Barack Obama’s long-gestating memoir, A Promised Land, is finally coming out on November 17th. I was a little bit mad that he didn’t organize his promotional book tour for just before the election, but now I can see that Obama wanted to devote himself full time to the Biden campaign in the final weeks of the election. Anyway, with the release date coming up, the embargo on reviews has finally been lifted, and many outlets have summaries and excerpts. This is probably just the first of many posts about Barry’s book! Some highlights, from this CNN piece:
He sees Trump & Trumpism as a racist reaction to his existence: “It was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted. Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United States and was thus an illegitimate president. For millions of Americans spooked by a Black man in the White House, he promised an elixir for their racial anxiety.”
The elevation of Sarah Palin to the Republican presidential ticket in 2008. “Through Palin, it seemed as if the dark spirits that had long been lurking on the edges of the modern Republican Party — xenophobia, anti intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, an antipathy toward Black and brown folks — were finding their way to center stage.”
He doubts whether John McCain would have chosen Palin if he had a do-over: Obama writes that he “wonder(s) sometimes” about whether 2008 Republican nominee John McCain would still have picked Palin if he had known “her spectacular rise and her validation as a candidate would provide a template for future politicians, shifting his party’s center and the country’s politics overall in a direction he abhorred…I’d like to think that given the chance to do it over again, he might have chosen differently. I believe he really did put his country first.”
The Birther Movement: Trump’s antics were seen initially in the White House as a joke. But Obama writes he came to regard Trump’s media ubiquity and characteristic shamelessness as merely an exaggerated version of the Republican Party’s attempts to appeal to White Americans’ anxieties about the first Black president — a sentiment he said “had migrated from the fringe of GOP politics to the center — an emotional, almost visceral, reaction to my presidency, distinct from any differences in policy or ideology.”
He doesn’t see a huge difference between Trump & the current GOP: Trump, who Obama said phoned the White House in 2010 to offer his assistance helping plug an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (he was turned down), had determined that saying or behaving in ways previously seen as distasteful or unacceptable now earned him constant media attention. “In that sense, there wasn’t much difference between Trump and Boehner or McConnell. They, too, understood that it didn’t matter whether what they said was true. In fact, the only difference between Trump’s style of politics and theirs was Trump’s lack of inhibition.”
I wondered how Obama would discuss… all of this, really. I don’t think he’s pulling his punches, I just think this is who he is – the intellectual, the law professor who can often step outside of himself and coldly assess what’s happening around him. There is also a deep well of anger and anguish inside of Obama at Trump and the Republicans for what they’ve done to him, to his family and to the country. But he also absorbs it and understands that white America is what allows for this sh-t. Trump, McConnell and the entire GOP wouldn’t exist in this cruel, racist, vindictive form if white America would stop supporting them and rewarding them for it. And he’s totally right about Sarah Palin too. She was the proto-Trump. She was Pandora.
Photos courtesy of Getty, Avalon Red, Backgrid.