[Vision2020] Obama Checkmates Trump

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 17 12:45:57 PST 2020

The Daily Kos, 12/17/20

On Tuesday, I went to my local “club” store to do some pre-holiday stocking
up. As I walked through the airy, warehouse-like atmosphere, I passed a
table piled up with Barack Obama’s recent memoir, A Promised Land. Grabbing
a copy for half the $50 list price, I then proceeded to walk around the
store and pick up a few more items.

Almost immediately, an older gentleman accosted me from behind his mask,
saying, “You going to read that? You have to read that.” I assured him I
intended to read it.

Then as I walked out, the guy who checks your receipt against the contents
of your shopping cart saw that I had the book in my hand (while waiting in
line I’d read the preface), and says to me, “You got the book. Everyone’s
getting that book. We’re selling loads of them.”

Obama’s 768-page memoir (the first of two, covering Obama’s initial four
years in office) is well on course to become the best-selling presidential
memoir of all time, shattering all previous records on its first day of
sale last month.

As indicated above, I’ve only read the preface so far, but one thing stands
out from the first sentence: It is the real voice of Barack Obama—the voice
most of us have come to know so intimately after years of listening to his
speeches. It is an unmistakable voice, clear, honest, and above all, human,
with a genuine quality of humility that is impossible to feign or duplicate.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 17: President Barack Obama's memoir "A
Promised Land" goes on sale ahead of the holiday season at Barnes & Noble
Union Square on November 17, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie
McCarthy/Getty Images)
“A Promised Land,” by Barack Obama, (Crown Publishing Group, Penguin Random
In the very first paragraph of the book (excerpted here alongside an
interview Obama gave to The Atlantic), Donald Trump is referenced;
specifically, Obama refers to that jarring moment when it became evident
that “someone diametrically opposed to everything we stood for had been
chosen as my successor.”

Reading this couldn’t be called a revelation, but perhaps it provided a
moment of clarity. This holiday season, tens of millions of people are
likely to be getting a copy of this book, since after five weeks, it
remains the top nonfiction bestseller. This fact must be particularly
unbearable for Donald Trump, as his own truncated tenure comes to its
ignominious close and he is finally shown the door. As his bitter attempts
to construct an alternative reality for himself and his supporters
ultimately spent themselves, meeting rejection after rejection by our
country’s institutions, the contrast between Trump’s infantile hysterics
and Obama’s understated class and grace could not be more clear.

In the final days of a disastrous presidency, millions of Americans
throughout this country will be reading a memoir written by someone with a
fundamental decency that Donald Trump could never achieve in his wildest
Twitter-fueled fantasies. Not only would Trump have been intellectually
incapable of producing such an introspective self-examination of his
tenure, but it’s already obvious that he never, ever will have the kind of
national and global respect that Obama commanded (and continues to receive)
after his two terms in office had ended.

Nearly every facet and implication about Trump’s disgraceful, unseemly and
prolonged exit from power over the past six weeks that could be said has
been said. But what hasn’t been pointed out much is something obvious and
in plain sight: By defeating him in this election, President-elect Joe
Biden has once and for all crushed Trump’s singular motivation, one that’s
been glaringly visible throughout the last four years: his fervent desire
to erase Barack Obama’s place in history.

Trump has failed to do that, and failed miserably—and that has to be the
most galling thing for him.

What kind of memoir could Donald Trump produce now? Whatever it is, we know
it won’t be written by him. He doesn’t have the skills, the attention span,
or the interest to write such a thing, and quite honestly, he has done very
little for the country that is worth writing about. Is someone really
interested in revisiting how his signature abetted the largest corporate
tax cut in history, vastly enriching the wealthiest in this country while
providing little but token scraps to the vast majority of Americans? That’s
hardly the stuff memoirs are made of. Are his legions of frothing,
conspiracy-addled, and racist rednecks in America’s heartland going to
thrill to read about his failed wall, or his cruel, senseless immigration
policies, over and over again? Or his obsession with de-regulating our
environmental protections? How is he going to present reneging on the Paris
Climate Accord, abandoning the Iran Nuclear Treaty, or his trade war with
China as somehow interesting or heroic?

When every one of your achievements yields a net negative for the American
people, what do you write about in your memoir?

It’s painfully obvious that Trump doesn’t have the mental wherewithal to
provide a verifiable record of what he’s done in office, let alone to
convey something that would interest others. From all accounts he has been
a ghastly human being to work with, unable to retain anyone but the most
slavish sycophants for more than a few months at a time. Is someone going
to actually care about anything he did that would make a ghost-written,
phony tome worth promoting, let alone reading?

No one is going to be inviting Trump to bask in the glory of the world’s
stage. Neither he nor his family will ever be re-admitted to those nice
parties thrown by the noblesse oblige of our polite society. Culturally,
Trump has nothing to look forward to, save those rabid, spewing rallies in
front of people he neither respects nor has anything personally in common
with. His children may achieve some further notoriety and gaudy fame among
the right-wing bubble-sphere, but the highest strata of American society
and the rest of the world will give anyone named Trump the cold shoulder.

Trump never had a policy agenda beyond acting as a rubber stamp for
whatever the political right needed in order to stay in power, and thus,
continue to enjoy the limelight. Because he always felt insecure about
following in Obama’s footsteps, and because he is, in fact, an out-and-out
racist, the only thing that mattered to him was to get Obama out of his
head. From trying and failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to
denigrating the achievements of Obama’s foreign policy, to wiping out every
regulation he could find that his predecessor had instituted to better the
lives of Americans, Trump’s entire tenure has been driven by this one,
overwhelming fixation.

But ultimately, when given the opportunity to render their verdict on
Trump’s entire term, rather than reelect him, the American people chose
instead to replace him with Obama’s former vice president.

And while Trump sits and watches as whatever power he once had rapidly
fades away, meanwhile, people are lining up in droves to read the memoirs
of the most-respected president of the 21st century. That fact will haunt
him for the rest of his life.


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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