I would probably tell myself to communicate more effectively early on than I did. It wasn’t as great as it seems in retrospect—there’s always rose-colored glasses but there’s no doubt that we captured the country’s imagination.
And somehow in those first two years, I think a certain arrogance crept in, in the sense of thinking as long as we get the policy ready, we didn’t have to sell it.\n One thing I learned through some tough election cycles: You can’t separate good policy from the need to bring the American people along and make sure that they know why you’re doing what you’re doing.
dreamed, over time he may be judged less for the color of his skin than for the content of his character. He was the Leader not only of our country but of our mood and disposition, which is harder to rule.
That character came across every time haters or Trumpers or birthers tried to pull him down into the mud or question his American-ness. At a time when we became more polarized, our discourse pettier and more poisoned, Obama always came across as the Adult in the Room, the one we wanted to be and follow.\n Ironically, one of the lock-ins to his Hall of Fame Greatness was originally supposed to be his Achilles’ heel, the shallow thing critics loved to smear him with: his eloquence, his “reliance” on speeches and teleprompters (Sarah Palin once famously screeched, “Mr. (George was first with )\n With Obama, each thoughtful step of the way, from his soaring acceptance speech (“The road ahead will be long.
So there was never a point, even early on—even in the first six months, where we weren’t sure whether we were going to dip into another Great Depression, we weren’t sure whether the steps we were taking on rescuing the auto industry or stabilizing the financial system were going to work—there weren’t moments where I thought, “Sheesh, feels like we’re in over our head.”\n But what I didn’t fully appreciate, and nobody can appreciate until they’re in the position, is how decentralized power is in this system. (We just won’t build Mount Rushmores anymore.) In so many ways, Obama was better than we imagined, better than the body politic deserved, and far, far better than his enemies will ever concede, but the great thing about being great is that the verdict of enemies doesn’t matter.\n In fact, and I say this as a Bill Clinton fan, I now feel certain that, in the coming decades, Obama’s star will rise higher than Clinton’s, and he’ll replace Bill in the public mind as the Greatest Democrat since FDR.\n This has to do with the nature of Obama’s leadership, which is to play to legacy (and Clinton’s impulse, which is to play to the room).Because the first rule of Hall of Fame-dom: The times have to suck for the president not to.(It’s also hard to imagine many beating Obama at the game.) This year’s carnival election, with Trump as a kind of debauched circus barker, only makes the distinction clearer.The absurdity and car-crash spectacle of it all have already lent Obama an out-of-time quality, as if he were a creature from another, loftier century.