Obama

A virtual museum of his presidency

Through a collection of deeply reported stories, videos, photographs, documents and graphics, experience Barack Obama’s historic time in office: as the first black president, as commander in chief, as a domestic and foreign policymaker, and as a husband and father.

Continue to the gallery of stories or keep reading: Obama will have pushed through one of the most ambitious environmental agendas in U.S. history. Is it helping?.

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Obama’s Legacy Obama’s America

Obama will have pushed through one of the most ambitious environmental agendas in U.S. history. Is it helping?

The president realized in his second term “that to win on climate you can’t avoid a fight.”

On the night in early June 2008 when Barack Obama had finally won enough contests to secure the Democratic nomination for president, he marked the momentous occasion with a prediction.

“I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” he said at a campaign rally in St. Paul, Minn. on the last night of voting of that primary season. Obama had made history by winning the nomination, and that night he spoke from the same stage where John McCain, his GOP rival, would accept his party’s nomination that September.

Obama’s rhetoric about his impact on the Earth struck some as grandiose and fanciful. The line was mocked by critics, and by every scientific measure the planet’s precarious situation has gotten worse, not better since he made that claim.

Each year of Obama’s presidency so far has been among the top 10 hottest years on record. In 2015, the United States saw the most wildfires in recorded history. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide — the best measure of the global increase in heat-trapping gases — continue to rise. So do sea levels.

Projected global temperature rise

scenario ranges

Even if the world meets all energy pledges by the year 2100, the planet will still be hotter than global goals. In December, 195 nations pledged in Paris that they would set goals to keep global temperatures “well below” a 2-degrees-Celsius rise compared to pre-industrial levels. Ideally, according to the accord, this temperature rise would be limited to 1.5 degrees C.

BASELINE (Projected warming with no policies)

200

GtCO₂e

Range of 83 - 175 GtCO₂e

(4.1 to 4.8 degrees C)

150

Historic

trend

line

100

50

Ideal 1.5 degree C

temperature change

0

-50

’90

’15

2100

The Clean Power Plan

is announced August 2015.

CURRENT POLICY PROJECTIONS

200

GtCO₂e

150

Range of 58 - 85 GtCO₂e

(3.3 to 3.9 degrees C)

100

50

0

-50

’90

’15

2100

IF PLEDGES MET BY ALL COUNTRIES

200

GtCO₂e

150

100

Range of 23 - 33 GtCO₂e

(2.4 to 2.7 degrees C)

50

0

-50

’90

’15

2100

Sources: Sierra Club; Energy Information

Administration; Climate Action Tracker

STEPHANIE STAMM/THE WASHINGTON POST

Projected global temperature rise scenario ranges

BASELINE (Projected warming with no policies)

200

GtCO₂e

Range of 83 - 175 GtCO₂e

(4.1 to 4.8 degrees C)

Even if the world meets all energy pledges by the year 2100, the planet will still be hotter than global goals. In December, 195 nations pledged in Paris that they would set goals to keep global temperatures “well below” a 2-degrees-Celsius rise compared to pre-industrial levels. Ideally, according to the accord, this temperature rise would be limited to 1.5 degrees C.

150

Historic trend line

100

50

Ideal 1.5 degree C

temperature change

0

-50

’90

’15

2100

The Clean Power Plan is announced August 2015.

CURRENT POLICY PROJECTIONS

IF PLEDGES MET BY ALL COUNTRIES

200

GtCO₂e

200

GtCO₂e

150

150

Range of 58 - 85 GtCO₂e

(3.3 to 3.9 degrees C)

100

100

Range of 23 - 33 GtCO₂e

(2.4 to 2.7 degrees C)

50

50

0

0

-50

-50

’90

’15

2100

’90

’15

2100

Sources: Sierra Club; Energy Information Administration; Climate Action Tracker

STEPHANIE STAMM/THE WASHINGTON POST

Projected global temperature rise scenario ranges

Even if the world meets all energy pledges by the year 2100, the planet will still be hotter than global goals. In December, 195 nations pledged in Paris that they would set goals to keep global temperatures “well below” a 2-degrees-Celsius rise compared to pre-industrial levels. Ideally, according to the accord, this temperature rise would be limited to 1.5 degrees C.

