The paint hasn’t quite dried on this press conference, which is still live-streaming at press time (video below), but there is something noteworthy — almost remarkable — about the tone and tenor of the president’s remarks.
The face is familiar enough, but the words are unlike any you have heard from Barack Obama since he first took the oath of office in 2008 and before. The feistiness and arrogance are gone, but they are not supplanted by a sense of grim resignation. Instead, he speaks dispassionately and forthrightly about the passing on of the scepter to his successor, leaving one to wonder where this person has been all these years.
Especially notable are his comments on the fate of his signature legislative coup, Obamacare. He outlines some of the fundamental features of the law he signed in 2010 — among them the restriction against withholding payment on pre-existing conditions and allowiing parents to keep their children on their familt plans until age 26 (both of which, note, are features of several alternatives to the law that the GOP-led Congresss sent to Obama’s desk and which were summarily vetoed). He wonders about their status under a new administration. But he also addresses the reality that a replacement law could be an improvement on the current one and wishes President-elect Trump success in achieving that reality.
After all the belicosity and mockery, it’s hard to put aside the damage Obama has wrought on the fabric of our nation. But if he had found the voice of reason sooner, he would have been a far more popular figure with the right and might have actually influenced hearts and minds rather than just spleens.