Missing Barack Obama Already

For eight years, the president and his family have set an impeccable example, for which we’ll soon feel nostalgia.

Comments: 195

  1. Yes, I do miss Obama already. He is everything that Trump isnn"t. I am afraid for my country, for Americans, for my family and the world. I think many of Obama's enemies will come to miss him, if for no other reason than knowing he and his administration were always on duty. And so, President Obama, God speed to you and your family. Thanks for your time, effort and devotion to this job.

  2. And yet my perception is that Obama is the most divisive president we have ever witnessed, and he used his power to go after his political enemies (See IRS and DOJ). Largely ineffective on the world stage, he will soon be forgotten. He is the definition of a wasted opportunity, and his unilateral edicts will be erased in short order.

  3. G,
    He'll be forgotten by you and that's fine. The 444 people who liked this post won't forget. The 20 million people who have health care because of his efforts won't forget him either and they' ll remember him more when it's ripped away from them.

  4. I’d be among the first to praise the Obamas’ conduct of their lives and he the decency brought to the presidency. But while that’s not trivial, it’s not why we elect presidents: mostly, we elect them to do something productive. People can argue why that didn’t happen over eight years, but it’s not much of a legacy if the first thing successors want to do is unravel it, such as it is. And it’s not a ringing endorsement of his stewardship of the Democratic Party that those successors possess undivided government and CAN.

    I’d also be among the first to point out that wistfulness for a departed president, plus $10, can buy you a Donald Trump Pez dispenser on Amazon. I won’t miss Barack Obama for a LONG time.

  5. Was Obama better than W?

    It truly is amazing that you think Obama did nothing in 8 years.

    Especially since you are quite aware of the extent of the financial crisis Obama inherited, along with the two wars.

    You cannot bring yourself to be objective even one tiny bit.

    Orwellian does not even begin to describe your comment.

  6. I agree with one thing you wrote, Mr. L. No one, not a single voter, cast a ballot for Trump because he is a good family man free of scandal.

  7. R. Luetggen: Can't think why you commented on this kudo to our President ....
    It defys logic, but I guess you get another chance to deny the productivity and
    work done by the administration despite the obstruction and disrespect Obama
    received. Do you ever look at the facts? The only one who wants to unravel this
    president' legacy is an idiot, Trump, who obviously hasn't a clue. And as we sit in
    disbelief as he , Trump, selects the worst group of people we have ever seen to
    serve his administration, it only confirms the fear and trembling most of us - yes,
    a majority of us - have over this Trump excuse for a President. Legacy indeed!

  8. One of the costs of America losing its ' soft power ' under DJT will be the western world will no longer look upon us as a dependable leader - they will look to a group of countries instead of a single lead country.

    Regarding the loss of Dem governorships/legislative seats in the O. years, David Leonhardt showed this week those losses are about average for all 2-term POTUSes since WWII:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/16/opinion/a-new-take-on-democrats-obama...?

    Besides, if that GOP'er talking point is going to be trotted out, it can't be glossed over that in 2016 GOP'ers lost House seats, lost Senate seats, and lost the popular vote for POTUS by a margin some 600% higher than any previous POTUS has lost the popular vote.

    And GOP'ers also lost state legislative seats even in red states like Arizona, where re-districting lines were drawn by independent commissions instead of by GOP'er leaning legislatures. In Arizona, Dems increased their share of the state legislature by almost 10%, and other states would likely do the same, judging from the popular vote for POTUS, as more states follow Arizona's re-districting efforts, which GOP'ers fought and fought all the way to the Supreme Court, but lost:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/us/politics/supreme-court-upholds-ari...

  9. On Syria, Pres. Obama has been ham-strung by GOP'ers who threatened in 2013 to impeach him were he to intervene and try to enforce a ' red line ' there:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2013/09/06/mccain-o...

    Since that time, House GOP'ers have refused to even call a vote on the authorization to use military force in Syria, preferring to instead make Syria a political football, while the untold numbers of refugees have de-stabilized much of Europe.

    The cynical GOP'er political calculations that have allowed such human misery and disruption in post-WWII Europe over the last 3+ years shouldn't be allowed to be flushed down the memory hole, nor blame transferred to a POTUS they labored long and hard to ham-string.

  10. One would think that getting healthcare for tens of millions of citizens and saving many lives would be a productive accomplishment.

    But as my fellow comment person Richard so aptly describes, the degree of willful ignorance on the part of the far right is truly mind-blowing.

    Obama faced an economy in tatters; a nation at war in 2 countries; a stock market in free-fall; double-digit unemployment; record foreclosures; our auto industry on life-support.

    Given the state of the union 8 years ago, how can anyone without a shred of decency or a respect for history not say that Obama was a better-than-average president?

    The hatred Obama faced, most evident when he tried to give a speech via closed-circuit television to our schoolchildren and was stopped by his enemies, along with the vile insinuations regarding his birth and religion, underscore the difficulties the man had to endure.

    There never has been, nor will there ever be, a president who will I be in agreement with on every issue.

    Obama deserves to be in the top tier of presidents.

    The haters now have their man poised to take the oath of office.

    God help the United States of America.

  11. The haters and greedy have won.
    God help us.

  12. Amen, Kevin. Right on.

  13. 18 million on Obamacare, 84% of these are on medicaid. Obamacare is a failure, and will soon be gone. Obama is happy that it will disappear because it will otherwise implode and it will be his to own for eternity. He should thank President Trump for putting it out of our misery

  14. One wonders, Mr. Kristof, what those who have crucified him for eight years, those who self-righteously drew the non-existent line of moral purity and rectitude in the national sand--the "evangelical Christians" and the Congressional Right--may be thinking right about now. Tomorrow America will witness the inauguration of a new president--one truly undeserving of the title but, nonetheless, embodies "the will of the people." Talk of polar opposites.

    I remain amazed that President Obama's integrity, the genuine humility and generosity with which he clothed his office were interpreted as liabilities by a hostile political party and a right-wing media that swapped gentlemanly disagreement for treason. He could do no good at all; the long knives were out after the West Coast states gave him the White House keys back on Nov. 8, 2008.

    I personally have no idea what the scandal-mongers were looking for. The first lady comported herself with warmth and grace. Their two lovely girls, Malia and Sasha, remained curiosities without the first fires of impropriety gaining a headwind, a nearly impossible feat for two small girls growing into comely youth and beauty under the harshest light imaginable. What can have been their thoughts these past eight years to see and hear the contumely that was their father's daily portion?

    A fickle country is about to awaken from a restful slumber to a storm-tossed tempest that shakes the house. Missing Obama? You bet, and I, like you, won't be alone.

  15. Mr. Kristof, I totally agree with your assessment that the country will yearn for President Obama more than people realize. But, if Americans "want their children and the world's to admire our president", why did they elect the 44th president's polar opposite to succeed him in the Oval Office? There are signs that already the country is souring on the president-elect's combative and divisive nature and his ignorance in understanding the policies and procedures of American governance. He has destroyed the goodwill that the country bestows on the election winner in its hope for the promise of better things to come under the next president. The honeymoon and the country's infatuation with the 45th president is over.

    The Republican party and their legions will highlight President Obama's failures in office, something they've been doing during the last eight years. They magnify his errors and mistakes simply because he is black. His election was an affront to the traditional American order even though his personal comportment was beyond reproach. He and his wonderful family were reviled in the foulest manner by not only common citizens but elected officials as well.

    The incoming president, encouraged by his party, will do everything in their power to wash away the stain of Barack Obama's presidency. But, they will never see the day when the 45th president will be the equal of President Obama. I'm missing him already.

  16. The only signs of Trump rejection are in the biased press and the big cities. The overwhelming geographical majority of America wants Trump, and will celebrate tomorrow when leftist Obama is GONE

  17. The Obamas are admirable and even more so compared to this deplorable creature and his family about to take power—whose personal failings will furnish endless easy copy for columnists for years. But we need much more than admirable personal qualities to restore America to an equal and just society. And we need much more than centrist democrats.

    Obama after his office, may actually be freed up to do more good for the country.

    So why do you journalists “overdo the personal and pay insufficient attention to policies?” Why write this column---more about polls and personalities? Admirable as Barack, Michelle and kids are, I’m already sick of hearing about them as our country slides into peril.

    I feel like we’re being sold a public relations campaign to revere Obama---nothing like contrast to push media drama--- and it’s too much now. Sure he’s way better than the Gop and even many democrats, but alright already.

    We deserve much more than a scandal free president. Now he wears a halo, but there’s plenty of pros/cons policy wise. Let’s get real.

  18. I am so glad that this extraordinary man took every opportunity since the election to demonstrate such a high regard for the office, especially in his gracious and immediate acceptance of Trump as his successor. At each public opportunity, he has been a model statesmanship and deported himself with honor and dignity, even as the president elect behaved with such immaturity and overt indignity. We could not have selected a more polar opposite as president with the election of Trump, and President Obama has provided us with a high contrast and a sense of national remorse, especially since November 8.

  19. On Obama's passivity on Syria.

    If it were easy to resolve Syria, it would have been resolved already. The problem is that it isn't.

    Thanks to the politicisation of Islam everywhere over the last several decades at least, the attitudes in the middle east between Shiites, Sunnis and - let's call them "others" are quite toxic. Intervention of the Western powers in that region in the past to secure OIL has contributed to the conflicts which exist there now.

