Tonight, Barack Obama will bring a close to his tenure as the 44th president of the United States with a speech in Chicago. It’s strange that we’re already here, not just because it’s yet another reminder of how quickly eight years can go by. It’s strange because Obama will leave office in a haze of uncertainty, both about what will follow him and what Obama himself will do when he continues his work as a civilian.
For as truly weird as it is to consider Barack Obama a civilian, he’s just a human being like the rest of us. (Assuming the illuminati isn’t a thing and lizard people aren’t either, at any rate.) He gets into the same pop music and TV phenomena as the rest of us, and unlike a lot of past presidents who carefully guarded their private lives from the public, Obama has been one of the most accessible presidents of the modern era.
Sure, that’s as much a function of the rising Internet as anything else, but Obama understood something that future presidents will need to understand and that the next one in line very clearly hasn’t figured out so far: there’s little divide left between the internet self and the real person. The “second life” is as real to America and its social and political processes as reality, whether we like it or not, and Obama knew that to disclose just a little more was to truly be a man of the people in this age.
Consequence of Sound has heavily chronicled Obama’s work, especially when it pertained to the legion of essential musicians who passed through the White House during his tenure, or the artists with whom he’s surrounded himself since the beginning of 2009. Hell, this was the president who ran a music festival at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
We know of his accomplishments and shortcomings alike as the President, but we also know that he was into Homeland for a while, and we knew what was on his iPod while he was trying to fix this whole mess. In a way, it made people feel a little closer to Obama than Bill Clinton’s cool-guy posturing with a saxophone ever did. Maybe that’s just calculated perception, but it mattered in this moment, at this time.
With that, we’ve taken the liberty of piecing together some of our favorite news articles about the president over the past eight years, to look back and to share our gratitude for what was always imperfect, but what we’ll generally call a job well done.