Obama’s Promised Land: Come for the Droning, Stay for the Erasures

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

“These facts had been there for all to read in the Acknowledgments, but Dixon, whose policy it was to read as little as possible of any given book, never bothered with these.” Kinglsey Amis, Lucky Jim

It wouldn’t be fair to call Obama’s prose leaden, exactly; Promised Land does, however, have a certain flatness of tone (let’s just, following Obama, throw in a parenthetical, and go ahead and call it droning) that, bearable in a soundbyte, a press conference, or even through the courses of a White House Correspondent’s Dinner, becomes unbearable over the 706 + xvi = 722 pages (front and back matter excluded) of Volume One (!). I can imagine no worse torture than being strapped into a chair and forced to listen to Promised Land read in Obama’s voice.

So I have read as little as possible of Obama’s book. Unlike Dixon, I flipped to the Acknowledgements (page 704) and saw this:

One is, therefore, not merely reading one man’s view of the Obama administration, but the collective view of the West Wing Obama Alumni Association. What a glittering roster! Although it’s not always clear to me in what their “expert feedback” might consist; Brennan on torture, sure, but Geithner and Holder on the Crash and the foreclosure crisis? Really?

Still seeking to read as little as possible, I thought to check the index. Under “S,” for example:

Now, it might be objected that Obama would only have a reason to mention Bernie Sanders (as opposed to “Bo (Obama family dog), 373-74, 375, 426)) in Volume 2, assuming that Obama there expounds on Campaign 2016. That is not the case. Sanders improved the Affordable Care Act significantly. The Intercept:

[T]he Democratic presidential candidate from Vermont has won legislative victory after victory on an issue that has been dear to him since his days as Burlington’s mayor.

That issue is the simultaneously benign and revolutionary expansion of federally qualified community health clinics.

Over the years, Sanders has tucked away funding for health centers in appropriation bills signed by George W. Bush, into Barack Obama’s stimulus program, and through the earmarking process. But his biggest achievement came in 2010 through the Affordable Care Act. In a series of high-stakes legislative maneuvers, Sanders struck a deal to include $11 billion for health clinics in the law.

The result has made an indelible mark on American health care, extending the number of people served by clinics from 18 million before the ACA to an expected 28 million next year.

As one would expect, the program was largely met with plaudits from patients and public health experts, but it has also won praise from even the biggest Obamacare critics on Capitol Hill. In letters I obtained through multiple record requests, dozens of Republican lawmakers, including members of the House and Senate leadership, have privately praised the ACA clinic funding, calling health centers a vital provider in both rural and urban communities.

To Sanders, the clinics have served as an alternative to his preferred single-payer system. Community health centers accept anyone regardless of health, insurance status or ability to pay. They are founded and managed by a board composed of patients and local residents, so each center is customized to fit the needs of a community. No two health centers are alike…..

Sanders’s place in health clinic history will be remembered for his forceful role in the winter of the health reform debate. In December 2009, tensions ran high as Congress inched closer to a final health reform deal. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., tapped Sanders to help win support from liberals who thought the bill was too weak as well as from Democrats from rural states who were facing mounting pressure. More funding for community health centers, Sanders argued, was a win-win solution for both camps, since the program would ensure access to health care for even the most remote areas of the country while also helping those without insurance. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., among others, held out to the very last moment.

Two days before the Senate voted to break a Republican filibuster of the bill, Reid called on Sanders to make his case on the Senate floor. Sanders, in typical fashion, said the legislation was far from perfect, but thundered about the common-sense need for health centers, citing the acute demand for more primary care doctors, the cost-savings from patients who would otherwise use the emergency room for the common cold, the patient-centered model of clinics, and so on. Senate Democrats rallied and overcame the Republican filibuster.

And the thanks Sanders gets from Obama? Erasure (in contrast to, say, “Obama’s smoking habit and, 539-40”).