    However, further intervention from the West, (and especially from the USA which is already the scape goat of all Middle Eastern travails,) even for the "good" of the Middle Eastern citizens, isn't going to help settle the disputes between them there. Because whatever the action, the residents are going to view it as benefitting one side more then the other. And the mere fact that one side believes that the other benefits more, is enough to make the first side feel disadvantaged and conspired against.

    Stepping back, staying out of the way, providing aid to the refugees, containing the damage to the rest of the world, is probably the only thing Obama and the West can do with Syria. I can hope that those who want to fight, will fight themselves to exhaustion.

  20. All quite true, not to mention Russia was always waiting in the wings ready to complicate any American involvement with their client state.

  21. When congressional investigations confirm what we all suspect to be true re this tainted election, a movement to REVOTE will develop. This is the only thing that can pull our country out of our present tailspin.
    If that fails, all we have left is an intelligence community that may figure out a way to, " do the right thing' ".
    Hopefully, Barak has laid the groundwork for this, or other strategeries, before he hands over the keys tomorrow.

  22. He and his wife were the real cause of Hillary's defeat when Hillary was used by them to promote their legacy, thus drowning out Hillary's own ideals. I am also amazed why Hillary let them use her as their pawn in the Presidential game of chess!!! The e-mails and Russian hacking are minor issues compared to what they did for Hillary.

  23. She needed the Obama coalition to win. Look at Obama's popularity. The majority of Americans love the man and his policies.

  24. Your skewed reason for Hillary's defeat ignores the non-voters, 3rd party nihilists, and phony idealists who enabled Trump to squeak by in Pa., Michigan, and Wisconsin.

    You sound like a Sarah Palin voter, taking a parting shot at a man you always hated.

  25. Agreed. Obama: the very best in leadership, Trump: looks to be the very worst. March on Saturday.

  26. I am uncomfortable with the emphasis on Obama as a family man. It only feeds into American Puritanism, lack of a broad historical vision, and anti-intellectualism. Obama was a sane, moderate and cautious president. This is enough to cement his legacy in a world out of kilter. I did not support all of his foreign policies but all in all, he has been successful in navigating the turbulent waters of globalization. Now we are going to have a president eager to destabilize the world with a single tweet. In comparison to the possibility of war, Obama's family life is of no consequence. If the roles were reversed, and Obama were a thrice-married father of five, and Trump a model of private rectitude, it would not change my political affiliation. The only way in which Obama as a man is important to me is not in his being a good husband and father but in being an intellectual. His intelligence, erudition and love of reading are the primary reasons for the venomous hatred for him felt by the ignorant rabble who voted for Trump (of course the color of his skin did not help).

  27. If Obama were the thrice married father of five, he would never have been elected.

  28. Agree entirely. It's as silly as denigrating Melania Trump for having posed nude. Who cares? We liberals can't say "a woman's body is her own to do as she pleases" and "slut shaming must stop" and then spit on her because she doesn't carry herself like Jacquie Kennedy. Let's all stick to the issues at hand. Obama did a good job with the economy and many other issues, and yes he is intelligent; Trump has no concrete and realistic plans for anything and can barely put a sentence together.

  29. It's too soon to paint such a brilliant portrait of the Obama family and administration.

    Once the Obama's have left office tomorrow, any self censorship by the press will be null and void allowing journalists of all stripes to come forward with a more fleshed out portrait. Anyone who does not believe in or is aware of press self censorship is missing a major ingredient in the American experience.

    There is a plethora of information about the Obamas on the Internet which may be a combination of fake news and something more real. Let's give time a chance to pass by and release a more complete picture!

  30. The focus on Obama as an individual has been a problem, and his adversaries has led this effort to make everything subjective, everything personal. With the 45th president, however, his adversaries desires nothing but a focus on policies, but the president-elect is holding everyone hostage with his rants and Twitter-stream-of-consciousness. It's a Stockholm syndrome for 320 million people or perhaps the world.

  31. Indeed.
    We face a new administration poised to transfer wealth to the upper 1%--
    with a dangerorus uncertainty in foreign policy marked by Trump's erratic, contradictory, impulsive tweets + rhetoric.
    His cabinet picks a mess of self interest + intent to weaken agencies they would head. Not inspiring confidence...
    His party's number one goal to take away your health insurance even if markets are disrupted + lives destroyed.
    And meddle with your Social Security + Medicare as soon as possible.

    We depart from a calm, thoughtful President Obama + an administration that almost by every measure improved our lot:
    record growth now in middle class income, median wage increases, creation of millions of jobs, stock market practically tripled-- record high stock market indices across the board, energy prices low for consumers, home prices a plus, health insurance expanded, strong car sales, inflation that remained low-- even during international upheaval in Europe, Greece...investments growing for average workers, consumer/financial protections, environmental protections... + death of our troops so greatly declined.

    We face an uncertain future under a Trump administration and an all-Republican rule.
    The men who advocated and enacted a government shutdown are totally in charge. A party that did nothing for 8 years but obstruct President Obama.
    Who unfortunately has to leave.

  32. I miss Obama already too. What a wonderful President he's been for all of us. The orange buffoon, and I'm being kind, who is taking his place will be the worst president the nation has ever known, he and his cabinet of imbeciles are about to loot this country of everything it has, we're about to lose it all people. History will show what a great President Obama was. I wish him and his family happiness and health and I thank them all for being such a shining example of what we can be.

  33. I am suspicious of Charlie Rose being among those WSJ scoffers of Obama while giving Trump a pass.

  34. Obama was the wisest of our Presidents. He kept on wooing the Republicans, because he knew that if he wasn't successful they would undo all the good that he was able to accomplish while he was in office.

  35. The Republicans are in deep do do now because the majority of their constituents believe the government should ensure affordable healthcare to all its citizens They will be reduced to making a few tweaks, leaving the legislation intact and will rename the Affordable Care Act as their own. However, history will not be fooled and will see it as Obama's legacy. Thanks, President Obama.

  36. Yes, it's really sad that Obama will be leaving office, knowing that the man up for the toughest job in the world may not be up to the job. Obama came into office at a time when America was at a very low point. He rolled up his sleeve and went to work and was obstructed at every point by the GOP leadership. I feel part of the political fallout where Democrats lost seats and elections where as a result of this direct opposition from the GOP.

    President Obama for his part, I know did more for Israel than most president in our time. Yet, it is sad to see this man who did this much for Israel did not get anything in return, rather he is castigated by many in the Jewish communities. This is sad. Anybody who objectively looks at Obama's work regarding the security of Israel, I know would say yes he did right by Israel.

    When Americans look back to the Obama years, I truly believe they'll come to a conclusion that if only the GOP had played ball with this President and worked with him, this country would have been better for it. Let's hope Mr. Trump will build on what Obama had done instead of continuing the GOP assault on his legacy.

  37. His Presidency was all too conditioned by the mistakes of his predecessor, and by the willful and persistent obstruction by the opposition party he had to deal with the entire time he was in office. In that light, he should be viewed as a good President who managed to accomplish a lot in spite of a very adversarial working environment.

  38. That's what the groups targeted by the IRS said, and any journalist that ran afoul of perfect obedience to the annointed one.

  39. "Sick of Bill Clinton, we turned to a Texas governor who was utterly different."

    Well, the Supreme Court turned to him. And look how that turned out. George W Bush was utterly different as in utterly unprepared, practically and intellectually, to be president. He almost single-handedly decided to invade Iraq, "possibly the worst foreign-policy decision every made by president," according to Jean Edward Smith's fascinating biography.

    Trump makes W. look like Churchill.

    Yes, we will be missing Obama for a long, long time.

  40. Speak for yourself. I say don't let the door hit your partisan political glorified behind on the way out.

  41. Missed before leaving.

    Nobel Prize before accomplishment.

    Too much hope.

  42. Thank you for saying something I have thought. There is so much talk about dismantling Mr. Obama's "legacy." The GOP is clearly hoping to erase the man all together. Yet, his true legacy, in addition to being the first African-American President, is the man himself. That no one can erase.

    Mr. Obama has been all that you say in terms of integrity, authenticity, and intellect. He has also, though, been authentically human, weeping comfortably and showing caring anger after mass shootings; singing at times either in joy and fun or in sorrow (Amazing Grace in Charleston). He has also, at times, appropriately and maturely expressed anger at the cruelty, tragedy and inequality in our world.

    Mr. Obama has displayed a marvelous sense of humor and excellent comic timing. He has also displayed his maturity and healthy self-esteem as he made jokes at his own expense. He has been a president to clearly loved interacting with kids and cared more about their experience than his presumed "dignity" as POTUS.

    I will miss all of that - and so much more.

  43. Your remarks are beautifully states Ms. Hislop and I thank you for them. They do more to elevate my deep despair than anything else I have read.

  44. I will also miss President Obama. Eight years ago as he was coming into office and bush leaving I felt as if our country was collapsing. We invaded a country based on lies, were stuck their in a war while our economy was in free fall. If I remember right my IRA lost 1/3 of its value in a few weeks. He turned all that around and brought us back from the wreckage while expanding civil rights, climate protection etc. Now some want to go back to the macho man, in your face days of people like Bush so we got trump. How short our memory is!!

  45. Thank you Mr. Kristof. We all will miss him. We love you and your family. I wish we had you for another 8 years!

  46. Barack Obama was, and is, an honorable and decent man. Sometimes he was too cool for school and not effective as I hoped he would be. I am embarrassed by the way my nation treated him and undermined him and tried, very unsuccessfully, to humiliate him. A giant of a man if there ever was one.

