Dinsdag 15/10/2019

Obama: The Happy Warrior


BRISTOW, Va. - President Obama looked out at the sea of shivering supporters at a chilly late-night rally here and soaked in the wave of blue campaign placards and the flashing of a thousand smartphone cameras.It was 37 degrees Fahrenheit, and he warmed his left hand in his pocket even as he jabbed at the air with his right. Midnight was approaching. It was the last rally of his last campaign, and he drifted off script.

"I was backstage with David Plouffe," Mr. Obama told the crowd, referring to his political guru, who looked surprised as he stood offstage. "And we were talking about how, as the campaign goes on, we've become less relevant. I'm sort of a prop in the campaign. He's just bothering a bunch of folks, calling, asking what's going on."

Indeed, for Mr. Obama, the campaign is effectively over. Oh, there will be a final round of rallies, a final frenetic swing through swing states and plenty of Plouffe phone calls asking what is going on. But the machinery they have assiduously put in place over four years is now on remote control. The campaign is out of their hands, and so is the fate of the 44th president.

Win, and he has a chance to secure a legacy as a president who made a mark not simply by virtue of his original barrier-breaking election but also by transforming America in his image - for the better, he hopes; for the worse, his critics fear. Lose, and he becomes an avatar of hope and change who could not fulfill his own promise and whose programs might not survive his remarkable rise and fall.

It is in moments like these that nostalgia takes hold for a president on the precipice. With each passing day, aides said, Mr. Obama has taken note every time he passes a milestone.

"This is my last debate prep practice," he said at Camp David. "This is my last walk-through," he said, touring a debate stage. "This is my last debate," he said after squaring off a third time with Mitt Romney. The "lasts" piled up on a bone-weary final weekend as he raced from Ohio to Wisconsin, Iowa to Virginia, New Hampshire to Florida and back to Ohio, then Colorado and Wisconsin again. What he hopes most is that these are not the last days of his presidency.

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