Wednesday, January 11, 2017


President Obama has given his final speech in Chicago, where it all began eight years ago.  His words were cautionary but he sounded confident that history was on his side..  The emotion and the clairvoyance loomed large over the rhetoric. The awareness of the incoming gap with the style (?) to come after January 20th was painful for all to experience.

Obama remains at the same time an oracle and an enigma.  Like no other, he has the talent to create an epic tableau of the great American saga. The arc between the early Constitution times and today's hazards was treated in visionary terms. His warnings regarding the pitfalls which could threaten the American democratic fabric in the near future were all too clear.  At the same time the man remained his distant self, as if the words and ideas he generates are given a life of their own. He appears as though wanting to give them a chance without imposing ownership.

This gifted man often looks to be checking his emotions as much as he can and almost obsessed with form and composure. Hence his presidency was one of class, while at the same time feeling the need to build bridges with today's culture, technology and social media. This private, often aloof looking president was probably the ultimate equalizer and social explorer.

His overall record remains nevertheless ambiguous, mostly in foreign affairs. He seldom achieved a real partnership with his peers. It becomes tiresome to return to the usual question marks. He was not willing to take over the leadership when he felt that it might involve a "clean up" operation which he found messy and beyond the accepted rule of correct international behavior.  Hence to the opposite, he was hyper-active in larger "open space issues" like the battle against Ebola, climate change, or in nuclear non-proliferation.  His distaste for murky situations allowed others, mainly Russia and China, to appropriate the more creepy, unappealing gaps. 

His contrat social  with America is already under attack from the Trump Republicans. Their torched-earth strategy might backfire when Americans experience that they are left with a piece of land wherein nothing grows.

Washington, D.C. is not Salem, yet.  The unfocused president-elect is dangerous, less because of his intellect--of which there is little--than because of his immature uncontrollable narcissism, of which there is too much.  After the years of "cool" we enter the years of "tweet".

President Obama will be missed.  He was a man of manners in a world which has lost its good breeding.  He was an enlightened family man who together, on equal footing with the First Lady, was able to project the liberal agenda convictions of a formidable married team. 

January 20th will be a cold, surreal day . There will be a winner by votes (Mrs. Clinton), a winner by aberration (President-elect Trump) and a winner by points (President Obama).  Bundle up and fasten the seat-belts.

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