    And now a slime ball. I want to go to sleep tonight and wake up in four years. But with that psycho at the helm, I'm passingly sure I'd wake up to Mad Max.

  47. You need to sleep for a generation, because America will NOT elect another liberal leftist for at least a generation

  48. For all Obama's fine personal qualities his accomplishments are even less than described here. The reason he presided over the longest economic recovery since WW II is that the rate of recovery and its magnitude at each point in time was far less than had ever happened previously. Further, the ACA, despite its benefits to the 3.8% of the population who gained insurance through it, has done severe damage to U.S. healthcare overall reallocation of caregiver and hospital effort to duplicative over-regulation and bad but mandated electronic records.

  49. The cognitive dissonance between the dignified eloquence of Barack Obama and the brutish vulgarity of Donald Trump is enormous. Barack Obama is a metaphorical laser Donald Trump is a meat cleaver. Barack Obama's uncommon combination of grace, humor, and humanity, are remarkable. He is probably the smartest person in any room he enters. This combination will result in a presidential legacy that will only grow in stature. The contrast with Donald Trump is immense. Examining successful American Presidents, the most essential quality they possess is being secure in themselves. Donald Trump's basic insecurity is manifested by his use of Twitter to respond to almost any perceived disparagement. That insecurity coupled with his manifest policy ignorance, does not portend well for our country.

  50. It's odd but the indoctrinated, like yourself, cannot recognize incompetence and failure even when readily displayed before your eyes. The fool leaves office tomorrow noon and it can't come fast enough.

  51. Dignified, right. Like when he had Paul Ryan sit right in front of hm and ragged him over about entitlement reform, Like when he said "I won, elections have consequences". Well, 1000 democrats are no longer in office, and another liberal won't get elected for a generation

  52. Smarter than anyone in any room if you except Michelle.

  53. I am already missing Obama. He did many good things for this country, especially the car industry and the banks. He saved a desperate economy, increased jobs, helped those without insurance get insurance, helped the clean air propositions.
    Obama did these things in spite of the strong headwind that he had to struggle with every day (obstructionist Republicans, make him a one term president).
    He is a fine person and I will miss him, even if he were not turning the keys of the kingdom over to the least qualified person to be president ever.
    Obama, you have been terrific and Godspeed to you and your upstanding family. You have been a fine example of someone who really cares for the little person............and that includes those angry white men that voted for an airhead.
    Thank you.

  54. First of all, let me protest the use of the term "scion" with respect to Trump. The connotation of scion is that the person is the descendant of a noble family. Trump's father was accused of profiteering and violation of civil rights, i.e. discrimination. There is nothing "noble" about that and, I seem to remember, his grandfather came illegally to the United States, fleeing German law. Trump himself is hardly a paragon of social or personal nobility, so let's use our terms appropriately.

  55. In actuality one can easily praise Mr. Obama's predecessor for the same attentiveness to family and for his having raised two bright and personable young women. What's most important is how he translated his ideals and his philosophy of life into a policy agenda for the nation. On that score our incumbent president has done exceedingly well, and it's depressing to imagine how much better still the U.S. might be faring had his "loyal opposition" been more receptive to his values and, ultimately, to his humanistic ideology. Then again, within the modern GOP the word "humanist" is tantamount to an insult- after all, if our Creator allows for royal blood, inherited wealth and exclusive golf courses as well as for hunger and poverty and disease who are we to challenge His wise and noble plan? One can blame the Russians, the Electoral College, the Alt-Right media or Hillary's tone-deaf campaign team; America has, for whatever reason, chosen to ignore the accomplishments of a good and decent man (nicely summarized by Kevin Rothstein below) and handed power over to the party of the rich and powerful and its blathering, aggrieved and indecent new leader. For the next four years we will all be reaping the whirlwind.

  56. Do you personally bear any responsibility for any events or is it everyone else's fault, so you can carp freely without fear? "Our creator" also allows free will and every misguided nitwit to speak, no matter how deficient the logic and banal the thought. I'm sure there are poor children struggling to survive that never heard of the creator or a golf course over the last eight years.They're too busy starving and dodging bullets to play golf or comment on their pet peeve.

  57. President Obama is one of the best presidents in this country's history since FDR. Kennedy did not live long enough. other presidents who followed FDR were not that great. President Reagan was more a comedian. Clinton had lot of issues
    President Obama is an intellectual, compassionate, extremely thoughtful, well versed in international affairs,well respected by many countries and this country will miss him.

  58. The stark contrast between the outgoing president and the incoming (illegitimate) president is another very telling measurement of just how divided this country is. It isn't divided just by left and right, by political ideology, but also by civility. Going out is arguably the most poised president who possesses so much grace and class in modern history, but who also possesses deep wisdom, humility, knowledge, empathy, and a soul; incoming is a man who not only possesses none of those things, but is all of the opposites of those things, and more, and worse.
    Half this country wants their president to be smarter than they are, wise, civilized, empathetic, a listener, and to act with grace, class, and humility and to be informed, while it appears from the past two Republican presidential wins that the other half of this country wants boorish, ignorant, classless, incurious authoritarian figures who go by their gut instincts and are blowhards rather than informed people. And Trump following Bush only shows that divide has widened since Bush fourfold (at least).
    We had a choice between being civilized and showing what true leadership is and being uncivilized and showing what bullying is. On Nov. 8, the Electoral College and 59 million Americans chose (once again) the latter. That depresses me to no end.

  59. Unfortunately, a chunk of this country is made up of people who admire Trump. The undereducated country bumpkins think he's great. They feast on reality TV, sports, guns, and whining. They don't read and don't care. Don't get cross ways or they will curse you out or mow you down with their truck. I live in Dallas and forget these folks exist until I venture into Garland or Mesquite or the other exurbs. They love this guy because they are just like him.

  60. It is you who's illegitimately calling a legally-elected president illegitimate.

  61. Such a spot on analysis. You should post this on Facebook so it could go viral. You have but words to how so many of us are feeling. Thank you.

  62. This is a lovely tribute to a president, and first family, many Americans will soon be badly missing. But, and it seems ungracious even to say, many of our fellow citizens did not feel the universal pride the column asserts regarding the man or his family. The case of tea parties with their hideous monkey signs and, more recently, comments made by Trump supporters about Michelle and Barack Obama--Google Obama and Clay County, W.Va., and/or Carl Paladino if you missed these noisome episodes--are evidence that many in our midst were incapable of even basic decency toward Obama and were eager to spout and share the worst of racist stereotypes to rhetorically keep him and his family in their historic place of presumed inferiority. Leaving the White House may provide the Obama family with some relief from the haters. As for the rest of us, it would be nice to think the voices of ignorance might fade, but who among us thinks that will be the case anytime soon? Trump began his long march to the presidency by helping propagate the birther lie and has helped poison the political atmosphere by railing against 'political correctness' and by modeling hate speech for his supporters. We are in the midst of what amounts to an intellectual and moral civil war between two opposing visions of the past and the future. New national voices who can act as a counterweight to Trump and his ilk are badly needed.

  63. Pride? How about results that actually made a difference in people's lives? The most affected (per data): blacks and single women, those most loyal to him - or his image. Go figure.

  64. Mostly, I want to criticize policies. I never disliked George W. Bush, although his "with us or against us" attitude showed a lack of perceptive depth. I agreed with few of his policies.

    But with Trump, I am not sure what policies to disagree with. He turns on a dime, and promises his audience whatever they want to hear. With Trump, it is hard not to get personal, because Trump makes everything personal. He is remarkably petty in his conversation and tweets - and vindictive. His speeches and tweets and quotes tend to go more vainglorious than modest, and nothing he has said indicates a thoughtful approach to complex problems.

    Yes, we will miss President Obama, who could have been accused of overthinking things. But President Obama thought before he acted; nothing Trump has said through the whole election cycle makes one believe he will study a problem before acting.

    But none of this is new. We wanted a shoot-from-the-hip guy, and we got one. We are just going to need to duck if he actually starts shooting from the hip.

  65. Yes, we will miss President Obama. On Fri evening I plain joining friends for a Wake, reviewing the many positive qualities and accomplishments of Barack Obama and his administration. My TV will be off all day and during the inauguration, I'll go for a walk on a nearby trail, or if inclement weather, visit my local library for inspiration of our Founding Fathers and check out a book on the rise of Hitler's power to see if there are comparisons to Trump's campaign to the presidency.
    Thank you President Obama

  66. Ready, fire, aim.

  67. Actually, Obama thought and then didn't act.

  68. Trump's election marks a sea change in a way journalists rarely talk about. Before Trump, Presidents were mostly readers with the written word their primary source of information. Trump, on the other hand, prefers to watch television. Both convey information, but to think TV is the equal of the written word much less superior (if a picture is worth 1000 words, after all, a picture that talks must be worth 10,000) is not unlike the person who thinks that because a rose smells better than a cabbage, it would make a superior soup. Teddy Roosevelt may have been a man of bold action, but he was also a voracious reader and the leavening of the written word made him a man whose many passions were contained and directed toward achieving peace with that strength, and conveying an America at once young and vigorous, yet learned and wise. Only when you have read enough history do you realize that it seems an endless loop presenting the same challenges over and over again. Adapt or die? Maybe. But first, read or regret. And that sense that the President, for all his human flaws and limited alternatives, is thinking and playing the long game is what I will miss most when Barack Obama leaves the White House tomorrow.