BASELINE (Projected warming with no policies)

CURRENT POLICY PROJECTIONS

IF PLEDGES MET BY ALL COUNTRIES

200 gigaton greenhouse

gas emissions

200

GtCO₂e

Range of 83 - 175 GtCO₂e

(4.1 to 4.8 degrees C)

150

150

Historic trend line

Range of 58 - 85 GtCO₂e

(3.3 to 3.9 degrees C)

100

100

Range of 23 - 33 GtCO₂e

(2.4 to 2.7 degrees C)

50

50

Ideal 1.5 degree C

temperature change

0

0

-50

-50

’90

’15

2100

’90

’15

2100

’90

’15

2100

The Clean Power

Plan is announced

August 2015.

Sources: Sierra Club; Energy Information Administration; Climate Action Tracker

STEPHANIE STAMM/THE WASHINGTON POST

As these indicators worsened during the course of his first term, many environmentalists complained that Obama was too focused on the ailing economy and not sufficiently interested in passing legislation that would have imposed nationwide limits on greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the president and some aides were laying the groundwork for these cuts — but played down their significance.

Several members of the president’s inner circle were worried that pressing too hard on environmental issues in the midst of a deep recession could be politically costly. Although the Democratic-controlled House managed in the summer of 2009 to narrowly pass legislation that would have adopted a cap-and-trade system to help curb greenhouse gas emissions nationally, the bill stalled in the Senate as Democrats focused on passing the Affordable Care Act instead.

But Lisa Jackson, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency, pressed ahead with a series of public health and auto-efficiency rules that — coupled with broader energy market trends — helped cut greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

In 2009, the EPA reached a deal with the U.S. auto industry, which had just been bailed out by the federal government, to impose the first-ever carbon limits on cars and light trucks. The agency implemented a mercury and air toxic standard in 2011, which was 21 years in the making and required tighter pollution controls on many power plants. It also issued a Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which further cut emissions, along with multiple regional haze rules.

Retiring coal burners in the

United States

As of July, 683 coal burner units have been proposed to be retired or are already shut down. There are 591 functioning units with no retirement plans. Many of these retired and non-retired burners are at the same electrical generation site.

No retirement plans

591 coal burner units

Proposed

to be retired

Retired

245

438

The megawattage of the retired or retiring units makes up less than a third of the country’s total electricity output.

Total yearly production capacity

236,533 MW

54,623

51,856

Note: “Proposed” is installed capacity of existing electric sector coal-fired plants that have publicly announced to cease burning coal as a primary fuel type since 2010. Also includes units where credible intent to retire or fuel switch on the part of the owner, operator, or utility has been issued through official documentation (press statement, IRP, etc.). “Retired” is installed capacity of existing coal-fired units that have ceased burning coal as the primary fuel type.

Change in megawatthours

generation by energy source

(2006-2015)

Between 2006 and 2015, the amount of energy generated by coal has dropped more than any other energy source. Despite this decrease, coal still accounted for

33 percent of all energy generated in 2015, the same amount as natural gas.

–634.4 MWhs

Coal

In millions

-35.7

Petroleum

Nuclear

+9.9

Renewable sources*

+165.2

Natural gas

+518.6

*The renewable sources category does not

includehydroelectric and solar sources. It does

includewood, black liquor, other wood waste,

biogenic municipal solid waste, landfill gas,

sludge waste, agriculture byproducts, other

biomass, geothermal, solar thermal,

photovoltaic energy and wind.

Sources: Sierra Club; Energy Information

Administration; Climate Action Tracker

STEPHANIE STAMM/THE WASHINGTON POST

Retiring coal burners in the United States

As of July, 683 coal burner units have been proposed to be retired or are already shut down. There are 591 functioning units with no retirement plans. Many of these retired and non-retired burners are at the same electrical generation site.

Proposed

to be retired

No retirement plans

Retired

591 coal burner units

245

438

The megawattage of the retired or retiring units makes up less than a third of the country’s total electricity output.

Total yearly production capacity

236,533 MW

54,623

51,856

Note: “Proposed” is installed capacity of existing electric sector coal-fired plants that have publicly announced to cease burning coal as a primary fuel type since 2010. Also includes units where credible intent to retire or fuel switch on the part of the owner, operator, or utility has been issued through official documentation (press statement, IRP, etc.). “Retired” is installed capacity of existing coal-fired units that have ceased burning coal as the primary fuel type.

Change in megawatthours generation by energy source (2006-15)

Between 2006 and 2015, the amount of energy generated by coal has dropped more than any other energy source. Despite this decrease, coal still accounted for 33 percent of all energy generated in 2015, the same amount as natural gas.