Leafing through the Index, I came upon the entries for HAMP (“Home Affordable Modification Program”, 271, 302). Here is what Obama has to say about HAMP, a housing program implemented during the Crash. Here is page 271:

(There follows another page or so of musing about moral hazard.) And page 302:

And that’s all Obama has to say about HAMP. And no wonder! Long-time NC readers know that Yves had a lot more to say. From 2018, “Pigs Want To Feed at the Trough Again: Bernanke, Geithner and Paulson Use Crisis Anniversary to Ask for More Bailout Powers”:

Geithner instituted supposed mortgage assistance programs like HAMP whose purpose, as Geithner put it to SIGTARP head Neil Barofsky, was to “foam the runway” for banks by spreading out when foreclosures would happen rather than preventing them. Recall that 9 million homes were foreclosed upon. Many had missed only a payment or two due to job loss or hours cutbacks; some were victims of bad servicing. Giving borrowers with viable levels of income mortgage modifications would have been a win for investors too. But the Treasury never cared about borrowers and convinced itself that taking care of banks would help the real economy, in a Wall Street variant of trickle-down theory.

And from 2018, ““Fatally Flawed” Paper on HAMP Mortgage Program Gets Program Design Backwards, Botches Regression Analysis, Yielding Propagandistic Findings“:

As many parties, including your humble blogger, argued at the time, even when borrowers did get modifications, they were typically only payment reductions and not even forgiveness of some of the interest. The term of the mortgage and the principal were often both increased, meaning the borrower was merely allowed to defer some of his outlay. By contrast, we argued that meaningful reductions in principal were economically sound, particularly since, due to the high level of foreclosures, losses were much higher than historical norms. Lenders used to recover ~70% in a foreclosure. In the post crisis era, 30% to 40% was more common, giving vastly more room for principal writedowns that would help investors, borrowers, and communities.

And from 2012, “Barofsky v. Geithner and Administration Mouthpieces (Yglesias Edition)“:

I’m left with the image of a bank as an overloaded B52 with smoke coming out of one engine and its landing gear refusing to lower landing belly flat on a runway “foamed” with homeowners lying down, side by side, and crushed into bloody pulp as the aircraft hits the ground. That is, after all, pretty much what happened.

Indeed. Another erasure, since Obama doesn’t say anything about how HAMP worked out. (I checked the entries under Geithner in the Index to see if Obama included his “foam the runway” remark, but no joy. Perhaps in Volume Two?)

* * *

I shouldn’t wish to give the impression that Obama’s tendency to erase failures that would otherwise be associated with him is a dominant aspect of his character, or that he’s thin-skinned and given to petty slights. He is said to be, after all, a family man. He is said to no longer smoke. He owns a dog. Perhaps when we look more deeply into how Promised Land treats the financial crisis we’ll have a more complete picture of the man.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. judy2shoes

    “He is said to be, after all, a family man.”

    Ah, yes. The family man. Anyone else remember the joke he made about what would happen to young men who might dare to approach his daughters? He said he had two words for them: predator drone. Nice.

    I don’t know how you will do it, Lambert, but getting through Obama’s horrid tome will require more than yellow waders, I think. The stench alone must be overwhelming…

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think it’s more a reference to the swooning in dark corners of the internet such as DailyKos which became platforms for fluff stories as opposed to anything substantive.

      1. judy2shoes

        It probably was, NotTimothyG, but my ODS (Obama derangement syndrome) prevents my seeing the forest for the trees when it comes to Saint Obama.

    2. Elizabeth

      I think this was said at the National Correspondents’ Dinner – the same time he said, “I’m really good at killing people.” He laughed as did the audience. Such fawning over a mass murderer. Sickening.

    3. Basil Pesto

      I’m no fan (see my posts below), but it’s important to be accurate.

      It was at the White House Correspondents’ circle jerk. The Jonas Brothers were hot shit at the time. The setup to the joke was along the lines of: if the Jonas Brothers are getting ideas about courting his daughters, he has two words for them: “predator drones.”

