As he departs office leaving scores of progressive policies in place, there's ample evidence of change. But for his backers, the "hope" aspect of that original mantra is diminished by the prospects of Donald Trump's presidency.
On Tuesday, Obama aims to revive the spirits of progressives who he'd hoped to rally behind Hillary Clinton. Though his speech won't be policy-oriented or carry any direct contrasts with Trump, his message will offer a "hopeful" vision for the future, according to administration officials.
Obama in his speech wants to cast a "forward-looking" vision for a country, those officials say, insisting his message won't be directed solely at his successor. Planned declarations that the nation benefits from diversity and fairness, however, will surely be regarded as admonitions to the future commander in chief.
"The President is primarily delivering a message to the American people, all Americans, whether they voted for President Obama or not," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Monday. "The President feels an obligation to talk about what he's learned of the last eight years, what he's learned about the country, what he's learned about governing the country, and offer up his advice to the American people about the most effective way to confront the challenges that we see ahead."
Obama's speech is the capstone of a months-long farewell tour, manifested in extended magazine interviews, lengthy television sit-downs, and the White House's own efforts to document the President's waning administration.
Through it all, Obama has sought to highlight the achievements of his presidency using statistics showing the country better off now than eight years ago. He's offered a rational view of Trump's election and rarely lets on to any apprehension about his future as an ex-president.
First lady Michelle Obama has offered a more candid view in a scaled-back version of her own farewell. She sat for an hour-long interview with Oprah Winfrey, frankly admitting that Democrats were now "feeling what not having hope feels like."
And she became emotional during her final set of formal remarks at the White House Friday, her voice quaking and eyes welling with tears as she told a crowd of educators: "I hope I made you proud."