Coal

-634.4 MWhs

In millions

Petroleum

-35.7

+9.9

Nuclear

+165.2

Renewable sources*

Natural gas

+518.6

*The renewable sources category does not include hydroelectric and solar sources. It does include

wood, black liquor, other wood waste, biogenic municipal solid waste, landfill gas, sludge waste,

agriculture byproducts, other biomass, geothermal, solar thermal, photovoltaic energy and wind.

Sources: Sierra Club; Energy Information Administration; Climate Action Tracker

STEPHANIE STAMM/THE WASHINGTON POST

Retiring coal burners in the United States

As of July, 683 coal burner units have been proposed to be retired or are already shut down. There are 591 functioning units with no retirement plans. Many of these retired and non-retired burners are at the same electrical generation site.

Proposed to be retired

Retired

No retirement plans

438

591 coal burner units

245

The megawattage of the retired or retiring units makes up less than a third of the country’s total electricity output.

Total yearly production capacity

236,533 MW

54,623 MW

51,856 MW

Note: “Proposed” is installed capacity of existing electric sector coal-fired plants that have publicly announced to cease burning coal as a primary fuel type since 2010. Also includes units where credible intent to retire or fuel switch on the part of the owner, operator or utility has been issued through official documentation (news statement, Integrated Resource Plan, etc.). “Retired” is installed capacity of existing coal-fired units that have ceased burning coal as the primary fuel type.

Change in megawatthours generation by energy source (2006-2015)

Between 2006 and 2015, the amount of energy generated by coal has dropped more than any other energy source. Despite this decrease, coal still accounted for 33 percent of all energy generated in 2015, the same amount as natural gas.

-634.4 MWhs

Coal

In millions

-35.7

Petroleum

Nuclear

+9.9

+165.2

Renewable sources*

Natural gas

+518.6

*The renewable sources category does not include hydroelectric and solar sources. It does include wood, black liquor, other wood waste, biogenic municipal solid waste,

landfill gas, sludge waste, agriculture byproducts, other biomass, geothermal, solar thermal, photovoltaic energy and wind.

Sources: Sierra Club; Energy Information Administration; Climate Action Tracker

STEPHANIE STAMM/THE WASHINGTON POST

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At the very time that these federal rules were making coal-generated electricity more expensive, an explosion in hydraulic fracturing, an efficient technique for extracting natural gas, was making U.S. gas cheaper. And Obama’s controversial stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, kick-started clean energy and energy-efficiency projects across the country.

But the president and his aides played down the climate agenda, fearing that it would imperil his reelection. They adopted an “all of the above” approach to U.S. energy production.

They welcomed the expansion of natural gas drilling — much of which was happening on private land, either on the Great Plains or in states such as Pennsylvania — and appeared to be open to approving a massive pipeline to transport heavy crude oil from Canada’s oil sands region to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas.

TILDEN, TX-MAR 01: Flames light up the landscape at a fracking operation near Tilden, Texas. As (per barrel) oil prices dropped these past months, many Texas drilling companies (and the local towns where they operated) suffered dramatic financial losses. Among those hit hard was the Houston based Swift Energy Company which has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. Terry E. Swift is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Swift Energy Company. He is now struggling to keep the company going that was founded by his father in 1979. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
Flames light up the landscape at a fracking operation near Tilden, Tex. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Many environmentalists were frustrated. “The administration didn’t spend too much political capital on cutting carbon,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune.

Activists chained themselves to the White House fence to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, arguing that it was one of the few ways Obama could act unilaterally to combat the use of fossil fuels.

And act he did, once he was reelected. From the moment Obama won a second term, climate change and the environment became one of his top priorities. Surprising even some of his top aides, he declared in his second inaugural address: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” Within six months he had unveiled a climate action plan, and he pressed ahead on a range of issues, including mandatory carbon limits on existing power plants and negotiation of a major new global climate agreement in Paris. He also rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, arguing that allowing it to proceed would send the wrong message at a time when the United States was committed to tackling global warming, and he went to Alaska to draw America’s attention to what a melting glacier looks like.

The president came to realize in his second term, Brune said, “that to win on climate you can’t avoid a fight. He recognizes there are adversaries on the climate fight, and he has not missed an opportunity to take them on.”

Obama’s legacy on climate will depend on who follows him in the Oval Office. But already, these policies have helped transform the American landscape.

