A farewell address is no time to get into policy quarrels, and Obama understood that. His few policy remarks, notably in defense of the Affordable Care Act, were brief, if heartfelt. He let loose with no zingers and named his successor only once.
Who can blame him for keeping his distance from events of the moment? On national unity, not a new theme for him, he struck the right notes: back off from regional enmities, get out of your social media silo, stop demonizing opponents. This drew applause from his followers in the arena at McCormack Place, but outside, in the arena of clickable outrage, he might as well have been shouting into the winds. While the Twitter talk of #CaliforniaSecession had finally subsided, social media had turned to the task of sorting people who liked actress Meryl Streep from those who liked football and mixed martial arts, and woe to you if you preferred to go on liking both at once.