In Barack Obama’s newly published memoir, he looks back on the past few years of his presidency. He also reveals that his wife initially disapproved of the candidacy.
Michelle Obama was against her husband’s candidacy in the 2008 US presidential election. It was only over time that she “reluctantly” decided not to stand in the way, said Barack Obama on the TV show broadcast on Sunday evening (local time) ” 60 minutes “.
“And the fact that I won didn’t really ease their frustration – because the price families pay for it is real.” That Michelle got involved and forgave him was an act of grace – “and I’m not sure that I deserve it”.
“God, Barack, when will it be enough?”
In the first volume of his two-part memoir, A Promised Land, due out Tuesday, Obama quoted his wife’s reaction to his plans: “I don’t want you to run for president. God, Barack, when will it be enough?” He had only been elected to the US Senate a few years earlier. The Obamas served two terms in the White House after the 2008 election.
After four years of Trump, his predecessor Obama also explains in his book how it came about and what Sarah Palin has to do with it. “A Promised Land” promises an exciting insider’s view of the changes in America since 2008 after the first advance notification.
The Land of Promise is a myth that doesn’t really fit into the American present. With the title, he sets a counterpoint against the reign of Donald Trump. The 768-page book is largely a criticism of developments in US policy since 2008, according to initial advance reports from the American media. It will be published next Tuesday, at the same time as a German translation under the title “A Promised Land”.
“Remedies for Your Racist Fears”
“It was as if my presence in the White House alone had released a deep-seated panic, an idea that the natural order had been disrupted” – this is how Obama sees his election as the first black president of the United States in retrospect. That is why Trump – as the television station CNN summarizes – started with allegations that Obama was not born in the United States and therefore was not a legitimate president. “Millions of Americans who were terrified of a black man in the White House promised a cure for their racial fears.”
Obama writes in the foreword of his book, which the magazine “The Atlantic” has published in advance, that he has firm trust in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. But a single election cannot fundamentally change anything. “Our divisions are deep, our challenges are enormous.”
Obama already recorded his memories of the early years in Honolulu and Chicago in the book “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance” (1995), in 2008 in German under the title “An American Dream. The Story of My Family” published. He reported on the beginnings of his political career in “The Audacity of Hope”, which was also published in German one year after the original edition in 2006: “Daring hope. Thoughts on returning to the American Dream”.
Polarization intensified in 2008 by the vice-president
Now Obama’s readers learn how the president experienced his entry into the White House. With the election year 2008, the polarization of American politics received a decisive boost in retrospect of the democratic politician. From Obama’s point of view, this can be linked to the appointment of Sarah Palin as a candidate for the office of Vice President by the then defeated Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
“With Palin, it seemed like the dark spirits that had long lurked on the fringes of the modern Republican Party – xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, an antipathy towards blacks and browns – were making their way onto the main stage.”
With this personnel decision, McCain “provided for the proposal for future politicians, for a shift in the center of his party and the politics of the country as a whole in a direction which he detested”. McCain died in 2018. But he imagines, Obama writes according to CNN, that McCain would have decided differently in retrospect.
Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton: In his new book, Obama also looks at the years as a director of Donald Trump. (Source: UPI Photo / imago images)
Was the candidacy more about your own ego?
Obama has always been a thoughtful politician, writes Adichie, author of the bestseller “Americanah”. In his new book, however, he also repeatedly questions himself. This extends to the question of whether his decision to run for president was really a decision to put himself in the service of the country – or whether it was no longer about his own ego.
Of course, the ex-president presents his years in office entirely from his personal point of view. Historians will know how to deal with it critically. The reviewer Harry Siegel of the news portal “The Daily Beast” comments critically in the memoirs that what is left out by Obama is particularly meaningful. But after four years of Trump, it is refreshing to learn again how sober politics can be. And Trump does not appear for the first time in the memoirs until page 672.
The book is “almost always with pleasure to read, sentence by sentence”, in great prose, the descriptions with fine and vivid details, the writer Adichie praises. But she wants more emotions from the politician, misses the anger over time and again new obstacles put in his way by the republican opposition.