In this week’s New York Magazine, Gabriel Debenedetti has written a piece called “Where Is Barack Obama?” My first reaction to the headline was: “White folks need to stop asking where Obama is because he gave us eight long years and now he’s out there, living his life as a private f–king citizen.” But when I actually sat down to read the piece, I understood what was really being said – people in Obama’s orbit are explaining why Obama has stayed relatively quiet during the Fat Nazi’s presidency thus far. Those same Obama-orbit people are also making the argument – in public, now – for why Obama should come out of the shadows and start making bigger statements about the Fat Nazi’s fascism. You can read the full piece here. Here are a few highlights from the piece:
How he felt in the immediate wake of Trump’s inauguration: In Washington, where the former president still works and lives with his wife, Michelle, and his younger daughter, Sasha, Obama stewed. Ever since the shocking election, he had resisted condemning his successor directly. Early on, he would muse to senior aides in private about what it meant that the country had chosen Trump, bouncing between writing off the election as a freak accident and considering it a rejection of his own vision of America.
Obama doesn’t want to engage with Trump or the Deplorables on a daily basis: Obama’s reticence is more than simply a matter of communications strategy. He has mostly opted out of liberal America’s collective Trump-outrage cycle. Though he reads the Times and other newspapers, he doesn’t follow daily Trump developments on Twitter or watch television news. He is upset by the administration’s actions, and he’s confided to friends that what worries him most is the international order, the standing of the office of the presidency, the erosion of democratic norms, and the struggles of people who are suddenly unsure of their immigration status or the future of their health-care coverage. Still, in conversations with political allies, Obama insists that today’s domestic mess is a blip on the long arc of history and argues that his own work must be focused on progress over time — specifically on empowering a new generation of leaders. He says his legacy is not what concerns him.