Pres­i­dent gives an emo­tional farewell

Houston Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By Josh Lederman and Darlene Superville

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama de­liv­ered a nos­tal­gic and hope­ful farewell ad­dress Tues­day, but urged both the di­vided coun­try he led for eight years and his suc­ces­sor not to shrink from chal­lenges.

CHICAGO — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama bid farewell to the na­tion on Tues­day in an emo­tional speech that sought to com­fort a coun­try on edge over rapid eco­nomic changes, per­sis­tent se­cu­rity threats and the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump.

Force­ful at times and tear­ful at oth­ers, Obama’s vale­dic­tory speech in his home­town of Chicago was a pub­lic med­i­ta­tion on the many tri­als the U.S. faces as Obama takes his exit. For the chal­lenges that are new, Obama of­fered his vi­sion for how to sur­mount them, and for the per­sis­tent prob­lems he was un­able to over­come, he of­fered op­ti­mism that oth­ers, even­tu­ally, will.

“Yes, our progress has been un­even,” Obama told a crowd of some 18,000. “The work of democ­racy has al­ways been hard, con­tentious and some­times bloody. For ev­ery two steps for­ward, it of­ten feels we take one step back.”

Yet Obama ar­gued his faith in Amer­ica had only been strength­ened by what he’s wit­nessed the past eight years, and he de­clared: “The fu­ture should be ours.”

Brushing away tears with a hand­ker­chief, Obama paid trib­ute to the sac­ri­fices made by his wife — and by his daugh­ters, who were young girls when they en­tered the big white home on Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue and leave as young women.

He praised first lady Michelle Obama for tak­ing on her role “with grace and grit and style and good hu­mor.”

Even as Obama said farewell — in a tele­vised speech of just un­der an hour — the anx­i­ety felt by many Amer­i­cans about the fu­ture was pal­pa­ble. The po­lit­i­cal world was reel­ing from new rev­e­la­tions about an un­sub­stan­ti­ated re­port that Rus­sia had com­pro­mis­ing per­sonal and fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion about Trump.

When he noted he would soon be re­placed by the Repub­li­can, his crowd be­gan to boo.

“No, no, no, no, no,” Obama said. One of the na­tion’s great strengths, he said, “is the peace­ful trans­fer of power from one pres­i­dent to the next.”

Ear­lier, as the crowd of thou­sands chanted, “Four more years,” he sim­ply smiled and said, “I can’t do that.”

Still, Obama of­fered what seemed like a point-by-point re­but­tal of Trump’s vi­sion for Amer­ica.

He pushed back on the iso­la­tion­ist sen­ti­ments in­her­ent in Trump’s trade poli­cies. He de­cried dis­crim­i­na­tion against Mus­lim Amer­i­cans and lamented politi­cians who ques­tion cli­mate change. And he warned about the per­ni­cious threat to U.S. democ­racy posed by fake “news.”

Brian Cassella / Chicago Tri­bune

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ac­knowl­edges the crowd with first lady Michelle Obama, daugh­ter Malia, Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and his wife Jill Bi­den af­ter his farewell ad­dress in Chicago on Tues­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.