"He was phenomenal—the most agile interpreter and navigator of the color line I had ever seen. He had an ability to emote a deep and sincere connection to the hearts of black people, while never doubting the hearts of white people. This was the core of his 2004 keynote, and it marked his historic race speech during the 2008 campaign at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center—and blinded him to the appeal of Trump. ('As a general proposition, it's hard to run for president by telling people how terrible things are,' Obama once said to me.)
"But if the president's inability to cement his legacy in the form of Hillary Clinton proved the limits of his optimism, it also revealed the exceptional nature of his presidential victories. For eight years Barack Obama walked on ice and never fell. Nothing in that time suggested that straight talk on the facts of racism in American life would have given him surer footing."
Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic reviews the Obama era.
And Eric Bates at The New Republic leads a roundtable discussion of the soon-to-be-former president.