Former president Barack Obama refuses to let Joe Biden enjoy his victory in the 2020 election. Just days after Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election, Obama launched a publicity tour in support of A Promised Land, the 768-page first volume of his third memoir.
Excerpts started leaking before Election Day and continued to make headlines as the votes were counted. Biden's name was rarely mentioned. Over the weekend Obama was interviewed on 60 Minutes, where he plugged his forthcoming presidential library in Chicago. On Monday, the Atlantic published an in-depth interview with the former president, in which he talks about his love for Ta-Nehisi Coates.
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Obama's conveniently timed book tour is yet another attempt to undermine the political ambitions of his former running mate. Obama, for example, had repeatedly advised Biden not to run for president in the first place. In 2016, according to the New York Times, he "quietly pressured Mr. Biden to sit out the race, partly because he believed Mrs. Clinton had a better chance of building on his agenda."
We all know how that turned out. The coronation of Hillary Clinton—possibly the least likable politician in American history—as the Democratic nominee all but ensured the election of Donald Trump. In 2019, Obama tried once again to talk Biden out of running, reportedly telling him: "You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t."
Additional reporting during the 2020 Democratic primary suggested Obama didn't think Biden was a very good candidate. The former president allegedly said Biden "doesn't really have it" and that Democrats shouldn't "underestimate Joe’s ability to fuck things up." Despite being multimillionaires, Obama and his wife Michelle refused to donate to Biden's presidential campaign.
Biden appears to have taken note of Obama's lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy. After a leaked book excerpt on Obamacare gave Biden precisely zero credit for helping to pass the controversial legislation, Biden started referring to his health care plan as "Bidencare," a proposal that "will, in fact, provide for … affordable health care."
During the primary, after Biden's victory in South Carolina set him on a path to the nomination, Obama reportedly called to congratulate him. After that call, according to the New York Times, Biden "made it clear to his staff" that Obama "had not lifted a finger" to help him on the campaign trail.
Obama, who is the first former president since Dwight Eisenhower to publish a multi-volume memoir about his time in office, deserves some sympathy as well. Due to his pathological infatuation with his own thoughts, sitting on the sidelines watching his former VP do his old job is going to be excruciating.