The silhouette of wind turbines, operated by Pattern Energy Group Inc., stand while the sun sets at the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, operated by Pattern Energy Group Inc., in Fowler, Indiana, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. Pattern Energy Group Inc.'s quarterly earnings was released on Aug. 5. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Wind turbines stand in silhouette as the sun sets at the Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge in Fowler, Ind., on Aug. 3, 2016. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News)

As of June 2016, 1 million U.S. homes boasted solar installations — a benchmark that took 40 years to reach. There are now more employees working in solar energy than in the coal industry, and two of the fastest-growing careers include wind-turbine technician and solar-panel installer.

At the same time, the coal industry continues to shrink. Coal accounted for nearly half of U.S. electricity generation when Obama took office; now, it amounts to a third.

“Just since 2011, when the president’s power plant regulations began to bite, about 68,000 coal miners have lost their jobs — high-wage jobs that this administration has failed to replace, let alone create,” said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association.

His allies and critics rarely agree but on this they do: By the time he leaves office, Obama will have pushed through one of the most ambitious environmental agendas in U.S. history.

This story is part of a virtual museum of President Barack Obama’s presidency. In five parts — The First Black President, Commander in Chief, Obama’s America, Obama and the World and The First Family — we explore the triumphs and travails of his historic tenure.

Room One
The First Black President
Illustrations by James Steinberg
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A hopeful moment on race
Read story
Obama’s effort to heal racial divisions and uplift black America
Barack Obama's presidency signaled a "post-racial" America at first, but the racial conflict followed disproved that.

Barack Obama’s watershed 2008 election and the presidency that followed profoundly altered the aesthetics of American democracy, transforming the Founding Fathers’ narrow vision of politics and citizenship into something more expansive and more elegant. The American presidency suddenly looked very different, and for a moment America felt different, too.

The Obama victory helped fulfill one of the great ambitions of the civil rights struggle by showcasing the ability of extraordinarily talented black Americans to lead and excel in all facets of American life. First lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Sasha and Malia, extended this reimagining of black American life by providing a conspicuous vision of a healthy, loving and thriving African American family that defies still-prevalent racist stereotypes.

But some interpreted Obama’s triumph as much more.

SLUG: NA/OBAMA DATE: 10/31/08 CREDIT: Linda Davidson / staff/ The Washington Post LOCATION: Wicker Memorial Park, Gary, IN SUMMARY: Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama holds a rally in Gary, IN. PICTURED: Members of the crowd respond to Obama as he makes his way down the ropeline. Some seek to shake his hand, others want to touch his head, some just want a hug. StaffPhoto imported to Merlin on Fri Oct 31 23:06:03 2008
Members of the crowd in Gary, Ind., seek to shake the candidate's hand or touch his head as he thanks them for their support in October 2008. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

The victory was heralded as the arrival of a “post-racial” America, one in which the nation’s original sin of racial slavery and post-Reconstruction Jim Crow discrimination had finally been absolved by the election of a black man as commander in chief. For a while, the nation basked in a racially harmonious afterglow.

A black president would influence generations of young children to embrace a new vision of American citizenship. The “Obama Coalition” of African American, white, Latino, Asian American and Native American voters had helped usher in an era in which institutional racism and pervasive inequality would fade as Americans embraced the nation’s multicultural promise.

Seven years later, such profound optimism seems misplaced. Almost immediately, the Obama presidency unleashed racial furies that have only multiplied over time. From the tea party’s racially tinged attacks on the president’s policy agenda to the “birther” movement’s more overtly racist fantasies asserting that Obama was not even an American citizen, the national racial climate grew more, and not less, fraught.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: NOVEMBER 6 -- President Barack Obama is re-elected to office in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
President Obama is feted in Chicago on Nov. 6, 2012, the night he is elected to his second term as commander in chief. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

If racial conflict, in the form of birthers, tea partyers and gnawing resentments, implicitly shadowed Obama’s first term, it erupted into open warfare during much of his second. The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in the Shelby v. Holder case gutted Voting Rights Act enforcement, throwing into question the signal achievement of the civil rights movement’s heroic period.

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Beginning with the 2012 shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, the nation reopened an intense debate on the continued horror of institutional racism evidenced by a string of high-profile deaths of black men, women, boys and girls at the hands of law enforcement.

The organized demonstrations, protests and outrage of a new generation of civil rights activists turned the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter into the clarion call for a new social justice movement. Black Lives Matter activists have forcefully argued that the U.S. criminal justice system represents a gateway to racial oppression, one marked by a drug war that disproportionately targets, punishes and warehouses young men and women of color. In her bestselling book “The New Jim Crow,” legal scholar Michelle Alexander argued that mass incarceration represents a racial caste system that echoes the pervasive, structural inequality of a system of racial apartheid that persists.

