Eight years ago, we elected a black man with the name Barack Hussein Obama to be president of the United States, and I shed a tear of pride. I’ve always appreciated living in America, but the 2008 election was one of the few times I’ve felt deeply proud to be an American. Regardless of political partisanship, regardless of policy differences, regardless of anything else that divides us, the fact that in less than 50 years our country had gone from segregated drinking fountains to first black POTUS — much less one with such a foreign-sounding name — felt like a glowing testament to our nation’s ability to move forward.
I don’t expect any president to be perfect, and I appreciate anyone who brings light to that office. In that spirit, I can say it’s been an absolute joy to watch the Obamas rock the White House these past eight years.
Since the first couple celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary recently, here are 24 things we’re going to miss about the Obamas come January:
1. Their dignity and grace. These two exude class, and even if you disagree with every one of Obama’s policy positions, you can’t deny that the POTUS and FLOTUS are incredibly likable people.
2. President Obama’s unique brand of cool. I mean, he’s super smart and can even be a little nerdy, but the man’s got swagger oozing out his pores.
3. Obama’s rapport with children. The way kids steal the POTUS’s heart totally steals my heart. The photo where he leans over so the kid can touch his hair in the Oval Office? I die.
4. Obama’s willingness to tackle racial issues in America in the face of denial, accusations of “race baiting,” and the baffling assertion by certain people that talking about racism is why racism exists.
5. Obama’s diplomacy in talking about everything. I’ve never seen a politician who is more diplomatic than this president. It never ceases to amaze me.
6. The way both Barack and Michelle talk about “we” and “us.” I have always felt the pull to unite as a people from the Obamas. I appreciate that they make victories and challenges about us as a nation, and not about them.
7. How much Obama is admired and respected around the world by our allies and average citizens. He has been Gallup poll’s most admired man in the world eight years running.
8. POTUS and FLOTUS’s awesome marriage. They are true partners in every sense, and that shines through every time they are together. #relationshipgoals
9. Michelle’s moves. No question she can hold her own on the dance floor, and the fact that she dances on stage with teenagers makes her the most relatable FLOTUS ever.
10. Obama’s commitment to the advancement of women. The first piece of legislation he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, he fully funded the Violence Against Women Act, and he nominated two women — including the first Latina — to the Supreme Court. As a woman, I have never once questioned Obama’s total and complete respect for my gender.
12. Obama’s passionate and compassionate responses to national tragedies. Have you seen this write-up on his meetings with the families of Sandy Hook? Must. Read.
13. The fact that Obama has never been accused of or bragged about sexually assaulting anyone. Just saying.
14. Watching Sasha and Malia grow up. Moving into the White House with young children is tough. I can’t imagine trying to parent under those circumstances, and I’ve consistently been impressed by how they’ve managed to keep family closeness a top priority.
15. Michelle’s decidedly non-mom wardrobe. I hate to resort to the first lady clothing cliché, but it’s true. She makes me want to wear dresses. And lift weights (those arms!).
16. Obama’s witty rebuttals. I love a president with a sense of humor and quippy comebacks. I will miss his zingers.
17. Obama’s chats with late night TV hosts. Slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon? Priceless. The policy information blended with comedy has made politics refreshingly relatable.
18. Obama’s cool head. I don’t mean cool as in studly (though there’s that, too) but as in calm and collected. He brings out the passion when people are being hurt, even shedding a tear, but he always maintains an even demeanor when discussing policy.
19. Obama’s relentless “audacity of hope.” Few things have rocked my faith in humanity as much as the hateful rhetoric being flung since 2008. There’s no way POTUS and FLOTUS haven’t seen or felt that. But they press on, don’t give up, and don’t get jaded. They continually rise above the fray, speak to the goodness of people, and expound the hopeful ideals of our American democracy. It’s downright inspiring. #yeswecan
20. On a related note, the fact that Obama has never once said, “Eff this job, eff all y’all, and eff the elephant you rode in on too,” is kind of a miracle. As much as I’ve thought he’s had every justification for giving his detractors the middle finger, I’ll miss his patience and self-control.
21. Speaking of elephants, I know the obstructionists would disagree, but I’ve always been impressed with Obama’s attempts to reach across the aisle. I hate partisan politics, but his willingness to work with others has made me hate it a little less.
22. Obama playing basketball. That’s our POTUS, shooting hoops like a normal guy. I don’t know why that makes me so happy, but it does.
23. Michelle speaking from her heart. FLOTUS can command a room with her charming confidence and hit-you-in-the-feels realness that makes you want to take her out to coffee and talk about life.
24. Obama’s literal mic drop at the end of his final White House correspondents’ dinner. For years, I’ve thought he should drop the mic every time he speaks, so it was awesome to finally see it happen. “Obama out.” Love.
In a matter of weeks, President Obama will hand over the keys to our country to a new POTUS. Whatever anyone thinks about who that person is, there’s one thing we can all agree on: There will never be another president and first lady like the Obamas. They will be going out on a high note, and they will be missed.
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