Thanks, Obama (seriously)

There’s two kinds of charisma — one is the bad kind, the charisma of the narcissist or sociopath. These are the people who live to manipulate and use others, and so they develop A+ talents for appealing to peoples’ desires and expectations.

Then there’s the good kind of charisma — the charisma that comes from being a remarkable person who genuinely approaches some of the best aspects of what it can mean to be human. That’s the charisma of Barack Obama, and it comes not from a teleprompter but from his unique signature combination of acute intelligence, integrity, and indefatigable optimism.

I don’t know what the historical verdict on Obama will be. I kind of fear that his eight years will become acknowledged as the period in which it became clear that the President was given a car to drive in which the steering wheel was disconnected from the drive train. But I think, at the very least, his eloquence, dignity, and good humor in the face of disgustingly mean spirited and childish opposition will always be admired.

I fear as do many others that we are heading into dark and uncertain times in America with the imminent usurper. But Barack Obama is just 55, younger than any ex-President in a long time. More than Hillary Clinton, more than Bernie Sanders, more than any other Democrat, he has the track record, the prestige, the mind and the heart to stand up as a voice for what is right in these wrong years to come. Great ex-Presidents have the status to be a vital part of our civic discourse and I think Barack is far from done with American public life.

I haven’t always agreed with Obama on everything, nor would I expect to. But I have admired the grace with which he’s occupied the office. And with regard to the rest of the world, I’ve been unreservedly proud to have him represent me as my President. I’m not sure that there will be another President about whom I can say that in my lifetime.