If Tuesday night’s address was his last to the American people, President Barack Obama left on a high note.
It was a speech that was as notable for the ideas it expressed, as much for what was left unsaid.
What could have been a litany of victories won and excuses for battles lost — surely there was a little of both — Obama exited the world stage with the same message upon which he entered it eight years ago: Hope.
At 50 minutes it was the longest farewell speech in modern history, by a long shot.
But in that 50 minutes he neither ridiculed nor belittled anybody, including his successor. Instead, he was gracious and he was inclusive.
He was, in a word, presidential.
Obama knows he will likely see some of his hardest fought initiatives overturned in the coming year. And certainly, some of his last-minute initiatives will prove a barrier to Alaska’s economic future unless they are overturned.
But beyond his policies, which are worthy of healthy debate, Barack Obama’s love of country should be recognized without challenge.
As our country’s first African American president, he shouldered expectations immeasurable to anyone not of color.
A week from Friday, America will swear in a new Commander in Chief, and we have no less hope for his success.
In some ways we’re replacing a seasoned diplomat with a street fighter, and maybe that’s what America needs right now.
Some thought we’d never survive the Obama administration, just as many don’t believe we’ll survive a Trump administration.
But we did, and we will.
That too was Barack Obama’s message Tuesday night.
It’s impossible to know how history will rank this outgoing president. But we know Barrack Obama’s America is a place where a mixed race kid from humble beginnings can have the audacity to believe he can reach the highest office in America as easily as a child of privilege.
That part of his legacy, perhaps the most important part, is now a permanent chapter of the American story.
John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.