Monday, January 9, 2017

We’re on verge of Obama finale

I find it somewhat amusing to see the amount of attention being paid to the fact that Barack Obama will soon no longer be president.
The next time Barack and Michelle Obama check out Chicago, it will be as D.C.-residing tourists. Photograph provided by the White House

All presidents are meant to be replaced, and Obama managed to win himself election to the post twice – the maximum allowed. Which is a good thing – no one should last too long in that particular post.

IN FACT, THE reality is that it is a good thing that political posts rotate around various political parties – neither of which should ever have total control. Not even Democrats, who in all honesty don’t do as much harm because they’re usually incapable of working together.

Which means that the real threat to our federal government during the next two (perhaps four) years isn’t that we elected Donald J. Trump as president. It is that we elected so many knuckleheads of the GOP persuasion to serve in the Senate and House of Representatives.

People who will be willing to rubber-stamp Trump’s egomaniacal actions so long as they coincide with their own partisan desires. Trump’s blow-hard tendencies wouldn’t be a threat if there was someone willing to stand up to him.

Which may well be why many people are so willing to make a big deal out of Obama’s departure. It will be the last bit of celebration that many of us will have in connection to our federal government for years to come.

WE LITERALLY HAD Michelle Obama make an appearance on Friday that was billed as her last public event as “first lady.” Then on Saturday, people were queued up as early as 6 a.m. all lined up to get the free tickets being issued to the Tuesday event at the McCormick Place convention center that is being billed as Barack Obama’s last public appearance as president.

For every crackpot out there whose political partisanship wants him to denounce this as the ultimate political non-event, there are the masses who truly want to hear one last bit of wisdom from the lone president our city has produced.
It has been quite a while since that moment in Metropolis (the version in Illinois). Photograph provided by Obama for America campaign

Personally, I think those people who are now expressing a willingness to pay mass amounts of money to get tickets from those who got the freebie passes given away during the weekend are a bit foolish.

I wouldn’t pay anything, particularly not the several thousands of dollars that some are asking for in order to be able to say they were there when Obama gave his national farewell.

EVEN THOUGH I’LL admit to feeling a twinge of regret that the Obama years are now over. Obama is someone I have been aware of since he first got elected to the state Senate (I was still a Statehouse reporter back then, and our times in Springfield overlapped by three years).

In fact, I still remember the first time I was introduced to the man – it was on the January 1997 day when he was first sworn in as a legislator. We were given a brief “hello” and handshake, and the token offer of “doing lunch” someday – which never actually happened.

Maybe I’m just the pinhead who didn’t fully appreciate the significance of the man I was meeting. Because I suspect that of all the people I have encountered during some two decades of writing about the Chicago and Illinois political scenes, Obama is most likely the only one of them with the ability and ambition to become U.S. president.

And now, all of that is over. A Hillary Clinton presidency would have given us someone born in Chicago and raised in its suburbs, but it wouldn’t have been the same for Chicago as the Obama years have been.

HILLARY, AFTER ALL, did leave us to attend college, then follow her husband, Bill, to Arkansas.
How many figured the one-time legislator from Hyde Park would become an admired (and reviled) chief executive? Photograph provided by Obama for America campaign.

It will be interesting to hear what, if anything of significance, he has to say on Tuesday. Personally, I’m not expecting something too profound!

It may well be a ceremonial farewell. A chance to say “Goodbye,” while the followers engage in one last chant of “Oh-Bah-Mah! Oh-Bah-Mah!!!”

While that 46 percent segment of the nation that actually voted for Trump to be president will shudder in disgust, then come up with a whole bunch of lame reasons why they think the next four years will be an improvement – even if it turns to be a loss of health insurance and a whole series of other actions that harm their own personal interests.


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