A Man-Child in A Promised Land

Obama, Trump, Jeffrey Goldberg, and Richie Rich

Photograph Source: Peter J. Souza – CC BY 2.0

The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg recently conducted a long and obsequious interview with Barack Obama. The interview was occasioned by the apparent defeat of Obama’s fascist successor Donald Trump and by the recent release of the first volume of Obama’s much-awaited presidential memoir A Promised Land – Obama’s third book about Obama, soon to be followed by a fourth.

It sucked. The interview that is. I can’t and won’t read the memoir. Myself also (like Obama) the author of three books on Obama, I have read enough of the 44th president’s dreary, pedantic, fake-progressive, and fake-poetic prose to last a lifetime. No more, please.

The interview warmed the Obama fan Goldberg’s heart by “remind[ing him] of what a thoughtful president sounds like.”

A Dark Irony

Reading between the lines of the Goldberg-Obama dialogue last week, I was struck not for the first or the last time by the great irony of Obama’s ex-presidency: his high-popularity has been driven largely by the awfulness of Trump, who Obama helped create and usher into power, Weimar-like. With all due respect for the dismal awfulness of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, sexism, and the James Comey intervention, Obama’s depressingly conservative and neoliberal presidency (more on this below) was no small part of how and why the Democrats were unable to turn out their party’s progressive base in sufficient numbers to block Trump’s terrible ascendency. Obama helped render transparently inauthentic the Democrats’ progressive pretense, feeding a mass alienation and demobilization Trump was able to exploit in disastrous ways.

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Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).

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