President Obama's Legacy And Farewell

Email a Friend
President Barack Obama waves on stage with first lady Michelle Obama, daughter Malia, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden after his farewell address at McCormick Place in Chicago. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

President Obama bids farewell. We'll weigh his message from Chicago and his years in the White House.

American presidents say farewell, and last night it was Barack Obama's turn. It was not the speech he might have given if Hillary Clinton had won. Back in Chicago, site of his triumph eight years ago, President Obama essentially called for the defense of democracy against the politics of president-elect Donald Trump. Not by name, but by trait. And called on the American people to defend the American constitution. This hour On Point, sizing up President Obama and his Chicago farewell. — Tom Ashbrook


Jonathan Chait, senior writer for New York Magazine. Author of the new book, "Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics And Created A Legacy That Will Prevail." (@jonathanchait)

Jamelle Bouie, chief political correspondent for Slate. (@jbouie)

Mollie Hemmingway, senior editor at the Federalist. (@MZHemingway)

From Tom's Reading List

New York: Barack Obama's Legacy Is More Secure Than You, or the GOP, Think — "Barack Obama is one of a handful of presidents with transformative domestic legacies. Some of those presidents, like Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, left their office to a chosen successor who carried forward their vision. Lyndon Johnson saw his popularity dissipate in response to a failed war. Abraham Lincoln was murdered, and his successor, Andrew Johnson, was a pro-slavery southern Democrat who abhorred Lincoln's vision. There is no precedent for a departing chief executive like Barack Obama."

Slate: The Obama Paradox — "Now, on the eve of his farewell address, 10 days before the inauguration of Donald Trump, the most celebrated speech of Obama's career hits the ears a little differently, as does the sermon that necessitated it. What the Jeremiah Wright of 'God Damn America' lacked in admiration for the country, he made up for in clarity about its nature and its sins. He refused to look away from the dark corners of American history, or treat them as mere 'zags' on the road to progress. He was clear-eyed about racism as a motive force in American life. He knew we cannot escape our history."

The Federalist: 10 Things The Right Can Teach The Left About Accepting The Reality Of Trump — "It's been nearly two months since Donald Trump won the 2016 election for president of the United States but somehow that's not been enough time for the reality to sink in for many political liberals. Yes, presidential elections have been emotional for some time. I can vouch for how sad if not depressed many conservatives were when Mitt Romney lost his bid to unseat President Obama in 2012. If you didn't already know that, it's probably just because you don't know many conservatives. The media never for a moment considered how heartbreaking that loss was for many Americans worried about the direction of the country."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit