Why Barack Obama's Presidency Failed

Ryan Streeter, National Interest --

Barack Obama’s farewell address to the nation was both familiar and discordant. It was familiar because of the elevated rhetoric reminiscent of his 2008 campaign. It was discordant because of a fundamental disconnection from present reality.

The address was what his admirers have come to expect: a soaring speech that ties America’s founding principles to today’s challenges. He spoke of “a radical idea” that America’s founders put forward “to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, and toil, and imagination . . . to achieve a common good, a greater good.” He cited America’s founders as examples of compromise and equal treatment.

In a tribute to the American democratic way of life, he said—amidst some boos—that he would oversee an orderly transition of power to the incoming Trump administration, just as the Bush administration had done for him.

And his touching praise of his wife and daughters embodied what so many people admire about Barack Obama: he is an exemplary husband and father who has not let the altitude of high office distract him from his primary obligations.

But the speech was discordant in its notable detachment from current history. Donald Trump won the presidency during a period in which the president’s party has suffered troubling losses in state legislatures, governors’ mansions and Congress. Across the country, Americans have repeatedly rejected a progressive agenda they regard as more ideological than aspirational.

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