When Barack Obama took office eight years ago, I imagined the country changing for the worse, because that’s exactly what I’d been told by many of relatives was going to happen. (Mind you, we did celebrate his election as the first black president as a historic occasion).
Four years later, when he took office again, I believed this to a lesser extent, but I was still rooting for the other guy.
Even after he’d cemented his first and second terms, I’d practically viewed him with a sense of hostility.
I disliked seeing him on TV or hanging out with celebrity guests. I despised his family’s presence in social media, or the pictures one might see of a holiday gathering at the White House.
It took a long time for this hostility to become light irritance, which eventually became cold indifference.
Only in the last few weeks of this election cycle do I realize how ungrateful I’ve been.
As someone who disagrees with President Obama on some purely uninteresting economic policies, I believe I was allowed to support his rival in both elections, so I don’t fault for myself for that.
I fault myself for viewing him as the enemy for the eight years otherwise.
I should’ve reveled in our president’s charm. As a friend put it, he’s perhaps the “coolest” president we’ve ever had, and I’m hard-pressed to disagree.
He engaged the public and retained his dignity all at once.
His sense of confidence meant he could take a joke, and his sense of wit meant he could make one back.
It’s more fun to watch Obama roast than it is to watch him get roasted.
In a video that now carries an air of terrible irony, President Obama mocks his successor at a 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner on the issue of his questioning the president’s American citizenry.
Since Obama had just released his birth certificate, he says Trump can finally get back to the issues that matter. “Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
It’s a sense of wit that he maintained throughout his presidency.
When, at a speech, he mentioned that his current term would be his last and some Republicans applauded mockingly, he made sure to remind them that it was because he’d won twice.
The American presidency has produced more than a few verbal blunders, either because a president wasn’t a charismatic speaker or because they didn’t quite believe what they were saying.
In the campaign cycle, as I watched both candidates (but one significantly more than the other) stoop to insults and name-calling, and often awkwardly at that, I developed a new appreciation for President Obama’s ability as a public speaker.
Maybe the definitive moment I realized I’d readily take another four years of Obama’s presidency was when I began to fear for the future of our dealings with foreign leaders. President Obama was professional and presentable.
His level-headed attitude meant that a Filipino dictator could call him the “Son of a Whore” and he’d respond with practiced surprise rather than an outburst of contempt. I don’t expect this level of composure out of Trump, nor should I.
Our president-elect is a man who the media circled because of his outrageous outbursts and Twitter tantrums.
His past is marred by scandals that I suspect would’ve prevented America’s first black president from taking office. Worst of all is the fact that he built his political reputation through his attempt to tear President Obama’s down.
Of all the things I’ve come to realize about President Obama, maybe the most unfortunate is how insulting it must be to watch your office get taken by one of your loudest decriers.
So in the coming years, as President Trump undoubtedly embarrasses himself and perhaps the nation in botched meetings, insulting speeches and sudden outbursts, I will be sorely missing our 44th president.