He’s possibly America’s coolest president yet. Even as the USA elected a new president, the world looked at America’s first African-American president with respect — again. The enduring esteem for Barack Obama is a testament to what he brought to politics. A rare contemporary politician who exemplifies idealism with wisdom and grace. Obama has been a phenomenon of our times and the culmination of many eras before. His complex, troubled identity — mixed-race in what is clearly not a post-racial America today, and what was a violently segregated society when Obama was born — burdened the young Barack’s shoulders. But he shook off his burden and reached, instead, for a dream.
Courageously studying his way out of despair, involving himself in community work, Obama realised the American dream, where an outsider, who watched the riches and rituals of American life with longing, and slept on the pavements of New York, could become president of the USA. With his soul-stirring writing and extraordinary speeches that framed an individual and a society rising above themselves, Obama made America and the world realise idealism didn’t have to be either naive or dead.
Remarkably, despite his profound significance, Obama never let things get heavy. In fact, he exemplified American cool, from his drawling humour to his dancing sprees (he’s improved from his Mumbai bhangra to his recent rendition of Thriller at Halloween), his palpable warmth, his joy in food (relishing American burgers to Vietnamese soups), in basketball games with chilled beers, in marvellous books and wondrous songs, in the all-American romance of “date nights”. Obama even announced his presidency’s end with a typical Barack-ism. “Obama out,” said America’s president, dropping his mic to the ground in The Tonight Show. Farewell, President Obama.