BY DAVID LIGHTMAN
Barack Obama promised hope and change when he became the nation’s 44th president eight years ago. He delivered on the change, but leaves a nation still struggling for hope.
He departs office after leading the United States out of its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and as the country enjoys its most robust economy in years.
His policies helped revive the auto industry, clamp down on financial industry abuses and provide health insurance coverage to millions. And his very ascension to the White House “sent a strong signal about America as the land of opportunity,” said former South Carolina Gov. James Hodges, a Democrat.
Yet Obama leaves not with a country united and eager for what comes next, but one divided between rural and urban, left and right, lower-skilled workers and the more educated. Huge numbers of people are not confident about their financial futures. They’re deeply concerned about whether the government can keep them safe. Overwhelming numbers of Republicans continue to dismiss Obama as too liberal and out of touch.
The Republican-led Congress and President-elect Donald Trump see Obamacare as emblematic of much that’s gone wrong, a costly big-government disaster spawning higher premiums and less quality care.
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In countries key to the president’s legacy, people express profound disappointment in a man from whom they expected great things.
By NAHAL TOOSI
Back in 2008, the same qualities in the 47-year-old senator from Illinois that excited U.S. voters enthralled people around the globe. He was a fresh face and a compelling orator. He had spent his childhood in the Asia-Pacific, and his skin color alone made billions of people feel a connection with him. Perhaps most importantly, he was not George W. Bush, the president who invaded Iraq. Obama promised “hope” and “change” and people believed he could deliver—that he would end wars in Muslim countries, improve America’s standing on human rights, even alleviate global poverty. “Yes we can!” shouted The Age, an Australian newspaper, when he won office. Just months later, the rookie president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a nod more to his promise than to anything he had accomplished.
Obama’s overseas poll numbers were stratospheric in those early days. In countries like France and Germany, more than 90 percent of people surveyed by the Pew Research Center expressed confidence that Obama would “do the right thing regarding world affairs.” Even in some Middle Eastern countries, where U.S. presidents are rarely liked, nearly half of the populace had high expectations for Obama.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/07/barack-obama-world-popularity-cuba-egypt-ukraine-bbc-documentary-214032#ixzz4E0hrfmBh