      It was clearly written by some late-night comedy writers. He delivered it pretty well iirc and as jokes go, it’s formally unoriginal, sure, but reasonably funny. Until you remember the actual truth that undergirds the joke and the lack of any meaningful desire to interrogate that truth by those present at aforesaid circle jerk and then it starts to feel a bit like the death of irony, somehow.

      “turns out I’m really good at killing people” wasn’t said as a joke at the WHCD, it was said in a private conversation to aides.

      1. judy2shoes

        “Until you remember the actual truth that undergirds the joke and the lack of any meaningful desire to interrogate that truth by those present at aforesaid circle jerk”

        And that’s just it, isn’t it? I remember the dull thud in my gut when he said it. I also remember my disbelief that people actually thought it funny, not to mention Obama thought it appropriate to tell. And then I remember his pretending to drink the water in Flint. Kind of chilling, actually.

  2. Glen

    Obama seems like a guy that wants to re-write history, and I’m not surprised. All the way back in 2010 after it was obvious how Obama was going to bail out the rich and {family blog} everybody else, I was already commenting here at NC, what in the world does he think his legacy is going to be? It’s going to be horrible.

    I’m sure he will pop out a volume or so every five years (shorter if truth catches on) attempting to re-write history in his favor. So sorry Obama, but the winner gets to write the history, and both Obama and America LOST when he was in charge, and that’s pretty hard to ignore. All the young people are LIVING IT, and they will not FORGIVE or FORGET.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Given his references to the Soviets giving Iran chemical weapons, its obvious he has almost no knowledge of history. He’s probably astonished by people like George W. Bush when they drone on.

      1. albrt

        I’m not saying Obama has knowledge, but I wouldn’t rule out the alternative possibility that Obama is intentionally lying. Over and over, as loud and as often as he can, about everything.

        1. ambrit

          Imagine that! A Presidential Administration who’s entire policy program is based on lying! If so, it does not give us any hope for anything useful to the public emerging from the Biden Administration.
          As for the ‘support’ for Biden, rhetorical and otherwise, seen deployed here and elsewhere, well, I’ll not be too censorious. It is very hard to admit to ones self that you have been fooled. In the case of Biden, since he was ‘O’s Vice President for eight years, fooled three times.
          We too wish for some forceful action in support of a progressive agenda from Biden and Company, but, alas, seeing their track records, we’re preparing for Hard Times.

          1. Oh

            Obama joins a long list of liars from Nixon, Johnson, Clinton, Bush, Bush the lesser and now we’ll have Biden another mentiraso supremo.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps someone will be able to make a modest living with a cottage industry of writing and selling “correct the record” books to counter Obama’s books. Such books could help to make SURE that all the young people who are living it know exactly WHOM to NEVer forGET and NEVer forGIVE.

      We will know such books have been successful when Black young people join the non-Black young people in never forGETTing and never forGIVing Obama for his successful record of vicious OverClass Empowerment.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Popping out a volume every five years? Had the same thought myself and I can just see Lambert now down the track announcing that he is currently reviewing Obama’s last book – “Obama: the Martha’s Vineyard years.”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If Obama ever shows up for public events with a question-answer, perhaps a mischievious troll could show up to ask Obama? ” Why do you live on the White side of Martha’s Vineyard? Don’t you like Black people?”

        Hilarity ensues.

      2. freedomny

        LOL “Obama: the Martha’s Vineyard Years” will be a prestige coffee table photo book by Sasha & Malia.

  3. KLG

    Thank you, Lambert!

    I still haven’t finished, which is increasingly unlikely, Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, by David J. Garrow! But I did just find this when flipping through the pages to determine the length of the main text (1078, ugh!):

    In early April (2008), Barack reached out to Jeremiah Wright and got a blistering reception. “I cussed him out. ‘You pronounced judgment on my sermon and you never heard the sermon. You don’t know what the sermon was about ’cause you didn’t hear it.” (p. 1044)

    Reverend Wright, meet bus. Bus, meet Reverend Wright.

  4. upstater

    Lambert, I forget what the advances Barack and Michelle got for their memoirs. Wasn’t it $65M or something like that?

    Let’s put this malarkey into proper perspective!

