Legendary journalist Dan Rather has made his influence known through the power of social media by spreading his thoughts on America’s political system. Rather’s posts typically garner hundreds of thousands of interactions and his analysis of President Barack Obama’s farewell address is a genuine tear-jerker.
Rather began by reminding his audience that no previous president was anything like Obama, who is surely as unique an individual as will ever be found occupying the Oval Office:
Whatever you think of the presidency of Barack Obama, and I know there are many who think of him as one of our greatest presidents and others with a distinctly differing opinion, I think we can all safely say he was unlike any man who has ever occupied the office of President of the United States. And I cannot imagine anyone quite like him in the future.
The post continued by outlining the differences Rather saw in Obama over the course of eight years. When Obama came into office he believed anything was possible and that he could fix all of the problems in the world. Now, after dealing with Republican obstruction for eight years Obama surely has a different outlook, but he never lost his class or grace:
Tonight we saw a man of dignity, chastened by the reality of Washington and speaking in the shadows of a presidential election that leaves his legacy deeply threatened and seems to still be spiraling into uncharted territory. This was not the young Senator who bounded upon the world stage with unbridled optimism in a belief we could easily overcome all that divides us. This was a man humbled by experience, but still summoning a deep faith in the basic strength of our democratic traditions. He spoke of the accomplishments of which he was most proud, but he then shifted into a remarkable stretch where he highlighted all the challenges ahead. He almost sounded like a candidate for office, undoubtedly frustrated by the forces he felt were arrayed against him.
He spoke deeply about race, the undercurrent that coursed beneath his presidency as it has through all of American history. He spoke sympathetically of white Americans who feel worried and marginalized, but he then turned forcibly to a sense of all the racial progress left to be done and an inclusive outreach to immigrants. It was one America, perhaps without some of the naivete of his famed speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. It seems to me that this will be his message going forward, combatting what he called the “great sorting” of self-isolation according to cultural, region, religious, and ethnic lines.
In an era of President-elect Trump asserting information which is not true to be a fact, the nation will surely be at a loss when Obama leaves office. Rather pointed out the resounding applause Obama received when he confirmed that despite Trump’s rhetoric the world still believes in facts:
One of his biggest applause line was that “science and reason matter.” He spoke passionately about his worry for a nation that increasingly assigns the notions of “facts” to partisan battle. And his section on climate change, the shamefully ignored issue of the last election, was particularly strong. It was a section that resonated with me personally, a belief that science and reason must be the path forward for our nation to thrive and prosper. It echoed a quote I just saw from Thomas Jefferson: “In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.”
Rather concluded by saying Obama’s work is not yet complete, and that history will not yet fully judge him:
How will history judge this man and his tenure is a question none of us can fully answer. It depends not only what has happened but on what has yet to occur. And I suspect President Obama will have a hand, a strong hand, in shaping this destiny.
The United States, its people, and the entire world will be lesser off without Barack Obama as the president. He came into office on the wings of the worst presidency in decades. The entire world’s credit markets were frozen, the global economy was in freefall, and the United States was losing over 700,000 jobs every single month.
Not only did Obama stop the bleeding, but he presided over years of job growth, and watched the stock market reach its highest point in its history. Millions of Americans now have access to healthcare, gay people can get married and serve in the armed services, the Iraq war is over, and Osama bin Laden is dead. Let’s see Trump try to beat that with a stick.
Read Rather’s full post:
Watch Obama’s full farewell address: