Instant Analysis: President Obama’s Valedictory Address

I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t a valedictory address given by the high school kid with the best grades? It is but the term is an expansive one that includes any kind of farewell speech. Besides, Barack Obama *is* the smartest kid in the class, not just the one with the best grades. He’s about to be succeeded by the village idiot and we’re all the poorer for that. I suspect the electoral college winner is in a rage tweeting, press conference cancelling mood right now.

From the cheering crowd to the rhetoric, the speech was vintage Obama in three acts.  The first act wherein he listed his accomplishments in office was the least successful. It was good but it was too much like a campaign speech.

The meat of the speech was when the President discussed the challenges that face the country as he leaves office. It included a series of implicit criticisms of the Insult Comedian and his band of not so merry B3 Brownshirts. There were two passages that were particularly meaningful to me:

“If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle-class and an undeserving minority then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.”

That passage is both a look back at the kind of campaign Trump ran as well as a preview of coming attractions. The Insult Comedian himself has withdrawn to his Manhattan penthouse since the day our national nightmare began; only emerging to be adored by the mugs he conned during the campaign.

Back to the speech:

“Democracy can buckle when it gives in to fear. So just as we as citizens must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are,” he said, citing his efforts to fight terrorism on firmer legal and moral ground. “That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans who are just as patriotic as we are.”

Fearmongering is nothing new in American political history. In the past, we’ve bounced back and the President believes we can do so again. I wish I were as optimistic as he is but that’s why he’s a leader and I’m a blogger. I’m inclined to agree with my publisher:

The final act of the speech was a thank you to his staff, supporters, Veep, and most of all his amazing wife. POTUS is not Mr. Spock when talking about FLOTUS: he got verklempt and wiped some tears from his eyes. That was the moment when I got bit choked up myself: thinking about what we’re losing and what we’re about to confront.

The change from Obama to Trump may be the wildest Presidential personality change the nation has experienced since the extroverted lightweight Warren Gamaliel Harding succeeded the austere intellectual Woodrow Wilson. Harding, however, was a nice man who knew he was in over his head. The next occupant of the Oval Office  is an asshole who thinks he knows everything when, in fact, he knows nothing.

The President’s farewell speech was another in a long line of outstanding speeches. This President needs an audience whilst orating. He feeds off their energy and it makes him a more eloquent speaker. It’s one thing he has in common with the Insult Comedian who, while lacking even rudimentary eloquence, is also a showman who likes the roar of the crowd.

Barack Obama wore well as President. It’s one reason why his approval ratings are as high as he leaves the arena as when he became President 8 years ago. Additionally, he’s run one of the cleanest, most ethical administrations in American history. That’s unlikely to be said about his successor whose administration is mired in scandal before the inauguration.

Thank you President Obama for your service and common decency. The latter is about to be in short supply in our nation’s capitol. I’ll give Athenae the last word or is that tweet?

 

 

 

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