    Should we consider half the copies that end up in incenerators as renewable energy?

  5. Don Utter

    The first page of NY Times book review section today is on the book. Inside there are 4 full pages, count them, on the book.

    I don’t know about what is in there because I am revolted about Obama and the Obama worship

    Since I didn’t read the review, only counted the pages, there might be a “real review” hiding there.

    The Obama worship at the time before slow motion Biden takes over looks like a way to fill the news cycle with the hope that the US will return to something.

    Could it be that Biden will be the one to ride neo liberalism to complete the coup that has already happened?

    1. ambrit

      This is more of a classic Voudoun thing. Biden is the “horse” that the malign spirit of neo-liberalism “rides” in the conjure ceremony. As per the classical ‘possession’ being nine tenths of the Law and the Prophets pronunciamento, the “horse,” Biden, is merely the mouthpiece for the ‘spirit’ that rides him. The traditional answer to this conundrum is to utter under your breath, “there is no there there.”
      The Forces of Neo-liberalism had better be careful what they wish for. Once a Great Reset gets going, there is no controlling it.

      1. albrt

        Once a Great Reset gets going, there is no controlling it.

        Yeah, at this point I’m more and more inclined to just nod my head at the Q-Anoners and Great Resetters. They aren’t right about the details, but in the aggregate maybe they’re close enough for hand grenades.

        There sure doesn’t seem to be anything better coming along.

          1. ambrit

            Much clutching of pearls and trips to the Fainting Couch.
            albrt mentions the tossing of grenades. That could be one aspect.
            Don’t lose sight of the fact that Americans seem to prefer violent methods of resolving social disputes.
            I really do hope that I am wrong.

          2. Jeremy Grimm

            The latest from the Archdruid: “The Great Leap Backward” [https://www.ecosophia.net/the-great-leap-backward] contains a link to a short fictional depiction of the Great Reset as envisioned at the World Economic Forum:
            “Here’s how life could change in my city by the year 2030” [https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/11/how-life-could-change-2030]
            The ‘content’ dancing around the Great Reset on the World Economic Forum website is so voluminous and fluffy and cute I can’t imagine what lurks within.

  6. flora

    The opening of this post with a quote from Kinglsey Amis’s book Lucky Jim, perhaps one of the funniest of modern dry humor books, is on point, imo.

    Take the title Promised Land for example. The “promised land” has always been an aspiration, never to be really filled in historical terms. O’s using it as a title strikes me as entirely cynical. A sort of “sure, I failed to achieve the unreachable, but that’s not my fault. It was unreachable! Don’t blame me!”

    How perfect. Thanks for this post that shows both the come on of a modern politician, his self-absolution, and a plea for forgiveness for the betrayal of his voters. imo.

  7. Tom Stone

    “I heard Obama on NPR and he has a good heart, I’m sure of it”.
    This from someone with a Master’s degree who is to my knowledge capable of critical thinking.
    I had to bite my tongue, but I suspect my expression gave me away.
    I very nearly said that it is pretty easy to have a good heart with $150MM in the bank.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “I heard Obama on NPR and he has a good heart, I’m sure of it”.

      Whether Obama’s heart was in the right place was the dominant topic in the liberal blogosphere from November 2016 for about six months, IIRC. Meanwhile, Obama was doing stuff like hiring Tim Geithner…

    2. UserFriendly

      Obama has a good heart? Who did he murder with his bare hands and rip it out of their warm chest to get it?

  8. Synoia

    I heard Obama on NPR and he has a good heart, I’m sure of it

    Physically, yes.

    Behaviorally, too Mendacious to be anything but bad.

    I had such a discussion with one of my Brothers in Law. He challenged me to produce any mendacious acts by Obama.

    My Response: Medicare for All.

    Then we changed the subject.

  9. Thistlebreath

    Here’s what comes to mind about that Punahou P*ke: yesterday I saw a photo of where the Saudi Air Force bombed a horse stable in the capitol city of Yemen. In the aftermath, a mare plaintively sniffed at the body of its dead foal to see if she could rouse it to its feet. She could not.

