Obama: 'Americans spooked by black man in White House' led to Trump presidency
"My very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic" – former President Obama.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
Just before President George W. Bush left the White House after two terms, he declared he wouldn't be weighing in with thoughts on his successor, following the model of his father, George H.W. Bush.
But Barack Obama made no such pledge. And now, just days after the 2020 election, the 44th president is hawking a new book so get ready to hear a lot more from him.
Obama, the first biracial man to be elected president, makes an incendiary charge in his book, "A Promise Land," which comes out Tuesday.
President Trump, he claims, “promised an elixir for the racial anxiety” of “millions of Americans spooked by a black man in the White House."
Those Americans – whom Obama implies appear racist – were prey to “the dark spirits that had long been lurking on the edges of the modern Republican party – xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, an antipathy toward black and brown folks."
Obama continues: “It was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted. Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United States and was thus an illegitimate president.”
Obama writes that "he came to regard Trump's media ubiquity and characteristic shamelessness as merely an exaggerated version of the Republican Party's attempts to appeal to White Americans' anxieties about the first Black president – a sentiment he said 'had migrated from the fringe of GOP politics to the center – an emotional, almost visceral, reaction to my presidency, distinct from any differences in policy or ideology,'" CNN reported.
The 768-page memoir is reportedly just volume one of his latest memoirs.
Obama also writes about his shortcomings, like his failure to pass immigration reform, which he called "a bitter pill to swallow." But he said his agenda was always correct, though voters swept out a slew of Democrats in the 2010 midterm election, two years into his presidency.
"As far as I was concerned, the election didn't prove our agenda had been wrong," Obama writes of 2010. "It just proved that ... I'd failed to rally the nation, as FDR had once done, behind what I knew to be right. Which to me was just as damning."
Obama also write about his opponent in the 2008 election, the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and his running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
He says he wonders sometimes whether McCain would still have picked Palin if he had known "her spectacular rise and her validation as a candidate would provide a template for future politicians, shifting his party's center and the country's politics overall in a direction he abhorred."
"I'd like to think that given the chance to do it over again, he might have chosen differently," Obama writes. "I believe he really did put his country first."