As Obama exits scene, Chicago legacy debated

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But community organizer Amisha Patel said Obama too often tried to walk a fine line on such issues.

“I think the president was afraid to be clear on an urban agenda. I don’t think he thought he had room to move on that, and so you get a really hands-off approach, these half-solutions,” Patel said. “There was tremendous pressure on Obama, being the first black president of this country, and I think he was focused on being seen as the president for everybody in the country, and so he moved away from urban issues.”

Patel applauded Obama’s success with Obamacare and noted the great pride many Chicagoans feel in him, but said the high expectations many locals had when Obama took office because of his background and understanding of city problems were met with disappointment.

“When he campaigned in 2008, he campaigned as a community organizer, but he didn’t govern as one,” she said. “I think that’s a missed opportunity.”