DENVER, COLORADO: OCTOBER 24 -- A fan hugs President Barack Obama as he works the rope line following a rally at City Park in Denver, Colorado, on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
A supporter hugs President Obama as he works the rope line following a rally in Denver in October 2012. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Obama’s first-term caution on race matters was punctured by his controversial remarks that police “acted stupidly” in the mistaken identity arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University’s prominent African American studies professor, in 2009. Four years later he entered the breach once more by proclaiming that if he had a son, “he’d look like Trayvon.”

In the aftermath of racial unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, and a racially motivated massacre in Charleston, S.C., Obama went further. In 2015, Obama found his voice in a series of stirring speeches in Selma, Ala., and Charleston, where he acknowledged America’s long and continuous history of racial injustice.

Policy-wise Obama has launched a private philanthropic effort, My Brother’s Keeper, designed to assist low-income black boys, and became the first president to visit a federal prison in a call for prison reform that foreshadowed the administration’s efforts to release federal inmates facing long sentences on relatively minor drug charges.

Despite these efforts, many of Obama’s African American supporters have expressed profound disappointment over the president’s refusal to forcefully pursue racial and economic justice policies for his most loyal political constituency.

From this perspective, the Obama presidency has played out as a cruel joke on members of the African American community who, despite providing indispensable votes, critical support and unstinting loyalty, find themselves largely shut out from the nation’s post-Great Recession economic recovery. Blacks have, critics suggested, traded away substantive policy demands for the largely symbolic psychological and emotional victory of having a black president and first family in the White House for eight years.

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Others find that assessment harsh, noting that Obama’s most impressive policy achievements have received scant promotion from the White House or acknowledgment in the mainstream media.

History will decide the full measure of the importance, success, failures and shortcomings of the Obama presidency. With regard to race, Obama’s historical significance is ensured; only his impact and legacy are up for debate. In retrospect, the burden of transforming America’s tortured racial history in two four-year presidential terms proved impossible, even as its promise helped to catapult Obama to the nation’s highest office.

DES MOINES, IOWA: NOVEMBER 5 -- President Barack Obama wraps up his campaign with a final stop in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, November 5, 2012. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
President Obama wraps up his campaign with a final stop in downtown Des Moines on Nov. 5, 2012. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Obama’s presidency elides important aspects of the civil rights struggle, especially the teachings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. King, for a time, served as the racial justice consciousness for two presidents — John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Many who hoped Obama might be able to serve both roles — as president and racial justice advocate — have been disappointed. Yet there is a revelatory clarity in that disappointment, proving that Obama is not King or Frederick Douglass, but Abraham Lincoln, Kennedy and Johnson. Even a black president, perhaps especially a black president, could not untangle racism’s Gordian knot on the body politic. Yet in acknowledging the limitations of Obama’s presidency on healing racial divisions and the shortcomings of his policies in uplifting black America, we may reach a newfound political maturity that recognizes that no one person — no matter how powerful — can single-handedly rectify structures of inequality constructed over centuries.

Peniel Joseph is professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

Next story from Obama’s Legacy
The speech on race that saved Obama’s candidacy
Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign was almost derailed after racially charged sermons by his former minister, Jeremiah Wright of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ were released. After initiall downplaying the controversy, Obama faced it head on during his "A more perfect union" speech given in Philadelphia at the National Consitution Center.
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A soliloquy in Philadelphia
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The beer summit
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Being number one means nothing until there’s a number two.

L. Douglas Wilder
First black governor since Reconstruction
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The other trailblazers
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On a bridge in Selma
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If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.

Barack Obama
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In his own words
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The backlash
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A new aesthetic
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Some young Americans have known only one president in their lifetime.

So we asked their thoughts on President Obama as he leaves office.
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Kids on Obama
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Crime, justice and race
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Obama in Africa
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A record 69
of African Americans turned out to vote in 2008, surpassing white turnout rates for the first time.
Source: U.S. Elections Project analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data
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The Obama electorate
See graphics
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Your Obama presidency
Share your story
Room Two
Commander in Chief
Illustrations by Brian Stauffer
Perspectives on the president of a nation at war:

Has he failed to understand the nature of war or shown the virtues of patience to win the long game?

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On war and leadership
Read essays
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The parade of generals
Watch video

We won some good fights and we lost the war.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff
Former Marine infantryman
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A tour of duty
See photos
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One enemy after another
See graphics

No matter how justified, war promises human tragedy.