    Barracks O’Bomber is one nickname. He set up, funded and in all ways enabled that bombing run that left that poor mare wondering why her baby would not get to its feet.

    That’s what comes to mind. And will never leave it.

  10. VietnamVet

    Let’s be honest, if Donald Trump had closed all of the US borders over the Globalists’ wailing and had understood testing, contact tracing and isolation of the infected, he would have been swept into a second term like the Prime Minister of New Zealand. But he didn’t and can’t.

    The corporate media and deep state after the failures of the Steele Dodgy Dossier, Russiagate and Impeachment latched on the Pandemic, to remove him. It finally worked; Donald Trump is gone. Despite his hope that AZ, MI, WI and PA legislatures switching the Electoral Votes to him, he has no Praetorian Guards to keep him in the White House. The real problem is that the second worst President candidate in history was elected in 2020 who also tragically will not and cannot fix the system.

    The USA is fine tuned to extract wealth from the environment and labor to transfer to the rich. Anything in the public good is ignored.

    The article on the PCR test is clear and informative. Except it does not explain why the test is terrible for controlling the virus and is unsuitable as a public health tool; it is way too expensive, subject to shortages, and days too slow. It is only good for extracting money for diagnostic labs and clinicians to tell the customer what diseases they have. A cheap daily antigen test that measures high virus load levels at the start of the infection would work. If taken by every American to test negative before going out in public and if there was free treatment and supported isolation by those who tested positive; the virus would be controlled without waiting for a for-profit vaccine.

    There is a conscious decision to ignore what China, Cuba, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand are doing to defeat the virus and keep their economies working. If a rigorous national public health program that copied the success of these nations was implemented on January 21, 2021 by Spring, the pandemic would be ended in the USA.

    The Horror is that it won’t be.

    1. Palaverve

      I agree with you. Though, those countries you mention may react with less discipline to the second wave. Our hyper-individualistic shenanigans might have inspired lockdown revolts in other countries.

      I am still in disbelief that no part of our healthcare system was nationalized in response to this contagion. Medicare for All had no chance in hell, now and especially then.

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      Yes, and the fact that Trump didn’t go full-on Strongman – in fact, he devolved his power and authority to the states and governors – is probably the strongest refutation of #McResistance liberals insistance that he was Hitler/Mussolini/Pooty Poo’s phook-boi…not that they’re willing or even capable of understanding that.

  11. SusanS

    Very good article! I laughed after reading the first paragraph. Also I had no knowledge of the funding for clinics in the Affordable Care Act. My thanks to Bernie Sanders.

  12. Edward

    It sounds like about what one can expect. I doubt Obama mentions the list of 17 people a contributor gave him to appoint to positions in the White House.

    I think Denis Kucinich also tried to fight for a public option in the ACA, not agreeing to vote for it until the last minute.

    1. Oh

      Dennis was arm twisted by Obomber on Air Force One to vote for it; later the DNC worked to get him out as a Congressman. He believed the scorpion and then he got bit regardless.

      1. Edward

        Kucinich wasn’t the only lefty congressperson driven out of congress by the party apparatus. There were others like Cynthia McKinney.

        Kucinich said the pressure to vote for the ACA came from the fact that his vote could decide whether it passed; if it failed to pass, the center-right Dems would politically crucify Kucinich and his left-wing politics, as was done with Nader after 2000. Nevertheless, Kucinich tried to hold out for a public option, but Obama, while courting Republicans with his Republican health care plan, flatly refused.

  13. Wukchumni

    I’m most interested in the chapters on him caving on everything as if he was a complete utter neophyte to negotiation, or as I began to resentfully term him: ‘the Great Spelunker’.

  14. Pat

    I want a simple review in every media outlet in the world.

