Thank You, President Obama

     As your second term as our president draws to a close, I want to thank you, President Obama, for these eight years that you have served our nation. We did not agree on everything, and some of our disagreements, regarding abortion, for example, are profound. Yet my respect and admiration for you has only increased with time.

     Thank you for being a good husband and a good father. On your first date with Michelle, you attended a community organizer meeting, and from that day till now, you’ve always been a team. Together, you’ve invested in America from your days practicing law to acting as first family. And in every picture, it is clear to America and to the world that you love your wife with all your heart. Thank you, President Obama. Your precious daughters grew up in the White House and have matured into wonderful young women, poised to do great things. You were present with them throughout these years, prioritizing dinnertime, for example, and this in spite of the pressures and responsibilities of your office. Thank you, President Obama.

     Thank you for reminding us again and again that the “moral arc of the universe bends toward justice.” You spoke at Howard University and told those African-American students that you know there are a host of issues facing black people in this country, from police brutality to housing discrimination. But you also reminded those students that we have made so much progress as a nation and that it has never been as good a time to be a black man or woman in this nation than it is today. Thank you, President Obama.

     Thank you for your unofficial foreign policy slogan “don’t do stupid s—.” I know there are controversies regarding some of your decisions like the Iran Deal and the red line with Syria, and I myself question your use of drone warfare on ethical grounds. But I know also that the foreign policy challenges facing this nation and this world are incredibly complex, and I think you did certain things well. You opened up Cuba, lifting the decades-old embargo, after meeting secretly with Pope Francis and Castro—that’s pretty cool, and also, yay for Cuban cigars. You and Secretary Clinton made significant progress on addressing climate change when you crashed that meeting in Copenhagen and didn’t leave the rooms until negotiations were over and agreements were reached. You asked our nation to begin thinking about the development of Asia and not just focus on the Middle East. Thank you, President Obama.

     Thank you for the intentions behind Obamacare. We can quibble about implementation, we can argue about whether keeping privatized health care is best, but the simple truth is that lots and lots of people who otherwise lacked insurance were able to receive medical treatment, go through with surgeries and buy needed medications because of your efforts.

     Thank you for being graceful thus far in working with president-elect Donald Trump as he begins to transition into leadership. You, our first black president, are working with a man endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, and yet you have been kind to him such that he has expressed eagerness to seek your counsel in the years to come. Thank you, President Obama.

     Thank you for your sense of humor which you have retained despite the strains of your eight-year presidency. You made me laugh when you appeared on “The Colbert Report” and “Jimmy Fallon.” You obviously enjoyed being the butt of the Press dinner roast. You even had enough humor to release that hilarious White House video with Republican John Boehner, with whom you often clashed. Thank you, President Obama.

     Dear President Obama, I distinctly remember the day I watched you interact with those kids at the White House Science Fair (a tradition you started and which I hope your successors continue). You were having a blast and likely changing their lives forever, and I thought to myself, if I grow up to be a man like this, who is kind, gracious, loving, energetic and eager to invest in the next generation, then I will have become everything I hope to be. You inspired us by leading with integrity and grace, and we thank you, President Obama.

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