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An open letter to President Obama

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Dear President Obama:

First, a confession. You weren’t my first choice in 2007. I was for Hillary Clinton and I was annoyed with Senator Ted Kennedy when he threw his support and the Kennedy brand behind you. But my anger quickly changed to admiration. You’ve been the most inspiring political figure of my lifetime and I’m really going to miss you.

I’m going to miss that baby grand of a smile. I’m going to miss that smoker’s timber in your voice and the way you say “a” when you parse your words. I’m going to miss your wit. But most of all, I’m going to miss the grace and dignity that you and the first lady brought to the White House. Despite all of the insults and negativity you endured, I saw a loving husband and father, someone whose personal life isn't overshadowed by indiscretions and scandals, and someone who uses his intellect for the good of the country and not personal gain.

I’m pretty confident that more Americans will in time remember you the way that I do: someone who piloted the economy out of a crash landing, who helped an iconic American industry – the automobile industry – get back on its feet, and someone who recognized that millions of Americans needed help getting access to health care and did something about it.

Your support of marriage equality was an extraordinary moment in history, causing a sea-change in American culture. Your sorrow at the scenes of gun violence showed humility and compassion at this awful scourge. And your counsel to a nation still struggling with racism and social injustice has been heartfelt and courageous.

Your critics say that you should have left US troops in Iraq; that you should have intervened in Syria; and that you should have instilled more fear in our adversaries. But they mistake contemplation with weakness, and having learned nothing from decades of war, they would readily plunge the country into still more combat.

I haven’t agreed with everything you’ve done. I don't support the deportations of migrant workers and undocumented people living here. And I wish you could have done more for the Dreamers.

I fear the liberal use of drones is giving us a false sense of confidence about precision strikes and war. And I was never clear on what you envisioned for the country’s public education policy.

But in all, you’ve been a great president; someone I will admire for years to come. So long for now, President Obama.  You still inspire hope.

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