  69. President Obama leaves with a nearly 60% approval rating and I think he was right much to the consternation of Donald Trump when he said recently in a moment of candor, that if he had been allowed to run for a third term, he could have defeated Donald Trump.

    You are right, Americans tend to separate the personal from policies and no doubt, they will become nostalgic about President Obama when Trump appears to resort to the "madman theory" of conducting foreign policy.

  70. Being liked or likeable does not equate to being right or being a good president. We've had plenty of really good presidents that weren't "liked" and plenty of mediocre that were liked. Obama was an abysmal failure when it comes to leading our nation.

    Obama is a weak leader in the classic sense of leadership (as I am sure Trump will be and from the same root). When you go back to the beginning of his first administration with his infamous line "I won" and then look forward at how he did things, he worked from a position of authority, not influence. A leader's number one trait is the ability to influence (not through threat or coercion). Obama chose political progress over being a leader at home while at the same time, influenced poorly on the world stage and did not use the power of his position. Leadership requires that a person can do more than create a compelling vision and connect to listeners with their communication.

  71. Thank you Mr President for a great 8 years. For the first time in modern history, we didn't have one major scandal and we had a president we could look it up to. A few of your accomplishments include:

    He pulled the nation out of a great recession
    His signature domestic achievement -- Obamacare -- may be in grave danger, but what it's replaced with will still contain many elements of his vision for health care
    He stood up for the rights of the LGBT community
    He sounded the alarm on climate change
    He offered a different perspective in the nation's long-running conversation on race.

  72. "He pulled the nation out of a great recession"

    He actually presided over the slowest recovery from a recession in history and had the worst GDP during his time in office.

    His signature domestic achievement -- Obamacare -- may be in grave danger, but what it's replaced with will still contain many elements of his vision for health care"

    He used partisan politics to force the worst domestic policy down the throats of the American people, lying to them the entire time regarding keeping their policies and their doctors.
    "He stood up for the rights of the LGBT community"
    For his entire life he believed that marriage was between a man and a woman, and then, miraculously, changed that stance weeks before a national election.
    "He sounded the alarm on climate change'
    He worships at the altar of climate change since it is yet another way for the federal government to extract money from corporations and individuals in this country as other countries do little to nothing to reduce pollution.
    "He offered a different perspective in the nation's long-running conversation on race."
    Hardly. Obama threw the race card at every opportunity, striving to divide the country. He turned up at every event that saw a white person mistreat a black person but NEVER commented on or sent an entourage to a setting where there was black on black crime or black on white crime. He never wanted a "conversation" on race. He wanted to lecture everyone else.

  73. Remember these:

    IRS Scandal
    Benghazi
    Obamacare Website
    Eric Holder calling us Cowards

  74. @wynnosu:

    "He turned up at every event that saw a white person mistreat a black person but NEVER commented on or sent an entourage to a setting where there was black on black crime or black on white crime."

    What exactly are you talking about? The only thing that comes to mind is killings by police, but that's not about white people killing black people, it's about police killing black people. And yes, most murders occur within ethnic groups, but that is relevant how? Obama decried gang violence in his push for reasonable gun control.

    I just don't understand where the idea that the administration was sending out "entourages" for victims of violent crimes comes from. The major exception is mass shootings - most police shootings didn't get that much attention from the white house.

  75. The thing which must gnaw at Donald Trump more than anything else will get worse in the coming months. It is the regard by honest people for Barack Obama as a good and decent man.

    Donald Trump also will become more and more frustrated by the fact that raw power, ruthlessness and cunning will never be admired as much as grace, intelligence, erudition and vision.

    The television talking heads focus on the over-used term, “legacy.” They see the concept simplistically as a check list of specific programs, regulations and policies.

    The commentators fail to realize that we would not be watching the spectacle of dishonest cabinet nominees carefully evading the truth of their opposition to ideas President Obama championed, had our departing President not made those values the norm.

    Republican nominees are jumping through hoops and disgracing themselves because they are too afraid to openly oppose ideas like healthcare for all, clean water and air, reduced use of fossil fuels, fairness to people of all races, religions and sexual orientations, and strength in international affairs through intelligent negotiation rather than aimless bloodshed.

    A few years ago the Republican Party would have proudly opposed these ideas without having to skulk around.

    Barack Obama already has won.

  76. Watching the last news conference of President Obama I felt a sense of profound sadness. For those who say he didn't accomplish anything I say history will confirm that his years in office were stained only by the lack of disrespect and treasonist disregard of the Republicans. No President is perfect. To expect everyone to be fully satisfied by their accomplishments is naive. President Obama has set the bar very high for the incoming administration, his optimism and hope for the future will prove true. Morality and honesty will trump hate and lies. President Obama believes in the future and American exceptionalism. He has faith in the next generation. Let's hope that as the next generation comes to understand that they hold the keys to the future direction of our country. I pray that Trump et al are the last of a dying breeed.

  77. Nicholas,

    The one area where you should be most focused is on how the developed countries handle the responsibilities of climate change, for its cost will fall most heavily on the developing world.

    Will our response be simply to arrest global growth?

    How much growth in economic activity will be allowed for those corners of the world for which each incremental percentage point of growth is a matter of life and death.

    Do you have clear prescriptions for how developed countries, staggering under the pressures of universal health care, declining labor participation, the coming retirement and pressure on social safety nets will endure if economic activity is slowed or stopped?

    Have you studied ZERO economic growth in an era of continuing population growth with that growth pressing on carbon emissions (absent other fuel sources)?

    I have found your writings, particularly your recent defense of faithful Americans and persecuted people groups, to be incredibly important. On his "signature" accomplishment, Obama's pledge to "cool" the Earth is not compelling. My great hope is that our leadership, particularly those who understand economics and refrain from rose-colored proclamations, will tackle the realities of energy. It will rest on cost and sources, not screeds and hysterical speechmaking.

    That is the biggest contribution that we and successive leaders can make to the corners of the world you cover. Obama's legacy will be viewed for its initiation and incompleteness.

  78. I keep wondering what will happen to all the ceremonial traditions that president's usually preside over. Awarding the Medal of Freedom, the Medal of Honor, bringing kids to the White House to celebrate their science projects, bringing in winning sports teams ( including women's teams). In short, recognizing and celebrating the achievements of other Americans.

    Has Donald Trump ever publicly celebrated someone else? Has he ever willingly ceded the spotlight to others? I don't think so. I can't imagine how he'll handle these moments, and I will miss Obama's gracious, humble, and enthusiastic, easy way of doing it.

  79. Oh, he'll give awards, but he'll make it all about him and his tremendous genius in spotting and rewarding merit.

  80. Yes, the president is "a role model, a symbol of American values around the world."

    But so are we. Americans as citizens are also symbols of our values around the world. And of all the "checks and balances" we the people are the strongest, by vigilantly keeping ourselves on alert for any erosion of our mutual constitutional rights and nonviolently resisting in every possible way any executive actions which diminish these rights or skew them for certain subgroups of our citizenry.

    So the world will watch our president's behavior, and draw conclusions. But they will also watch us. Will we be diligent and fierce in our opposition to any efforts by the upcoming administration to circumvent a free press, harass legitimate journalists, stifle or control information, demean reporters and twitter away the time-honored political norms by which all our presidents responded to criticism?

    Will we be diligent and fierce in our opposition to any actions that disproportionately or unfairly impact the vulnerable, the poor, the disabled, the undocumented, women, people who look or worship differently from the majority of us?

    Will we the people do our job? The world is watching............

  81. Contrary to what Nicholas Kristof says here, the weight of academic evidence supports the view that voters vote on the basis of economic issues, rather than values and personality.

    We have been seeing in the data for many years that the white working class has been departing the Democratic Party. In the New Deal era the Democrats won many elections with working class majorities. Since the 1970s, Democratic presidential campaigns have almost never worn a white working class majority though there has been a plurality or two for a Democrat, as in the case of Bil Clinton.

    To suggest that voters are merely fickle, and they'll come back, is fundamentally wrong, because it overlooks the major pattern in the data that I cited above.

    Whether or not the Democrats can take back the presidency in 2020 because Trump's personality finally offends public sentiment is not the issue. As long as there is hardly a white male at a Democratic National Convention, as long as the working class rightly feels that they have no one looking out for them in the party, the Democratic Party will continue to be a weak party.

  82. I share your gratitude for the dignity of the Obama family. It matters enormously from afar. The Obamas have been extraordinary. (Think only of the grade school lessons we all absorb on presidents and their families.) My worry now is not just that long-voiced American fear that we might elect "a demagogue," a worry loudly voiced almost two centuries ago around the time Andrew Jackson was elected. Now we have elected a demagogue who is also clueless about what it means to govern. Hard for our second graders to take in an incompetent demagogue.

  83. For many of us, the nightmare is about to become a waking horror. The President has consistently supported a peaceful transition, but I wish all Democrats and Independents had agreed to stay away from the Inauguration. That includes the Obamas and the Clintons. Their presence legitimizes this illegitimate president, who should be impeached on Day One.

  84. While it's true that President Obama has been an imperfect President, the "unravelling" may be less permanent than we may now fear.

    As one example, let's look at the Affordable Care Act. Administrations since at least Nixon have known that we've needed to take a new approach, and many tried, but it was only Obama that pulled off large changes. (Admittedly at a price.) The act was as imperfect as he, but movement was accomplished. We learned that change can happen.

    Even if the program is pulled apart, there's little doubt (due to popularity) that some of the sections will remain in some form.

    In other areas that are flipped back to a pre-Obama stage, we'll see some winners and losers. We'll find out what Obama policies should have remained, and the fact that those successful Obama program were done once will inform us that we can return.

    History can't be unravelled.

  85. I wasn't a big fan of Mr. Obama. I wanted the Democrats to run Hillary Clinton for president eight years ago with Mr. Obama as her vice-president. She was a seasoned veteran of Washington; he was a naive up and coming star of the party. But that was not the way the Democratic went. I suspect they thought with Mr.Obama as the candidate they would get a huge turnout from the black voters and that would be the edge they needed. I still believe my scenario was better and now after eight years of Hillary we would have a lock on eight years with Obama. I believe Mr. Obama grew into the role of President, and his wife Michelle brought new strength and grace to the unofficial office of First Lady. Regardless of his performance in the role, I believe if he had had eight years as vice president to temper him to the ways of Washington then we would now be welcoming him to the office. Now I find myself bidding farewell to a President I grew to admire; but still I wonder what he might have been had the Democratic Party just been more patient before forcing him to the world stage. Yes, I miss Barack Obama already but I still wonder, what if . . . .

  86. Unfortunately, I was worried about Hillary's baggage eight years ago and I was even more worried about it this year. I believe she would have made a very good president, but unfortunately, she always skated a little too close to the sun. Ironically, this time she lost to a man who claimed to want to drain the swamp but who is the swamp and whose greatest accomplishment was to slime her with accusations of all the things he does every day before breakfast--and his days go downhill from there.

  87. Chelsea Manning? Oscar Lopez Rivera? Wet feet, dry feet?

    What's next, release Charlie Manson? Because none of these makes sense, at all.

    For those of us with calendars, it is down to hours. My fear is the man will not go away. No 60 minutes pieces on life in Hawaii helping homeless people and vets. No hobbies to explore such as pottery or painting.

    I foresee a book, speaking fees of $250k, endless fundraisers, and an effort to rebuild a party he destroyed.

    The elite progressives will never be able to rebuild the Democratic party, a new entity must emerge, one that rejects no one.

  88. Thanks for letting us know that you, like so many Americans, prefer a man who had to pay $25 million for committing fraud against thousands of Americans two days before taking the oath of office as president and whose long business history is rife with fraud, tax avoidance, and sexual assault to a man of personal honesty and intelligence. Mencken was right: no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. If you are not in the 1%, I'd advise hanging on to your wallet very tightly. But I suspect you'll be handing it over voluntarily and then wonder what happened to Dear Leader's promises. Welcome to Venezuela.

  89. I am 62, and Obama is the first president I thoroughly trusted to act in the public interest and in accordance with my deepest values. That meant that I gave him the benefit of the doubt on issues I disagreed with, trusting that he was privy to information and had a larger view of events than I. Our hesitancy in the middle east was frustrating, yet I am confident that he chose that course with full deliberation, weighing all available options carefully. In my profession, sometimes the "no-build" option is the best one. Restraint can be courageous. Why did I invest such trust in this young man with so little experience, someone I didn't even vote for? Because he so clearly thinks deeply and seeks the best while acknowledging the worst outcomes. Yes, he is the opposite of a tweeter. Now I shift to a mode of reflexive distrust. SAD.

  90. "The most boring personal life imaginable"? I think most people envy what President Obama has accomplished in his personal life. And what his wife and daughters have accomplished in theirs. He is , simply put, a great human being. Mr. Trump's lack of a moral and ethical compass has gotten old for so many people. One person told me a year ago " he will change as he gets into the general election". Guess what it didn't happen. The leopard doesn't change its spots. I have put my support/respect/ recognition button for the office on pause. Nothing, absolutely nothing in what I have seen so far has begun to lead me to release that button

  91. Obama had class, dignity and a vision for this country that many were not ready for. His legacy will be felt for years even it not appreciated initially. I will miss a president who clearly cared for the people regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation, and made many of us proud to stand behind him. As someone who travels abroad often, it was a refreshing 8 years to come in contact with a world that respected our president and our country for electing him. Yes, I miss him already and I expect I will often in the coming years. Godspeed to you and family President Obama.

  92. As I read your column I began to wonder what might have happened if President Obama had acted badly. I think that there would have been the trotting out of the generalizations about Black Men, how they are "all" that way, and the wagging fingers and shaking heads would have been legion.

    The attacks on Michelle Obama have been equally vicious, and yet she also rose above that.

    And yet, even when they have acted in an exemplary way, when he and his wife and children were seen as models of intelligence, wit and decorum, I don't hear anyone suggesting that they represent how Black Men and Women behave to set examples for their children, how they act respectfully towards each other, that they are intelligent and compassionate, that they do not have uncontrolled emotions.

    They are seen as singular exceptions to our biased beliefs.

    Bob Dylan comes to mind.

  93. I am thrilled president Obama, the man and leader, is getting the admiration he so richly deserves. We will need the example of this outstanding public servant, philosopher, and leader to inspire us in dark days. His grace, humor, intellect, wisdom, adventurousness, and unending desire to understand the world and its people have been a joy. But his fierce dedication to our democracy, and passion to see all citizens play a role in their destiny will be a continuing call on Americans to be their best. As he said "these truths are self evident, but not self executing." Let's make this man as proud of us as we are of him.

  94. Inauguration Day 2009, I turned on my classroom television so that my second graders could watch Barack Obama take the oath of office. I so wanted my young students to see the young senator become our first African American president. I wanted them to imagine great things for their own lives, and to see the possibilities. They may not have understood all the words of his Inaugural Address, but seeing their young faces raptly watching history unfold gave me so much joy and hope.

    President Obama and his family have been wonderful, positive role models. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his policy or politics that is an indisputable fact. My second graders are now well into their high school years, beginning to make important life choices. I can only hope and pray that they will remember that day, and carry it with them-yes you can.

  95. Hear, hear, Mr. Kristof.

    Barack Obama has modeled integrity, reasonableness, balance, and good faith in the face of vicious, racist vitriol from many, including from the Donald.

    And he's been humble even in achieving great things - pulling us back from the brink of a financial meltdown, introducing universal health care after a century's effort, ending ill-conceived foreign wars. That humility he ascribes to his partner, Michelle and his family.

    He will be sorely missed.

  96. Yes, even my die hard Republican neighbors admit he was a class act personally and now, I even sense some disgust with Trump. I still confused over a party that for so long pushed family values, and yet, now, seems perfectly comfortable with an individual they would not allow their daughters to date.

  97. I wouldn't let my daughters in the same room with him let alone date him, but then again I didn't vote for him.

  98. Obama is certainly a decent man through and through but he was also a person who valued what we should all value, the principles that are embedded in the constitution. We are about to see them trashed to our peril.

    He stood alone as his political enemies and friends alike looked for flaws in his character so they could shake their heads and say what do you expect from a black man. Underlying Kristof's praise is partly sthe thought isn't he amazing because he showed such dignity in the face of such burning hatred for something he cannot change.

    There is no art of the deal that could have changed the deep boned rejection of him and his policies just because a black man proposed them.. I, for one, wish that he hadn't had to work within that racial box he was in, that contempt that wasn't far from the surface when he was dealing with the politicians and voters who wouldn't give him the time of day. Ryan. McConnell, the Freedom party would have had less of a following for their terrible politics.

    Obama was blamed for being too above the fray, not collegial enough. I read that to mean he should have back slapped those who sneered at him behind his back. Well, I am glad he didn't grovel to that clique of uncivil men.

    I admire the man but what I will miss is his excellent ideas and policies that looked to the future and not the past.

  99. Donald Trump thinks POTUS is a prize he won. Does not realize it was a job interview & he was hired to work for the citizens of the United States.
    For the People. For the Common Good.
    Both of those are concepts that are unknown to Trump.
    The billionaire living in his golden tower knows nothing of the life most Americans lead. A rich bully, Trump has had money and lawyers to cover his excesses and failures his entire life. He makes people sign pledges of silence, if they speak, he sues. He hires people to surround him that will defer to him, he buys their respect. Trump does not earn it. He's never needed to.
    He's not politically correct because he's never needed to be civil. Ask his former wives about his behavior. Or his current one.

    Obama is much more like most Americans. It was the main reason I voted for him in 2008. Mixed race. Raised by his single mom. Public schools, no healthcare. College on scholarships. Hard worker. 1 marriage. 1 home. 1 mortgage. Kids to buy shoes for. No one to bail him out. No one to pay his way. Like most of us. Obama's word, behavior and work ethic mattered. Just like us.
    Obama knew more about average U.S. life than McCain in 2008 or Romney in 2012. Trump? Not a chance. Donald thinks real life is like reality TV. His Cabinet couldn't be further removed from everyday American life. They do not know about budgets and bills and doing without till the next paycheck. Never even thought about it.
    None of what's coming will be good.

  100. I agree about almost everything you said but I don't think Obama went to many, if any, public schools. His high school was the best private school in Hawaii. His mother was a single mom but she was also a PhD anthropologist who worked for the Ford Foundation. Let's praise him for his many good qualities but he did not rise from a ghetto childhood.

  101. Actually, the President attended private schools. His working class family made many sacrifices to enable this, I think to try to give him a head start as a bi-racial child in a time when that was a more difficult position than today.

  102. Actually, Barack Obama attended 4 years of government, indonesian language schools in Jakarta, not private schools as his step father and his mother could not afford to send him to an international school.

