Barack Obama closes the book on his presidency Tuesday,
with a farewell speech in Chicago that will try to lift
supporters felled by Donald Trump ’s shock victory .
Obama’ s last trip on Air Force One will be a pilgrimage to
his adoptive hometown, where he will address a sell - out
crowd not far from where he accepted the presidency
eight years ago .
Diehard fans — many African Americans — have braved
Chicago ’s frigid winter to collect free tickets , which now
sell for upwards of $ 1, 000 a piece on Craigslist .
The First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden
and his wife Jill Biden will come along on for the ride.
Obama’ s cross -country trek would be a sentimental trip
down memory lane , were it not slap -bang in the middle of
a tumultuous presidential handover .
Trump has smashed conventions , vowed to efface Obama’s
legacy and hurled personal insults left and right .
The 2016 election campaign has raised serious questions
about the resilience of US democracy .
In a virtually unprecedented move , US intelligence has
accused the Kremlin of tipping the electoral scales in
Trump ’ s favor.
Democrats, cast into the political wilderness with the loss
of the White House , the Senate and the House of
Representatives plus a majority of statehouses , are
struggling to regroup .
With an approval rating hovering around 55 percent,
Obama will hope to steel them for new battles ahead .
Lead speechwriter Cody Keenan said the address will be
about Obama’ s vision for where the country should still
“ It ’s not going to be like an anti -Trump speech , it ’ s not
going to be a red meat , rabble rousing thing , it will be
statesman - like but it will also be true to him ,” Keenan told
AFP . “ It will tell a story . ”
– Life after White House –
Trump ’ s unorthodox politics has thrown 55 -year -old
Obama’ s transition and post -presidency plans into flux .
Obama, having vowed a smooth handover of power , finds
himself being increasingly critical of Trump as he prepares
to leave office on January 20 .
After that there will still be a holiday and an
autobiography , but Obama could find himself being
dragged backed into the political fray if Trump were to
enact a Muslim registry or deport adults brought to the
United States years ago by their parents .
Having vowed to take a backseat in politics , Obama’s
second act could yet be as politically engaged as Jimmy
Carter — whose post -presidency has remade his image as
an elder statesman .
Many Obama aides who had planned to take exotic
holidays or launch coffer -replenishing forays into the
private sector are also reassessing their future and mulling
a return to the political trenches.
Obama’ s foundation is already gearing up for a quasi -
political role — funneling idealistic youngsters into public
– Presidential precedent –
Presidents since George Washington have delivered a
farewell address of sorts .
Washington ’ s final 7 ,641- word message — which is still
read once a year in the Senate by tradition — contained
warnings about factionalism and interference by foreign
powers that seem oddly prescient.
But speechwriter Keenan sees few obvious templates:
“ Bush and Clinton did theirs from here ( the White House ) ,
George H . W . Bush went to West Point , gave a foreign
policy speech ,” he told AFP . “ They are all totally
different . ”
The trip to Chicago is not just for nostalgia, Keenan
“ The thread that has run though his career from his days
as community organizer to the Oval Office is the idea that
if you get ordinary people together and get them educated,
get them empowered , get them to act on something , that’s
when good things happen , ” he said .
“ For him , as someone who started as a community
organizer , whose campaign was powered by young people ,
ordinary people , we decided we wanted to go back to
Chicago . ”
“ Chicago is not just his hometown, it ’s where his career
started . ”
And now it is also where Obama’s presidential career will