    Obama told us he had given up smoking when he was in the White House. He tells us a lot of things about his time in the White House in Promised Land Volume One including sneaking smokes. He now tells us he has given up smoking…again. I am sure we will find out in Promised Land Volume whatever that smoking got him through the Trump administration…and he has given it up again. What we won’t learn is anything of value as we are being sold Obama’s preferred narrative. Which like his not smoking is more about appearance than fact.
    If you must read it, please borrow it from the library. That may save us from further self serving volumes.

  15. William Hunter Duncan

    Promised Land? MLK would not have made us read 700 pages of his memoir before we get there (assuming we can’t get there either until Obama finishes his second volume.) I assume Obama will need less pages in V-II to explain why he is walking in MLK’s footsteps?

    For four years I have been hearing from the acolytes of Obama about the cult of Trump. Only a cultist could think Promised Land is an explication of actual history, and not rather Obama massaging it. To think Obama is a relatively young man and we might have to suffer his cultists for another 30 years? I don’t know a Republic can survive so long lionizing such.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Perhaps when the next, more intelligent, disciplined and ideological Trump appears, and actually starts doing the things #McResistance liberals hysterically accused Trump 1.0 of doing/being, they’ll learn.

      Then again… nah.

  16. Edward

    Before he ran for president, Obama was being promoted by the press and establishment people; the press fawned over him and Joe Lieberman was his “mentor” in the Senate. I think powerful people and groups behind the scenes, whose identity we don’t know (perhaps the neocons and Wall Street?), saw him as a tool for promoting their agendas. He did not have experience with national politics or foreign affairs and was easy to manipulate. Meanwhile, Obama’s charisma and eloquence lulled a restless public from demanding real change. His 2008 campaign won an advertising award and was devoid of substance. I think the real question with Obama is who were the people and groups behind the scenes pulling his strings.

  17. Susan the other

    Thanks Lambert. Great review. I hesitate to comment because my hatred runs deeper every time I hear Obama pontificate. He’s such a proud pathetic. The tidbit about erasing Sanders from Obama’s glossy history is proof. Think how painful it would be for Obama to admit to help from Sanders. Sanders, one of the few politicians in modern history with a decent, brave character. Just mentioning Sanders shines a dark light on Obama that his ego cannot survive.

  18. Barry

    An amazing amount of digital ink spilled on criticizing Obama. Obama is no longer president. I suspect a large number of Americans could not wrap their head about having a person of color as their President.

    I have not read the book, but like most presidential biographies it will be a puff piece justifying how wonderful their presidencies were for the world and the American people.

    In the here and now the “fake” pandemic is still raging killing real people in the real world. A President who does not want to accept the election results. If magically, the vote was overturned it would be the end of American democracy as we know it as there will never be another election result that American will accept.

    We are also on the verge of massive homelessness and poverty as federal programs expire and evictions and food insecurity skyrocket.

    A reminder the stock market is not the economy and if you saw the pre – Thanksgiving miles long food lines, we should be concentrating on more important issues than Obama’s book. By the way, Trump is rumored to be receiving a $100m advance for his book. I hope that you will all return and bring your critical skills to how Trumped set records for golfing, Hatch Act violations and screwed up the economy and the pandemic response.

    1. Jerermy Grimm

      Is there any truth to the rumor that Trump plans to include a volume of his collected Tweets as part of his memoirs?

    2. Winterland

      If we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. Obama’s failures brought us all you mentioned and is therefore a critical part of history that should be rehashed as often as necessary until the people who see Obama favorably finally get it.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      In the here and now a new President and Executive Administration will take control of the government — although the big and pressing question for the future is how ‘new’ the operations of this Executive Administration will be and in what ways. Philip Mirowski just posted a Draft from 2019: “Can the Left Even Understand Why the Right is winning?” [https://www.academia.edu/39825773/Draft_Can_the_Left_Even_Understand_Why_the_Right_is_winning]
      The quote below from the third page of that paper speaks to what I believe is your suggestion that the person of the President may not be so important as the “colorless bureaucrats” who ride in on his coat-tails.

