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) Thankfully, we’ve had some help in putting together our time capsule, including from the president, who sat down in August with Jonathan Chait to discuss some critical moments of his tenure.
Probably the best signifier of that was when Chicago had the bid for the 2016 Olympics and a committee had flown to Copenhagen to make their presentation.
The man who took that oath of office seemed cut from American folklore — a neophyte politician elected senator only four years before, a prodigious and preacherly orator from the “Land of Lincoln” and the South Side of Chicago of the Great Migration.
An embodiment not just of the American Dream as it had been imagined by the Greatest Generation of his own maternal grandparents but of a new version, too, one that might be embraced by his daughters — global, utopian-ish, post-boomer, “post-racial.” More than “hope,” Obama’s candidacy promised “one America.” It is the deep irony of his presidency, and for Obama himself probably the tragedy, that the past eight years saw the country fiercely divided against itself.
The timeline, too — essentially a litany of events, some major and others telling but trivial — is painfully selective (to us, and probably you).
And it only goes so far — to the present, that is, when the president, like the rest of us, watches uneasily over the final weeks of a very unsettling campaign that even he describes as a referendum on his presidency and the profound cultural changes that came with it.