    He went back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents and attended the private school there Punahao School as a SCHOLARSHIP BOY. His mother divorced his step father, his maternal grandfather worked in a furniture store and his grandmother supported the family starting out as a bank officer - in 1960 before being promoted to becoming a bank VP. No one there came from a privileged background.

  103. Funny how Mr. Obama and his family exemplify all of the qualities that the GOP supposedly care about: family, a belief in a higher power, personal conservatism, etc. while the man they elected is the polar opposite. Amazing how hate can blind.

  104. You are right in your assessment of what Gopers syand for. However, you have overlooked one important fact: Obama is a black man.

  105. Amazing how hate can blind and bind, indeed.

  106. So true... the problem for Obama was all of his personal virtue ( real and perceived) were trumped, no pun intended, by his incompetence in performing his job.

  107. It must be the NYC water. There are millions of wonderful men and women who are gracious, good parents, and well-spoken, it's not all that special to most of us. Yet most of these decent folks would not be great presidents. Is there a reason why Times' columnists continue to perseverate in this tedious, repetitive cycle of self-indulgent grief over the election? The election is finished - get over yourselves and your disappointment.

  108. Sheesh, I accidentally recommended this. Sorry. It's true that most decent folks would not be good Presidents--I'd be terrible, and George W was the first one I thought worse than I'd be.

    I think we have at least four years to indulge in grief--the same four years the Republicans indulged in sulks, lies, and vituperation. What, you thought we wouldn't notice?

  109. As an aficionado of good English, I will miss the use of complete, coherent sentences. Such usage shows that effective and insightful thinking has occurred, something for which Resident Trump has shown no talent.

  110. I've been searching for the appropriate address for Trump. "RESIDENT TRUMP" is perfect!!!

  111. There's never been a president in my adult life (my first vote was in 1980) who I've liked and respected more, when I agreed with him and when I didn't, and I don't expect to see one if I live another 30-40 years...

    And my bet is Trump will take an equally indelible place on the other end of my presidential ledger. He already makes Nixon look like a saintly man in comparison, and that takes some doing...

  112. Well. BHO's final presser and for all intents his high quality administration are over. We won't see such class, clarity and coherence again any time soon. The trite but realistic message at the end is optimistic: "keep calm and carry on." I'll try, once I've finally dried my tears.

  113. Obama does not have a legacy. No one will miss him except the socialistic democrats who are a fraction of the socialistic democratic party Obama decimated. Respect for the taxpayer dollar comes back to the White House on January 20, 2017.

  114. How about respect for the ordinary taxpayer's dollar, instead of only the Very Rich taxpayer's dollar? I think there are a lot of people who don't realize how rich the very rich are--so rich that they can make in a year enough that they and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will never have to work at all, and will still have more money every year than the ordinary taxpayer sees in a lifetime.

  115. Like Trump, you can't even express a coherent thought without contradicting yourself.

    How can the "socialist democartic Party" be socialist, when earlier in the sentence you say that the "socialist democrats are [just] a fraction of the party?"

    And you're spouting off the word "socialist" without even knowing what it means; socialists are not synonymous with democrats.

    I suspect that either you're just another troll paid by the Russians; or maybe just a Foxbot or Limbaugh Dittohead who spews whatever they tell you to spew without even understanding it.

  116. It's always amazed me and pleased me that the girls were "off limits" to the media. Yay! At one time I was close to the Episcopalian mafia of northwest DC (I lived in DC for over 40 years) and protecting the children from the foolishness that goes on there is just wonderful. A little boy saluting as his father's casket goes by nothwithstanding...

  117. Perhaps "our children" would have a realistic chance of admiring Trump if the adults would give him a chance. Over 60 Democratic from Congress are grandstanding the innaug tomorrow....they are not going to attend which is the most childish response to a loss. The role model ( Obama) had the opportunity to promote the peaceful transition yesterday by simply asking the Dems to attend the event tomorrow. This is not the America we want to be.
    As far as fatherhood goes...it appears from the outside that Obama has done a wonderful job raising his daughters. The same should be said about Trump.

  118. Your analogy falls flat. By all accounts, Trump spent as little time as humanly possible raising his children, even bragging about how low a priority child rearing was for him.

  119. Or, they could act exactly like the "mature" Republicans did when Pres Obama was innaugirated, and proclaim that "Our goal is to make Obama a one-term president," and then refuse to work with him in any way.

    Oh, but that's different; Republicans are allowed to do things like that.

  120. What? If Trump raised his children, there's no reason to suspect he did a good job. No evidence that they're good people.

    And why should we accept Trump, when the Republican Congress spent eight years not accepting Obama--claiming he wasn't even an American, and confessedly setting as their first priority, making him a one-term President?

    We are in an awful mess, and the Republicans put us there.

  121. If for no other reason (and there are plenty), it's been wonderful to breath a bit easier knowing that a calm, reasoned, steady hand has been at the tiller these past eight years. Some might think the stated foreign policy dictum of "Don't do stupid, uhm, shtuff" was simplistic, but Mr. Obama has been the only President in my lifetime to take that seriously.

    Calmly digging us out of the Republicans economic mess was nice too.

    So, let's tip our hats and get our shovels ready for the coming mess. We're gonna miss that family.

  122. Averse to asserting privilege? The person who lectured us about having "made enough" sends his daughters to private school and now on to Harvard, while now planning to rent a &6mm dollar home ? I for one won't miss the hypocritical lecturing from someone who managed to confront the world with such immaturity and passive malevolence, alienating friends and tripping over himself to ingratiate himself to those who hate us.

  123. Immaturity ? Passive malevolence ? You could apply them to the incoming Celebrity Apprentice President, only it would be active malevolence.

  124. Excuse me, but what planet have you been living on for the past 8 years?
    - Trump constantly talks about how much money he has made. He brags about his wealth. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, all from his daddy. He owns his own airplane. And you're complaining about how Pres Obama once made a single remark about how he's EARNED his money?
    - The fact that Pres Obama can put together thoughtful and coherent sentences does not constitute "hypocritical lecturing." Trump espouses his thoughts in 144 characters (which contain mispellings and are grammatically incorrect); and then he changes his mind 15 minutes later. And Trump never "lectures" us? Puhlease!
    - Obama never "alienated" friends. He was loved by most leaders around the world. The ones that disliked him (e.g. Netanyahu) are merely the ones whose policies he didn't agree with; and he stood up for his (and America's) principles.

    You sound like you're one of those haters who never would accept ANYTHING that Pres Obama as being good. A stooge paid by the Russians? A Foxbot?

  125. BHO made his money with his hard work and his own talents.

    He did make enough to send his kids to private school and Harvard. Pretty good for a scholarship boy.

  126. I can't imagine any responsible parent looking to Trump as a role model. What do we tell our children? What is it about this man that we can respect? The GOP of my youth spoke of family values. I guess that is a golden oldie idea now.

  127. The Wall Street Journal is a successful media outlet, just not a moral one.
    President Obama is a great President, perhaps the best in my 70 years. It is more the hatred of the Billionaire White Power Republicans who opposed his every move that deserves the derision.
    Hugh Massengill, Eugene Oregon

  128. I stopped reading WSJ after Murdoch took it over AND found that its editorial was full of praise and justifications for George W Bush even as he hid the huge deficits the country was running in engaging in 2 wars.

  129. Thanks for reminding us and making us feel worse.

    The countdown has begun - only 1,096 days left.

  130. As of noon on January 20th, Elvis has left the building. Another day that will live in infamy.

  131. Back in 2000 I was stuck on a plane to NY. The guy in front of me was regaling his seatmate with praise for the W. Bush-Cheney election saying, "Now it's time for some real leadership." Real leadership? Let's remember the strong "leaders" in history from Rome to Berlin to Beijing to Moscow. It's true Obama was unable to rally the nation to some self-serving frenzy which "leaders" specialize in driving. His cool prevented an overheated foreign policy that might have resulted in another war abroad. So now, according to the GOP "leaders" Trump will drive that strong "leadership", and possibly drive us off a cliff. Be careful, very careful what you ask for.

  132. Will miss this great man terribly. He is an astounding human being. A wonderful father, a thoughtful leader, voracious learner. He exemplifies class and dignity. Thank you Obama for fighting for us. For fighting for equity and justice for all.

  133. Just a minute. In 2000 and 2016 the winner of the popular vote was not inaugurated. The loser was. Just because we live in a banana republic that installs gop losers is no reason to pretend the voters wanted that result. They didn't. To pretend otherwise is a species of fake news, giving aid and comfort to the illegitimate.

  134. Neither was the winner of the 2004 election.

  135. I could not agree more. The column suggests that voters were "weary" and wanted to change, but that is simply not true! The people wanted Hillary Clinton like almost 3,000,000 more votes in, which suggests that we are not a democracy and that the original purpose of the electoral college has been totally corrupted. The country needs to address this problem, and commentators need to be talking about it rather than suggesting that the outcome of the election was the will of the people.

  136. The only illegitimate part I see is the garbage holding up the ticky tacky soapbox you're wobbling on, provided by the Propaganda Department NYT/DNC for you to regurgitate on command.

  137. Clearly Obama viewed his work as President as public service. Trump seems to see the Presidency as another notch on his belt and a way to extend his brand.

  138. President Obama is a Renascence man. In soul years, if you will, he's a transcendent wise old soul the likes of which we haven't been blessed since Abraham Lincoln, who was also by many misunderstood. I, like many others, am in a state of grief similar to losing a beloved family member or friend. God speed President Obama. We and the world still need your depth, insight and influence. Now more than ever.

