Lincoln overcame poverty, tragic deaths of family members and lifelong depression to become presidency. Because he faced an open revolt of the slaveholding states against the Union, Lincoln had arguably the single most difficult experience of any Commander-in-Chief. He saw the country through the bloodiest war in U.S. history. He was a brilliant orator, and forever remembered as the signer of the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended the scourge of slavery in America.
Abraham Lincoln, the greatest President of America.
With Lincoln, we have the benefit of 150 years of hindsight; he certainly would not have been rated a great president during Reconstruction, for example. So it's tougher to assess Obama's legacy without that historical context. But many insist he will be viewed as one of the all-time greats.
At GQ, Jim Nelson argues that Obama "changed and elevated the view of the presidency."
In so many ways, Obama was better than we imagined, better than the body politic deserved, and far, far better than his enemies will ever concede.
With the Affordable Care Act, Obama brought the greatest expansion of our social safety net since LBJ to millions of Americans. He appointed two female Supreme Court justices, including the first-ever Latina to the court. He also appointed more openly gay government officials than any president in history, and he captured and killed Osama bin Laden.
It wasn't just his politics, his smarts, or his job-creating ability that made people adore BO as president: his family, his relationships, his sense of humor, and his appeal to people's better nature left many feeling he's the best president we've ever had.
But Obama was inspired on numerous levels by Lincoln, read his writings frequently, and sought to emulate famously literary and accomplished orator. Obama even announced his bid for the White House in Lincoln's hometown of Springfield, Illinois, with these words:
"Abraham Lincoln...had his doubts. He had his defeats. He had his setbacks. But through his will and his words, he moved a nation and helped free a people. It is because of the millions who rallied to his cause that we are no longer divided, North and South, slave and free."