January 20, 2017
Many in the media have a heavy heart now that the day has finally arrived for President Obama to exit the White House and make way for President-elect Trump.
The swooning praise has been repeated in left-wing editorial column’s around the country. “The contrast with President Obama’s incumbency and personal demeanor could not be more vivid or less encouraging,” the New York Times said in an editorial published Thursday night. The paper wistfully recalled Obama’s final press conference Wednesday as “a study in the sort of intelligent public speaking on complex issues that has characterized his eight years of scandal-free governance.”
Rembert Browne of New York magazine reflected on the Obama years, writing Thursday that he is “one of the most capable public figures that the United States has ever seen. In some ways, he is the greatest actor of the past eight years. He can bury himself in a role like Daniel Day-Lewis. He can orate and inspire like Martin Luther King Jr. … He’s what we all want to be: good at everything.”
During his press conference this week, Obama vowed not to be a silent bystander to politics just because he’s leaving the White House. He said that should he feel America’s “core values” are being undermined, it “would be something that would merit me speaking out.”
It was a sharp departure from the previous eight years, during which former president George W. Bush made a concerted effort not to criticize his successor while he was in office. But the change was welcomed by many in the media.
“It is unlikely that he will become a firebrand out of office,” said a Times op-ed by history professor Robert Dallek on Thursday. “But to sit quietly and allow Mr. Trump to break the tradition of silence about a predecessor’s achievements and to shout his intentions to tear apart everything he holds dear is a challenge to political combat that Mr. Obama cannot — and should not — ignore.”
New Yorker magazine’s John Cassidy shared the sentiment.
“This didn’t sound like the farewell of someone retiring permanently from the public sphere,” he wrote of Obama. “And that, surely, is for the good. … Given the grave danger a Trump presidency presents to the liberal values Obama embodies, it will surely only be a matter of time before he deems it necessary, once again, to make his eloquent voice heard.”
Obama gave his farewell speech in Chicago on Jan. 10. He touted his legislative achievements like the new healthcare law and thanked his supporters.
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said Americans should “hold on to the image” of Obama when he wiped away a tear from his eyes.
“For eight years we have had the privilege of seeing a black family live in the White House,” said Robinson. “I still find that hard to believe. … In their time in the White House, the Obama family expanded this nation’s idea of what it can achieve. They gave us vivid images that will never fade. We owe them heartfelt thanks for being, at all times, the classiest of class acts.”
And while watching Obama’s press conference this week, his final one before leaving office, columnist Mike Barnicle, a regular guest on MSNBC, said on Twitter, “We are going to miss this guy… just sayin’.”