Obama's Last Day in Office As President: A Low-Key End To An Eight Year Presidency
With a final few moves and a round of goodbyes, President Barack Obama quietly closed out his presidency on Thursday and prepared for life as a private citizen, as the country prepared itself for President-elect Donald Trump.
Eight years after he started his presidency with a full blown burst of activity and executive orders, Obama bid goodbye in low-key fashion. He didn't appear publicly during the day, and he didn't leave the White House, though he was to accompany Trump for his successor's swearing-in.
In a letter to supporters, Obama said that "when the arc of progress seems slow," Americans should remember that they are empowered as citizens to influence the nation's future for the better. He added: "We shall overcome."
"All that I've learned in my time in office, I've learned from you," Obama said. "You made me a better president, and you made me a better man."
Photos of Obama and his family that for years have lined the walls were taken down, with some to be transferred to Obama's personal office, leaving big white spaces on the walls. Desks and offices were empty, having been left empty by staff who departed in the recent weeks.
"It has truly been a pleasure," one White House press staffer declared over the intercom.
Obama saved a major announcement for his final day; commutations for 330 drug offenders who had appealed to him for clemency. The final round of grants brought to 1,715 the total number of inmates whose sentences Obama has commuted, more than any other president.
The Obamas are later to return to Washington, where they have rented a home and plan to live until youngest daughter Sasha finishes high school.
What really caught our attention was Ellen DeGeneres dedicating her show to Obama on Thursday with a look back at the time she spent with him and first-lady Michelle Obama over the past eight years.
She thanked him to help make her marriage to now wife Portia de Rossi legal. Although he only appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show twice, once when he was just starting his run for president and another time for a sit-down in 2016, there has always been a respectful relationship between the two.