What happened: Barack H. Obama, the Netflix producer and former president of the United States, signaled his support for President Joe Biden, who officially entered the 2024 Democratic primary on Tuesday.
"Proud of all that Joe Biden and his administration have accomplished these last few years," Obama wrote on Twitter. "He’s delivered for the American people—and he’ll continue to do so once he’s re-elected. Let’s get to work."
When Biden was considering a possible run against Hillary Clinton in 2016, Obama "quietly pressured [him] to sit out the race," according to the New York Times. As the 2020 election approached, Obama tried his best to talk Biden out of running. "You don't have to do this, Joe, you really don't," he reportedly told Biden in 2019.
Obama was considerably less tactful behind his former running mate's back. He told Democratic colleagues that Biden "doesn't really have it" and warned them not to "underestimate Joe's ability to fuck things up." According to journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, authors of Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency, Obama "worried that his former vice president would embarrass himself on the campaign trail and that the people around him would not be able to prevent a belly-flop."
Context: Biden, 80, is the oldest president in American history and is statistically unlikely to survive a second four-year term in office. He will face off against bloated scion Robert Kennedy Jr. and sultry guru Marianne Williamson in the Democratic primary.
Bottom line: Obama is possessed of a preternatural capacity for self-regard. He is the first U.S. president since Dwight Eisenhower to write a multi-volume memoir after leaving the White House.
Watching his former vice president ignore his advice, beat former president Donald Trump, and serve as president—while his own legacy is steadily diminished to the point of irrelevancy—must be agonizing for Obama.
Thoughts and prayers.