In an interview with the Atlantic on the occasion of the publication of his memoir A Promised Land, Barack Obama ponders Joe Biden’s chances of working with Republicans in Congress, almost admits to being a never-Trump conservative himself – and compares America under Trump to Central Asia under Genghis Khan.
“If we had a right-wing populist in this country,” says Obama, “I would have expected someone who is a bit more appealing.”
Trump refuses to admit defeat to Biden, despite a 5 million deficit in the referendum and a loss to the electoral college of 306-232 with which he defeated Hillary Clinton.
“Despite all the differences between me and George W. Bush,” said Obama, “he and his administration couldn’t have been more kind and deliberate to ensure a smooth handover.” One of the really worrying things about the current situation is the time wasted in Donald Trump’s petulance and the unwillingness of other Republicans to point it out to him. “
On Sunday evening Trump tweeted: “I won the election!” Twitter put a label on the news: “Official sources called this election different.”
The president’s current petulance could be heightened by the way Obama compares him to “the classic male hero in American culture” – and clearly perceives him to be deficient. Trump is, after all, a president who plays the song Macho Man at his rallies.
“I think of the classic male hero in American culture when you and I were growing up,” Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg, editor of the Atlantic. “The John Waynes, the Gary Coopers, the Jimmy Stewarts, the Clint Eastwoods. There was a code … the code of masculinity I grew up with goes back to the 30s and 40s and before.
I thought the model wasn’t going to be the plaintive, lying character who doesn’t take responsibility for anything
“There is a notion that a man stays true to his word, that he takes responsibility, that he doesn’t complain that he is not a bully – in fact, he defends the vulnerable against bullies. And even if you’re someone who resents vigilance and political correctness and wants men to be men again, and tired of everyone complaining about patriarchy, I thought the model wouldn’t be Richie Rich – that Complain, lie, don’t I take no responsibility for anything, ”added Obama.
Most give Trump no chance of success in his lawsuits in battlefield states based on unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud. But depending on the results of two runoff elections in Georgia, the Senate should remain in Republican hands. Biden may have to try to work with Mitch McConnell, the tenacious Senate Republican majority leader who supported Trump in office.
Obama said, “Mitch McConnell is not friends with anyone. I now enjoy reading about how Joe Biden and Mitch have been friends for a long time. You have known each other for a long time. I have quotes from Biden about his interactions with Mitch McConnell.
“The problem with the Republicans isn’t that I haven’t courted them enough. We’d invite you to anything: movie nights, state dinners, Camp David, as you call it. The problem wasn’t a lack of schmoozing. The problem was that they found it politically beneficial to demonize me and the Democratic Party. “
Obama urges Trump to admit defeat – video
How friendly Democrats should be to the Never Trumpers, Conservatives from the Lincoln Project to the Bulwark and beyond, is another key issue. Von Goldberg says that “a colleague of mine says that in some ways you are a never-Trump conservative,” Obama said that the characterization was “not entirely correct,” but again based on male archetypes of the mid-20th century that Republicans revere.
“I understand,” he said. “There is this sense of honesty, honesty, responsibility and home-made values that I admire. This is the Kansas side of me. My grandmother is a proxy for it.
“The people we celebrate in Normandy, including my uncle Charlie, who was a member of one of the units that liberated parts of Buchenwald, were men who, regardless of their limits, regardless of their limitations on their emotions, because of what they said they couldn’t and couldn’t feel and be like men, but their relationship with women was distorted by all of this – they sacrificed for others.
“And they never boasted, and certainly they would never cheat or use them as a calling card.”
“… You mentioned earlier that in a way I am a never-Trump conservative. That’s not entirely true, but what is true is that I temperamentally sympathize with a certain strain of conservatism in the sense that I’m not just a materialist. I am not an economic determinist. I think it’s important, but I think there are things other than things and money and income – the religious criticism of modern society that we have lost that sense of community. “
The depth of Obama’s response reflected the many differences between him and Trump – and the sheer size of his book. A Promised Land is 751 pages, many of which reflect on historical progress. Central is Martin Luther King Jr.’s conviction that “the arc of the moral universe is long but tends towards justice”.
Genghis Khan came for a visit to the pyramids in response to a question. The Mongol warlord would “slowly boil you in oil and peel your skin off,” Obama said. But “compare the level of brutality, venality and corruption and the sheer folly that you see in human history with the state of affairs today. It’s not even near. “
“This shouldn’t be a comment on the Trump presidency – at least not directly,” Goldberg wrote. “In any case, Obama has more respect for Genghis Khan than for Donald Trump.”