This is a confession.
In 48 hours Barack Obama will no longer be our president. Will we ever have another president in our lifetime like him? How lucky–how blessed–I feel to have witnessed a president of his caliber. Where will we find another candidate with his intelligence, sense of humor, energy, good judgment, and thick skin? Where will we find someone with his commitment to fairness, compassion, and justice? More than once I have thought that we did not deserve such a person. Many times I feared he would not make it to the end of his term and would be taken from us like John Kennedy was. He was just too good, more than we could have hoped for.
I also know that while many feel the way I do, he is hated and despised by many others. Our country is divided pretty much down the middle, and the next person to sit in the Oval Office will be about as different from Obama as any two people could be. Perhaps this is just the way the world is. You are not going to get two presidents like Obama in a row. That is asking too much. (But who would have predicted whom we would get?)
The pundits are now weighing in on his presidency and assessing his legacy. Some on the left complain that he could have done much more for poor people and for minorities and for the cause of economic fairness and should have gotten us out of the Middle East wars completely. Some on the right complain that he overstepped with his executive orders on the environment and social policy and that he should have taken much bolder military action in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. They still remain vehemently opposed to what he tried to do in reshaping health care, business regulations, the environment and criminal justice. Some in the middle complain of his aloofness and failure to reach out to Republicans. While I concede that much unfinished business remains—and Mr. Trump, sadly, will likely destroy much of his legacy—he played the hand he was dealt about as well as anyone could. The Republican Congress never gave him an inch.
Just as important as what he did and said in office was how he conducted himself. It is about who he was as a human being. He was a loving father and husband, who regularly expressed his devotion and love for his family and always made his family a high priority. He was a president with extraordinary integrity and strong ethics. He never gave up fighting for what he believed was best for the country or became cynical. His administration was scandal free. He was a role model for many. In short, for me he was an inspiration.
History will ultimately be the judge. History will be kind to Barack Obama.
So when times get really tough over the next four or more years, just think about Obama and how great he was as our president–certainly for me the greatest in my lifetime. For this I rejoice. For this I am thankful.