      “Hence the starting point of these remarks: an observation that the Left has demonstrated it cannot understand the principles that unite the neoliberal movement, and that in turn renders them vulnerable time and again to being undermined when they attempt to argue against it. For instance, how many times does one encounter the assertion that Trump’s politics cannot be neoliberal, because he repeatedly attacks international free trade? Or that Trump heralds a deep crisis of neoliberalism?”

      “To deal with this immediate issue: In 2017, there was a spate of journalism documenting the extent to which Trump’s lower level staff functionaries were dominated by neoliberals, with an estimated 70% of White House senior officials having ties to one or more Koch-funded organizations. But of course, all those colorless bureaucrats attracted no interest whatsoever in the larger media, occupied as it was in recounting every tweet and silly gaffe Donald Trump made. The backstory that went untold is that Trump himself was utterly incapable of understanding policy or the process of governing, so he mostly left them to Mike Pence and underlings, who were closely associated with the Neoliberal Thought Collective [NTC].”

      So … “If magically, the vote was overturned…” — I recall something like that already happened not long ago and the American democracy continued little altered from the American democracy as we know it. That American democracy appears quite comfortable with “massive homelessness and poverty as federal programs expire and evictions and food insecurity skyrocket”. In place of Mike Pence we will now have Kamala Harris. What sort of team comes in in place of team Kochtopus?

      Obama … Trump … Biden … figureheads of different sorts whose quirks and personalities and books keep us entertained while the real action goes on behind the curtain.

  19. Boris

    Im happy to read your initial remarks about the style of the writing, or the voice of it cause its close to my own perception. I only read some eight pages or so, and I found the style extremely strange: not really bad, not good either, but somehow totally non-human. To me the voice of the book sounded like it was written by an AI which did surprisingly good work, but failed at the last 2 Percent or so. A kind of uncanny valley style.

  20. Steve Ruis

    On TV, a Steven Colbert interview question was about getting briefed on aliens. Mr. Obama admitted he had been and the follow-up question of of “Well … ? got a response of “I can’t tell you.”

    The threat of alien invasion is being held in reserve for when the other fears being peddled by our national security infrastructure lose their grip on our imaginations.

    Whether or not there is any information about alien contacts is almost a moot point if they are unwilling to even share possibilities and contingency plans that may blunt the initial shivers of pronouncing said information. Such a “threat” is just too good the waste, real or not.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      I couldn’t get past Colbert’s creepy and sycophantic, “Let me drink you in.”

      I respected and enjoyed Colbert once, but he and his ilk have become completely insufferable.

  21. Tim

    It’s easy to cherry pick faults of anyone (administration), particularly if you avoid inconvenient granularity. Very sad to read this nippy piece.

    The frustrating part of his first term was how republicans strung him (us) along under the guise of bi-partisanship. Nonetheless, lesson learned for this next Biden go-around (I hope).

    1. ChrisPacific

      This is a variant of the “Obama meant well, but the mean Republicans wouldn’t let him do anything” theme, which is still very prevalent even to this day.

      NC has been debunking this one for some time. See this frequently-referenced post from 2010 for example, or this one from 2012.

      That first link gives me a rather depressing feeling of deja vu, since Biden is currently engaged in repeating almost every single one of the mistakes described in it.

  22. Scott1

    Where does all the fame money come from to pay people like Obama so much money to write?
    I buy a lot of history books. I have even read Grant’s “Memoirs” noting his cold heart when it came to the American Indians of his day. It is Grant who fixed it for the rest of the ex presidents I suppose. Grant got more for his memoirs than anyone ever before. McFeely said Mark Twain made the arrangements to make up for making the foot in his mouth joke that had a lot to do with his losing the last election. Grant’s excuses were that his wife wanted wealth, and all his decent friends has gotten killed either during the war, or there was the one fell under a train.
    The thing about Grant’s book was that it sold on its own enough to make a profit.
    Is something like Obama’s book really going to make a profit? I have strong doubts. To me, as a writer, it makes a difference. For a filmmaker as it goes, there is the tentpole that gets all the money.
    We will see how things turn out for Mr. Obama after we have seen his Television Shows. It will be a faster measure of his relevance.

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