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Honor and Effort: What President Obama Achieved in Eight Years

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WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 29: U.S. President Barack Obama smiles while speaking during the 36th annual National Italian American Foundation Gala October 29, 2011 in Washington, DC. President Barack Obama delivered the keynote address at the awards gala which is part of a two-day convention for the organization. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

The following is an excerpt from David Von Drehle | December 22, 2016 | Time.com |

And what he didn't

Barack Obama entered the White House as something new in American history. He wasn’t chosen on the basis of experience, nor for his role as leader of a party or a movement. He had not been a governor or a general or a veteran legislator. He did not become president by the accident of his predecessor’s death in office.

Obama was elected purely for himself—his message, his persona and what he symbolized. In 48 brief months, he rose from the obscurity of a state legislature to become the first Democrat in more than three decades to win more than half of the popular vote. Messenger and message were inseparable; he offered himself as Exhibit A in the case for hope and change. Obama was a mirror in which millions of people saw their cherished ideals reflected: tolerance, cooperation, equality, justice.

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