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Farewell with a message(Hindu.)

With just days remaining before his stint in office draws to an end, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the American people one last time in a soaring speech that highlighted his administration’s top achievements and warned his fellow citizens about rising economic inequality, simmering racial divisions and regression into intractable partisanship. Although he will demit office with one of the highest approval ratings in recent history, to get to the door he will have to step across the debris of the Democratic Party, which suffered a debacle in the November general election. No wonder that the 44th President of the U.S. used his final address to urge Americans to rebuild trust in democratic institutions by reducing the corrosive influence of money in politics and breaking the logjams of congressional dysfunction through grass-roots activism. Mr. Obama knows that the polarisation of the electorate turned even more bitter over his policy agenda. While there were a few areas where he faced relatively less resistance from Capitol Hill, including his aggressive positions on drone warfare and domestic mass surveillance, his most seminal policy achievement, the passage into law of the Affordable Care Act, was only by a sliver of a majority. And he was rebuffed on agenda points closest to his heart, including common sense gun control reform.

Mr. Obama has built an impressive legacy spanning domestic and foreign policy. Inheriting an economy buckling under a severe economic recession, he sprang into action early on in his first term and passed numerous pieces of legislation to buoy the sinking assets of American enterprise. As he pointed out in his speech, today the unemployment rate is near a ten-year low and the U.S. economy is growing again. In foreign policy Mr. Obama was justified in claiming points for the Iran nuclear agreement; on his watch Cuba was finally brought in from the cold, and the death of Osama bin Laden closed the page on a turbulent chapter of terror on U.S. soil. Mr. Obama, however, was less effective in détente with Russia and China, and his relatively soft approach imbued them with the impunity to challenge Washington across multiple arenas. Yet it is not so much the score that Mr. Obama gets for his achievements and failures that he will be remembered for as much as the man that he was. The U.S.’s first African-American president will be remembered as a thoughtful Commander-in-Chief, a leader who strived to provide a progressive template for being, and a man of the 21st century who was as comfortable with social media and popular culture as he was sensitive to searing pain of victims of gun crime or racial hate. He will be missed.


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