More than 13 million jobs created, health insurance for all and legalisation of same sex marriages - these are among the top accomplishments of the Obama administration - on the domestic front. On the international stage, the US led a group of six superpowers in striking a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, opened relations with Cuba and pushed the climate change agenda on various international platforms.
America's first African-American president is leaving behind a rich legacy that's also supercool!
As his eight years in office come to a close, Barack Obama's approval ratings are witnessing a spike. More than 54 per cent Americans today say they're happy with the Obama administration and approve of the President as Commander in Chief.
But why would these ratings shoot up, when the president has barely a few months left in the Oval Office? Pollsters may offer various reasons, but Obama claims he knows why.
"Somehow in my final year... my approval ratings keep going up. Last time I was this high... no one can figure out what has changed," said Obama at the last White House Correspondents' dinner.
The man who has ruled from the Oval Office for eight years truly represents the audacity of hope. He's taken on the opposition on a wide range of issues - backing ideas he believed in - sometimes at the risk of alienating his own support base.
Obama raised the political stakes when he extended his support to same-sex marriages in 2012 ahead of his re-election. This was an issue over which Americans were evenly divided and coming out in support of such an issue was a bold move.
"Over the years, I've been speaking to my staff members, friends, soldiers - people who have been raising children in monogamous relationships, and yet feel constrained - because they're not able to commit themselves in a marriage. For me personally it is important to affirm that same sex couples should get married," he had said in a TV interview. Later in 2015, Obama embraced the US Supreme Court's landmark decision - calling it a victory for America.
"If we are truly equal then the love we commit to each other should be equal. It is indeed gratifying to see that principal enshrined into law. This ruling is a victory for Jim Obergefell and other plaintiffs, a victory for gay and lesbian couples who have fought for long for basic civil rights and their families, allies, friends and supporters who spent years working and praying for change and it's a victory for America," declared the president from the Rose Garden.
He has also backed contentious social security and healthcare schemes which he believed would benefit the middle- and lower middle classes. Obama kickstarted his tenure by bringing in Obamacare - in early 2010. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that was strongly opposed by the Republicans today provides health insurance and medical cover to millions of Americans at an affordable rate.
When forced into a corner over budget allocations for Obamacare by the Congress - Obama stood his ground- even though the decision meant that the federal government would be shut down for several days. During the shutdown, the president and his deputy went for a walk on the streets, explaining to people the reason behind his decision. And this wasn't the only time the President decided he wanted to get out and talk to people, get some fresh air and a fresh sandwich.
President Obama is famous for his spontaneity and, coupled with a keen sense of humour, he's quite a crowd-puller. His speech at the last correspondents' dinner had the audience in splits. As Obama pointed out - now that he was about to leave office - he can indulge himself a little, even make fun of the pressures of his job.
"Eight years ago, I was a young man, full of idealism and vigour - look at me now, grey, grizzled, counting down the days to my death panel," he was heard saying at the event.
While making public speeches such as this, the First Couple frequently refer to each other - using each other to make jokes about their privileged lifestyle and pressures of staying in the White House.
"The prospect of leaving the White House is a mixed back. You might have heard that someone jumped the White House fence. But you must give the Secret Service credit. They found Michelle and brought her back," he joked at the same dinner.
President Obama never seems to miss an opportunity to crack jokes, even at his own expense. As he gets ready for life outside the Oval Office, the most powerful man in the world seems to have started contemplating what he’ll do with himself when he loses his powers. Here’s a video that was put out by the White House sometime ago.
The president’s recent appearances on "tonight shows" on various networks have left viewers begging for more. My pick of the season is Obama on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS. Frankly, I don’t remember the last time I saw an interview with a politician that was so entertaining… maybe it's Obama… maybe it's Cobert… or maybe it’s just the combination.
The president writing thank-you notes on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on NBC comes in a close second… with Obama showing off his ability to keep a straight face - as the cheeky show host takes potshots at Hillary Clinton and the email scandal.
Over the years, Obama has shown the world why he deserves the title of America’s coolest president and the coolest world leader. He’s as funny as funny can be. He dances like a rockstar and he’s quite a sportsman. He doesn’t just know how to play tough at work when dealing with international situations and domestic crisis… he can play ball too.
He doesn’t mind trying his hand at cooking - as we’ve seen on a few White House videos and he’s great with children. "I do really well with the 0-8 demographic party because my ears are too big and they find it funny," he told Jerry Sienfeld in a TV interview.
President Obama may have won the title of the coolest US president ever but could he have done it without the First Lady by his side? Michele Obama isn’t just another trophy wife to the most powerful man in the world - she has also helped the president shape his public image.
Over the years, Michelle has backed her husband’s controversial policies like Obamacare on several platforms and championed causes close to her heart - like racial equality and women’s rights. The Obamas' joint public appearances are really sought after… with one often left wondering if the First Lady overshadows the president with her sheer personality and sense of humour.
The Obamas perfectly compliment each other - taking each other's trip sometimes and indulging in a little bit of PDA on some occasions. They’re often seen holding hands… with the president sometimes guiding the First Lady and sometimes letting her take the lead.
This video put up on Youtube by their daughter Malia became an instant hit, with Obama sharing details of his first kiss with Michelle.
They’re good together for sure, but she’s not too bad on her own either. Michelle once described her husband as "swagalicious" on Oprah. I think she’s got some swag of her own as well, be it her private gym or the dance floor. She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s fit and good-looking… add a bit of fashion, and you’ve got a sort of youth icon in Michelle Obama.
If you think it’ll be easy for a Hillary or a (Donald) Trump to match up to the Obamas, you’re living in a fool’s paradise. The coolest US president and First Lady have given the world a taste of smart and sexy, and not just any sort of smart - Harvard and Nobel Prize smart. Together, theirs is a legacy that will be hard to match.