Given the racially tinged opposition he faced, it’s hard to make the case that Obama could have accomplished a great deal more either by being tougher or more gentle. Yet for someone who saw himself as a political bridge, the inability to produce any durable consensus must count as a tremendous disappointment. His faith in transcending partisanship, in the face of all evidence, stands as both inspirational and somewhat naïve….
Ten years ago, Obama told me that establishing universal health care should be his party’s highest priority and that he worried about the lack of economic opportunity driving racial polarization. Listening to the powerful farewell address he delivered in Chicago last week, I was struck the remarkable consistency of his views and his approach. Despite the ways in which his worst fears have been borne out, he has remained rock steady in his calm application of reason, his respect for opponents who haven’t much respected him, and his methodical pursuit of common ground. Obama’s absence of bitterness is remarkable. He leaves a legacy of integrity, eloquence, and patient commitment in this dark hour of American politics.