Barack Obama
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Words of war and peace
Watch video
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The last convoy
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The rise of ISIS
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Weighing intervention
Watch video
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An army of drones
Read story
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Struggle after service
Watch video
After the killing of Osama bin Laden,
69
of Americans approved of Obama’s efforts to stem terrorism.
Source: Washington Post-ABC News polls, 2011
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Fear at home
See graphics
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Your fight, your stories
Share your story
Room Three
Obama’s America
Illustrations by Thandiwe Tshabalala
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Eight turbulent years
Watch video

Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.

President Obama
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Economic brinksmanship
Read essay
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The price of Obamacare
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A new state of unions
See photo essay
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Shots fired
Watch video
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A cultural shift
Watch video
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‘Healing the planet’
Read essay

What is it like to be the last black president?

Zach Galifianakis
Host of “Between Two Ferns”
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Making presidential comedy
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A mark in the wilderness
See graphics
While the nation’s economy recovered steadily, over
6 in 10
Americans said the country was on the wrong track.
Source: Washington Post-ABC News polls
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American reactions
See graphic
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Your America
Share your story
Room Four
Obama and the World
Illustrations by Jasu Hu
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Determined restraint
Read story
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For Muslims, unanswered prayers
Read story
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Open hand, clenched fist
Read Q&A
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Talking to Tehran
Watch video
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Closer now – and cigars!
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In 2015 and 2016, an average
60
of people throughout the world had a favorable opinion of the United States.
Pew Research Center
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Standing in the world
See graphic
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Friends, adversaries
See photos
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A pivot to Asia
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52 trips.
58 countries.
217 days
outside
the country.
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Air Force One miles
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Your worldview
Share your story
Room Five
The First Family
Illustrations by Erin K. Robinson
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The new modern family
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The Obama family has really uplifted the image of the black family from the moment we saw them.

Stacie Lee Banks, 53
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White House, black women
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The first lady’s last stand
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He does not walk. He strolls with a black man’s head-up posture.

Robin Givhan
Fashion critic, The Washington Post
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It’s an Obama thing
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In the cultural mix
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White House parents
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In fall 2009,
66
of Americans said they liked the way the Obama family leads their life in the White House.
Pew Research Center/National Public Radio poll
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The most popular of them all?
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The O’Bidens
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The first dogs
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Obama’s Legacy
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Credits
Credits
Editing
  • Terence Samuel, project editor
  • Allison Michaels, project manager, digital editor
  • Shannon Croom, multiplatform editor
  • Courtney Rukan, multiplatform editor
  • Emily Chow, graphics assignment editor
Design and development
  • Seth Blanchard
  • Emily Yount
Illustrations
  • Suzette Moyer, art director
  • James Steinberg, illustrator (The First Black President)
  • Brian Stauffer, illustrator (Commander in Chief)
  • Thandiwe Tshabalala, illustrator (Obama’s America)
  • Jasu Hu, illustrator (Obama and the World)
  • Erin K. Robinson, illustrator (The First Family)
Video
  • Dalton Bennett
  • Gillian Brockell
  • Bastein Inzaurralde
  • Claritza Jimenez
  • Ashleigh Joplin
  • Whitney Leaming
  • Osman Malik
  • Zoeann Murphy
  • Erin O’Conner
  • Sarah Parnass
  • Mahnaz Rezaie
  • Jorge Ribas
  • Whitney Shefte
  • Peter Stevenson
Photo editing
  • Stephen Cook
  • Robert Miller
  • Kenneth Dickerman
  • Wendy Galietta
  • Bronwen Latimer
  • Dee Swann
Writing and reporting
  • Derek Chollet
  • Elliot Cohen
  • Christian Davenport
  • Ivo H. Daalder
  • Mike DeBonis
  • Karen DeYoung
  • Juliet Eilperin
  • Michael Fletcher
  • Thomas Gibbons-Neff
  • Robin Givhan
  • Will Haygood
  • Sari Horwitz
  • Greg Jaffe
  • Peniel Joseph
  • Paul Kane
  • Wesley Lowery
  • David Maraniss
  • Greg Miller
  • Steven Mufson
  • David Nakamura
  • John Pomfret
  • Missy Ryan
  • Peter Slevin
  • Kevin Sullivan
  • Krissah Thompson
  • Neely Tucker
  • William Wan
  • Vanessa Williams
Research and graphics
  • Darla Cameron
  • Scott Clement
  • Emily Guskin
  • Tim Meko
  • Stephanie Stamm
  • Aaron Steckelberg
  • Elise Viebeck