  139. Please do not compare Obama to Lincoln and get spell check on your computer.

  140. Rewriting the closing sentence:

    "And if, as I fear, we see the White House transformed into a bog of scandals flowing from an unprincipled narcissist, we as a nation will be more appreciative of a first family that set an impeccable example for all the world.",

    we can achieve some balance:

    And if, as I fear, we see the White House transformed from a bog of constitutional overreach, institutionalized suppression of free speech, and feckless foreign policy flowing from a dignified narcissistic globalist-collectivist into a bog of scandals flowing from an unprincipled narcissist, we as a nation will be more appreciative of a first family that set an impeccable example for all the world."

  141. "But even on issues that I disagreed with him on, I never doubted his integrity or intelligence, his decency or honor." BINGO!

    Washington had it ("His Excellency" by Joseph Ellis); Lincoln had it ("A Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin); Obama has it and he will be sorely missed as the Trump administration works its will by any means necessary and regardless of human cost. Think integrity, intelligence and decency don't matter in politics?

    It is at "crunch time" we especially need a president with balanced judgment who is fair-minded, with a good heart--what G.W. Bush clearly did not have as he plunged us into his preemptive Iraq war under false pretenses.

    Good man that Obama is, thanks to the obstinate, obstructionist, obdurate Republicans and a vicious right-wing media spreading propaganda, lies, and disinformation, Obama could not get much of anything done. Why?

    If Obama got things done, 1. voters might not vote GOP; 2. government is bad because it taxes the greedy wealthy and regulates business; 3. punishment is preferred over kindness and compassion; and 4. in the GOP, it's always more money for the rich ttrumping the well being of all the people.

    Plus: 1. the media obsessed over Trump's disturbed personality but not issues; 2. the Democratic Party, the party of opposition to the GOP, was too timid, inept, and insular inside the beltway to be effective even when it had the majority; 3. Clinton was not perceived as having integrity.

    Integrity matters

  142. Your quote is what got to me, too. I don't expect to agree with everything any president--or person--does, but Obama was someone you would trust to pick up your kids at school. Trump? Naahh...

  143. Trump has been 4 times bankrupt and twice divocded and caught on tape admitting to adultery...that's integrity?????????????????????

  144. "Voters are fickle and promiscuous, suffering an eight-year itch for a fling with someone who is the opposite of their last infatuation."

    Nick, I wish I could believe your implication that Trump supporters might soon have buyers' remorse, but I'm not sure. Not until he touches their wallets would that occur.

    But I otherwise agree with all your role model distinctions. I began missing President Obama the night of November 8 when it hit me what the nation had done. "Unprincipled narcissist" is an apt description, provided it stops there.

    But reading Mr. Blow's quote about Trump planning military parades a fascist display of governmental military might made me simply sick to my stomach. This man can, and likely will, do a lot of damage. Whether he can completely turn democracy upside down is debatable, but if he weakens our civil liberties, punishes the poor, and continues spinning alternate views of reality that people grab onto, Americans could be in for a rough ride.

    I think that many would agree that President Obama is the polar opposite of Donald Trump. But the people have spoken. If this country survives four years of Trump it could become unrecognizable.

    But President Obama has promised to speak out on his core values: just think about that ! That a fairly popular outgoing president assures the nation he'll be watching as an extremely unpopular, threatening man assumes power must be a first.

    Thank you President Obama, for all you are and will remain.

  145. Trump's bull in a China shop brand of politics will become boring over time. The anger he will generate will destroy the Republican Party in 4 years!

  146. Thank you, I could not agree more with you. It makes me weep to think we have replaced this fine human being with DT. Barack has been ever thoughtful. We knew that his decisions, although not always agreed with, were made with precision and took many aspects in to consideration. Perhaps he has been too good at role reversing.

  147. Yes he and his classy wife and family will be missed while we enjoy 4 years of the Trump reality show. Nice article and yes...elections have consequences America,.

  148. Add "humble" to President Obama's traits and you get a sense of why he is underestimated as the fantastic leader he is. For President Obama, the ends are more important than the glory. He places his achievements above the petty political realm.
    History will take note. President Obama will be noted in a league with Lincoln and FDR. President Obama made America greater than any poll could capture.

  149. Humble? really? I guess you don't watch TV or listen to the radio. Obama is the antithesis of humble. I liken him to a petulant junior high student who thinks he's always the smartest kid in the room.

  150. Personal character, person’s inner quality, one’s essence, always leaves an authentic seal, a more or less delicate “watermark” on all of that person’s affairs and interactions with physical world and surrounding people, even regardless of one’s intentions, abilities or façade (and, also, despite the counter-measures of the opponents)…
    Thank you for writing this.

  151. He already made America great again.

  152. One of the reasons that his approval numbers are so high upon his exit is that he's such a glaring contrast with the incoming president-elect....night and day....

  153. Obama has something I highly value in a person, while Trump has never had one and apparently never will: a sense of humor.

  154. Marcus--One actually has to have some intelligence in order to develop a sense of humor. Dumb people don't get real humor, they just make fun of, and degrade, others.

  155. In the office of President, we are replacing a man with a boy.

  156. And a very bad boy at that.

  157. Yes, yes, and yes!

  158. All of what we hope to see will be contingent on a press willing to present the truth for what it is, not for what they think will garner the most "clicks." Faux objectivity has become the norm, thus we find ourselves up to our ears in random tweets and other irrelevancies that lend themselves to a new journalistic norm that equates rumor with fact. Yes, the Obamas have been exemplary in their behavior, but this is meaningless in an information universe that has accommodated the ascendancy of a carnival barking hot head to the pinnacle of power.

  159. I believe that this prediction of Mr. Kristoff's will turn out as so many other of his predictions - totally incorrect.

  160. You are soooo right...Worst President Ever - Barrack Hussein Obama .

  161. and is the rare president who got through a second term without significant scandals!!!!
    Unless I missed something, Obama get through a second term without *any* scandal.

  162. President Obama is the epitome of grace under fire, Trump is a disgrace...

  163. Barack Obama has been the best President in my 65-year life. Tomorrow, I suspect the worst will take office. I will hold the memories of this president and his family close to my heart in the difficult weeks and months ahead.

  164. He's been the second worst in my 62 years. Only JImmy Carter was worse. I am glad to see him go.

  165. Had any of the banksters who wrecked the world economy been arrested and jailed Trump would not have had his window of opportunity. And that would also have made Obama a great rather than a good president.

  166. On my best days I could not do a better job than President Obama. On my worst days I could not do a worse job than trump.

  167. Not only do journalists pay too much attention to the man and and not enough to the policies, but democrats do too. Obama was indeed a respectable family man to be looked up to....who has almost brought down the healthcare industry with his policies, the ACA. I am a physician, and doctors have risen to the top of one remarkable category over the last 5 years-we now have the highest suicide rate of any white collar worker in the US. So let's celebrate the man, and look forward to reversing his damaging policies, both at home and abroad.

  168. What happened to so many of your thoughts on November 9, when you admonished readers to "give President Trump a change"??

  169. i don't know if he is the smartest president ever but i would love to share a room and my record collection. yes i will miss this man and this President immensely. thank you mr President

  170. Obama's reputation is indeed unimpeachable.

  171. I expect the Woodmont County Club is exhibiting old fashioned bias. Or maybe the effects of bullying.

  172. The "Obama legacy" will certainly be mixed. As a family man and human I think he was a decent, smart, hard working fellow, ( as were President Bushs' 1 & 2) but politically he was prone to believe what his politics told him ( not unlike President Bush 2 regarding Iraq) not what the facts and reality told him were happening. His remarks and speeches referred to himself constantly and the subject of the speech occasionally. His scandals were minor but annoying and none family related but that could also be due to a boot licking press who went looking for family trouble with his predecessor. Had the ACA been sold without resorting to half truths, lies, deceptions and bribery, and read by those voting for it so they could fix what was wrong before passing the legislation, it would have been smaller, more effective and more likely to survive the upcoming stupidity of "repeal". His campaigning for Hillary amounted to pleading and whining, hardly Presidential but in many ways the last 8 years have been all about him, for good and ill. Our allies never doubted where we stood under G.W. Bush but question the same under Obama /Kerry. I suspect they will long for these days once P-E Trump takes office. Sadly I fear the upcoming 4 years will be all about the new President and i don't think there will be much for the good but we shall see. I never thought I'd say this but I think will miss President Obama.

  173. America seems to have decided to trade in 'class' for 'crass', 'thoughtfulness' for 'gut reaction', and a 'silk purse' for a 'sows' ear'. How sad for America and how disturbing for the rest of the world.

  174. Our nation's character will never be the same.

  175. Trump and his cabinet picks have collectively had more "ethical lapses" -- an understated euphemism for illegal activities -- than rival and perhaps surpass what we experienced during the Nixon and Bush years, two eras we cannot afford to duplicate.
    We felt so safe with Obama and Biden leading us. Now we're entering uncharted waters that are dark, rough and horrifically dangerous.

  176. I am grieving the loss of a fine man who was our president for eight years, and I am grieving the potential loss of our democracy as I have known it.

  177. Oh come on Nick -- you knew the day was coming when Barack Obama would hand over the presidency to his successor. Of course it's this incoming successor that you never anticipated which disappoints you the most. How is it possible that the saintly Obama could even conceive of leaving the White House to a devil like Trump??

