longer that the other three put together.

Obama also broke from the tradition of delivering his final speech from the White House. Clinton and Reagan both spoke from the Oval Office, and George W. Bush spoke in front of a small audience in the White House East Room; the Obama administration distributed public tickets for his speech at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago.

It is noteworthy to me that the President decided to speak from his hometown of Chicago rather than from within the White House. He’s down to just a few days left, you might think he’d want to savor this time by giving one more speech to the nation in the Commander-in-Chief setting.

With President Obama leaving town, and a new administration ready to take the helm, what can be said of the Obama era? With President Bush, people largely think of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Iraq War, and perhaps the housing collapse in 2008. With President Obama, what are his achievements and failures that will stand out in the history books from your perspective?

The New York Times offers a transcript of his farewell speech in case you missed it.

20 COMMENTS

  1. That freedom and basic human rights still matter. That democracy is still possible and that people are essentially good despite the current election result contradicting that. That guaranteed basic healthcare is an essential part of any civilized society. That everyone makes up this country, not just bigots, racists and misogynists that have marred the current election. That change for the better is possible and must be fought hard for. That love, equality and human rights will triumph over hate, bigotry and division. And the ineptitude and gross failures of Trump will ensure that democracy and freedom will once again matter. It is merely a matter of time before sanity is restored once again after the current despot is removed.

    • You are as delusional as is Obama. Here he is speaking of his legacy, when he should be speaking of his gross failures.

      The only hatred I am seeing at this point in time, is in your writing. Before condemning Trump, first at least let him take office. Lord knows he can’t do any worse than Obama did.

        • Let’s start off with a big one and that is making the US a laughingstock among nations. Do you remember the LINE IN THE SAND? There also is the fact that instead of bringing whites and blacks closer, the first black president widened the gap between the races.

          There are many more failures on Obama’s part and you know it. There are over 1,000 Democratic politicians at all levels of government who are unemployed, all during Obama’s watch. You are right, he was a resounding success, a success for Republicans.?

          • Actually, the “line in the sand” is BS.

            If you look at the text of the press conference where that came up, the issue was chemical weapons. Obama said that if there was MASSIVE use of chemical weapons, or if those weapons were to be transferred to terrorists, that would change his outlook. That was the only issue. The revisionism about it since is disgusting.

            There was no such massive use, nor transfer. In fact, the “transfer” was to get them OUT of Syria. Success.

            • Really, it wasn’t a veiled threat against the Assad regime about using chemical weapons on his own people? If it was, he did and Obama did nothing about it, causing IMHO the US to lose face.

            • No. It wasn’t. I watched that press conference. It was about a totally different topic. Only at the end did someone ask about chemical weapons. Obama’s response was that he doesn’t think we should become involved in Syria, but that might change if a “whole bunch” of chemical weapons were used at once–or if Assad tried to transfer the chemical weapons to terrorists. That was all the “red line” was about. Since then, the media has built it into some kind of ultimatum, which is total BS.

              The real error Obama made was by saying that “Assad must go.” A leader of one country should not say that about another–unless that leader wants to use military force.

              Once ISIS (“Islamic State in Syria”) formed, we should have met with Russia and supported them in putting Syria back together.

              Al Qaeda became powerful because we hired them to kick the Russians out of Afghanistan. And ISIS grew because we (a) overthrew Saddam, and (b) encouraged the overthrow of Assad.

            • I’m not sure why that’s relevant here, but what I say is that if it were not being referred to as “Obamacare,” the emphasis would be on improving the ACA, not repealing it and then putting most of it back in place. Primarily, Republicans want to remove the nickname.

    • Division is exactly what Obama caused more than any president in recent memory. Trump will heal that division. It won’t be eady as Obama failured horribly especially in the race relations field.

      Yes, the bigots and racists are now leaving the white house. That is something you, and the other Hollywood bed wetters, can’t understand.

      Trump will succeed. He started out by obtaining jobs and he’s not even president. Today he put fake news outlets like CNN in their place. Those news organizations totally embarrassed themselves.

      Fake news outlets have always been able to fool people like yourself. You gravel at the feet of the Hollywood elite who don’t have a clue about the rest of the American people.

      • Bigots and racists leaving? Trump only just got in. I wish he was leaving, but we can live in hope for that.

        How typical of Republicans to attempt to label firm evidence and facts as fake, yet have been peddling falsehoods for years about Clinton and Obama. The hypocrisy is truly astounding.

        Americans won’t tolerate this obnoxious, inept, ineloquent, racist, misogynist despot for long. He is either going to be ineffectual at best or destructively effective at worst. He will prove himself either a failure and a liar or a thoroughly harmful despot. Either way, he loses. As does America. Won’t be long until he is removed from office and we get a decent human being back at the helm.

        • Ineffectual at best or destructive lying effective at worst. You just described O’Bugger to a tee. I wonder will that be the title of his memoirs??

          • By O’Bugger, I take it you are referring to the president of the United States. Such a vulgarity speaks volumes about you. Would you actually read his memoirs or was that just more smoke?
            You appear to be very good at hurling accusations but very lacking in factual data.
            So what actual facts did you have to say “Ineffectual at best” and “destructive lying effective at worst” described President Obama
            I am ready to listen

            • Let’s start off with a big one and that is making the US a laughingstock among nations. Do you remember the LINE IN THE SAND? There also is the fact that instead of bringing whites and blacks closer, the first black president widened the gap between the races.

            • Evidently you didn’t read Goethe’s post. He clearly explained there was no line in the sand and the results of Presidential actions. Yet, you are still committed to posting these Hannity/Limbaugh fantasies.
              Black Lives Matter has been under FBI surveillance since it’s inception and not on the official terrorist list yet. Political dissent and protest are not crimes; neither are they terrorist activities. Racial inequality is not a trendy issue; it is an entrenched issue.
              You’re right, we will soon have a new president. No doubt we will all be in for a surprise

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