REPORTS

'Yes we can': Obama's complex legacy

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

An emotional Barack Obama says farewell after eight years in the Oval Office.

In 2008, the charismatic little known Senator from Chicago defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic party's nomination.

Then a surprise landslide win over Republican Senator John McCain made him America's first black president.

Rev. Jesse Jackson said "That's a big moment in history and it suggests that if we can become president, we can become generals of the military, we can become president of Harvard. There is no position in America we cannot hold."

Taking office shortly after the economic crisis and the government bank bailout, Obama introduced an $800 billion stimulus plan.

As he leaves the White House, nearly 6 million Americans have been put back to work.

Two years into his first term came his historic healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

But Republicans who were staunchly opposed to it have started to repeal it even before he leaves office.

Donald Trump, US President-elect said "You're going to be very proud of what we put forth having to do with health care. 'Obamacare' is a complete and total disaster."

Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, but he ultimately failed to deliver on his promise to end wars.

He reduced the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but will leave the woes of a civil war in Syria to the next president.

Obama's second term began in a political climate more divisive than ever.

He resorted to issuing a series of executive orders to strengthen gun laws, normalize relations with Cuba, and expand protection for certain illegal immigrants - called DREAMers.

Despite an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay, it remains open.

"He had a gale force headwind against doing anything. We have not seen the kind of partisan tribalism that Obama faced. // He's often criticized for not working with Congress enough." Norm Ornstein, AEI said.

On the international stage, Obama did reestablish the US as a key player in the fight for climate change. His administration also counts as a success a controversial deal with Iran aimed at reducing nuclear weapons.

But back at home, calls to improve relations among minorities seemed to have done little at a time when racial tensions run high in the US.

Echoing these pleas in his final address, Obama says he will remain in DC for now and continue working to unify the country.

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