    I'm sure Nick Kristof has seen enough transitions between people of different parties to know that is hardly an earthshattering occurrence. Even George W Bush wasn't treated with this much contempt by the media after his controversial win over Al Gore in 2000. Things were simple back in the day--the loser congratulated the winner and life went back to normal quickly. I am so sick to death of Obama's long good by and the puff pieces surrounding his imminent departure.

    You're also too old to be a snowflake, Nick. As the late Joan Rivers used to say "Oh grow up already."

  178. Presidential transitions earth-shattering? No.

    A president with integrity, intelligence, loyalty, and dignity being replaced by a serially bankrupt, tax-dodging, adulterous, lecherous, empty gasbag who can't even spell, let alone keep his cool and comport himself like a leader? That's a whole different kettle of fish.

  179. Well-said, Nick. May I be so bold as to suggest that Obama's Hawaii roots have much to do with his popularity?

    We value modesty and humility in our state. We praise the "quiet, but effective" leader and greatly admire those who think before they speak.

    Conversely, we disdain the arrogant, loud-mouthed type. We love a "cool" guy, and hate a screaming idiot. To lose one's temper, brands you as a jerk.

    Friday, January 20 will be a day of mourning in the Islands.

  180. Thank you Mr. President. You show us a world of decency and kindness. I hope that our next president will be half the human being that you are but I doubt it. However, if decency is not forgotten, hope will remain.

  181. There is a sense of unease everywhere I go in my smallish town; people asking: why can't Obama have another term? what is trump going to do? is he really as crazy as he acts? why does he lie so much? why does he act like he hates America and loves Putin? what's wrong with him? from the clerk at the corner store, the cashier at the checkout, the librarian, my grandchildren calling me....trump is a big black cloud hanging over us. With Obama we felt safe, stable, knowing that we could move forward on fixing things..but now, who knows what trump will do. How can anybody trust him?
    Yes, Obama is, and will ever-increasingly so, be missed. His legacy will stand the test of time no matter how much of it republicans tear it apart. Republican incompetence at governing always comes back to bite them.
    You should all be proud to call President and Mrs. Obama Americans.

  182. Spot on Nicholas! He's an amazing, intelligent, and most importantly, a moral man. I sure hope he continues to contribute his insight and genius to our suffering society. Truly a great Orator. Thank you for publishing my exact thoughts and feelings toward President Obama.

  183. There's still one day left to be proud of America. Sometime tomorrow the lesser beings who crawl around Washington will stop holding their breath and stomping their feet. Republicans are drooling down their shirt fronts waiting to get at the spoils that are our tax dollars. They'll get to drop bombs wherever they want, but of course they'll hire those jobs out to the military because they're cowards.
    All you folks in Kentucky, West Virginia and Wyoming get those shovels ready cause we're gonna be diggin' up some coal, but don't start till Mitch McConnell gives the signal. Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania they promised to get those factories humming so get your lunch buckets ready.

  184. Last night I watched the Frontline piece about how divided we are. Going down "memory lane" of Obama's presidency: the GOPs obstruction, Sandy Hook, etc. was painful. I can imagine he's ready to "get out of dodge." I listened to his press conference yesterday and compared it to Trump's of last week. Obama: God bless and good luck press corp. Trump: You are fake news. I have really, really tied to understand what his voters see in him. How may articles have been written about Trump voters (NONE about Hillary voters!)? How many interviews? They all seem like decent people, but I'm sorry, I just don't get it. I plan on watching ZERO of the inauguration. ZERO of the SOTU speech. It is the only way I can survive the next four years. That and finding a T-Shirt that screams "Don't Blame Me."

  185. BHO spent most of his Presidency on the golf course and it's looks like his post-presidency will be the same. If you miss him just make a tee time.

  186. less vacation time than Bush, and Uncle Donnie doesn't work weekends. you buyer's remorse will kick in soon enough.

  187. Your comment betrays a lack of diverse news sources. I'm not sure how useful it really is, but if that's your metric for measuring presidents, do a little research on how much time previous presidents spent on the golf course, or at their Texas ranch, Maine retreat, California ranch, etc.
    Then, I suggest you note how often our next president is in his New York Tower, his Palm Beach Resort or his NJ golf club.
    Then wait to see if some media outlets calculate tab US taxpayers will bear for his visits to his other "White Houses".
    I'm guessing those who reported President Obama's golf games will not report the cost incurred.

  188. Do you have access to his schedule? Funny, that's not the way I remember things.

    And calling him "BHO" appears to be a dead giveaway of your political views. Liberals and progressives seldom emphasize the president's middle initial, while conservatives, in my experience, put it front and center, as often as possible.

  189. What is "consequential?" Reagan and his failure to address the AIDS plague? Bush's lying the country into Iraq, indifference to Karina, then ruining the economy?

    Avoiding deadly consequences, and making a better world is the only consequence worth having. Thanks Mr. President!

  190. For 75 years, it was said that Roosevelt's New Deal saved capitalism. By softening the rough edges of the free market capitalism with reforms such as social security and unemployment insurance, FDR may have prevented adoption of much more radical changes.

    75 years from today it is unlikely that anyone will think Obama saved market-priced medical care. Rather, he only prolonged it, and that will not be thought of as a good thing. In the developed world, market-priced medical care still exists only in the USA.

    The reason that no nation, including the wealthiest can allow markets to set the prices of medical care indefinitely is that demand for medical care is inelastic. Demand for a good or service is inelastic if a percentage increase in price results in a smaller percentage decrease in the quantity demanded. Basic economics tells us that sellers facing inelastic demand will continuously raise prices until prices reach the elastic portion of the demand curve. Consequently in every developed country in the world, all goods or services with inelastic demand have their prices regulated by government. Medical care in the USA being the only exception.

    Health care is one of the very few things for which the sellers face inelastic demand. The prices of all other goods and services facing inelastic demand in the USA are regulated by government. Retail electricity service providers face inelastic demand. Consequently, their prices are c...."
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/1647632

  191. What is longed for is neither of the leaders that confront us, the one departing and the one arriving. What is longed for is honesty and humility and universal values reflective of all citizens and those hoping to become. When politics merged with the media circus, all bets were off and we have been confronted, if not surrounded, by narcissism and sycophants while quiet leadership and wisdom is the requirement for progress benefitting all.

    Fearful of stillness, we live in a time of excess stimulation devoid of patience, respect, and appreciation. When these return, we will be righted, but without a hint of nostalgia for an aloof and disconnected ideologue with much destruction left in his wake.

  192. The Wall Street Journal exemplifies the sheer stupidity of the American right wing. It is incomprehensible that the man that brought healthcare to millions of Americans, struck a deal with Iran, opened the door to Cuba and pulled the US out of two losing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could be anything other than "consequential." But it is this arrogant and vicious salivating at the prospect of erasing the legacy of the first African American President that makes the right in the US so utterly and unreservedly repulsive. Racism is, perhaps, the truest and most deeply felt American value, and it is exemplified in publications like the WSJ.

    That being said, let me point out, again, that Obama may be missed for his dignity, class and compassion - all things that Trump simply doesn't possess. But he will be particularly missed for his competence and clear vision. Obama knew what he was talking about, he thought deeply and in sophisticated ways about complex issues. Again, Trump possesses none of this. As for the state of the Democratic Party, I suggest we wait 2-4 years to see what will happen. In the end, the Republicans are going to end up wearing Trump. The GOP has not been fit to govern in the US for at least the past two decades. The fact that it keeps being returned to power by American voters speaks badly of the average voter. Trump was the natural end of Republican politics; it's hard to see much future in hatred, bigotry and racism.

  193. I am not going to miss Mr. Obama.

    I thought he was a decent man, articulate and better than his awful predecessor, but he was not an effective president.

    His reflective nature did not convey the gravitas of the leader of the strongest nation in the history of mankind.

    Foremost, his lack of experience creating wealth harmed the nation disparate for jobs.

    Instead, he allowed the Federal Reserve to fiddle with interest rates the net effect of which was to transfer wealth from Main Street to Wall Street.

    Nevertheless, history may treat him better than he deserves if the incoming president replicates policies that triggered the depression or is impeached for actions that place his business interests ahead of the nation's interests.

  194. I have found myself getting teary watching coverage of each of President Obama's past several public appearances, including his eloquent farewell address, his Medal of Freedom ceremony for Vice President Biden and even his final press conference. As much as tears of sadness over the frightful path down which the incoming administration seems to be leading us, my tears have been of joy for the grace, dignity, intellect, level-headedness and compassion with which Mr. Obama has led us these past 8 years and for the excellent example he and his family have set.

    Dreading the seeming vulgarity of the coming years, I am grateful that my teenage daughters will have the Obama legacy to lean on to know how rational, decent, empathetic public discourse should be conducted.

  195. Kristof says "We’ll be craving Obama’s prudence, intellect and reserve." And certainly those of us who opposed Trump's candidacy and are terrified of his presidency will crave those traits and more. But it is precisely Trump's shiny object impulsivity, anti-intellectual stupidity and astonishing vulgarity that appeal to his supporters. They don't see an unhinged man when they read his 140 character rants. They see someone "telling it like it is." And while I admire Kristof's optimism that they will somehow see the light, I doubt it. Though perhaps once Trump and his unconscionable allies take away their healthcare and social welfare safety nets, decimate the environment and fully embrace our enemies, those who still support the least qualified president on history will see a glimmer of truth. Here's hoping that by then it won't be too late to save our democracy.