Obama After Trump Won: ‘I Wonder Whether I Was 10 or 20 Years Too Early’

Barack Obama / Getty Images
Getty Images
• May 30, 2018 9:51 pm


Following Donald Trump's election victory, former President Barack Obama asked his aides whether he was "10 or 20 years too early," according to a new book by one of his former advisers.

Ben Rhodes, former Obama deputy national security adviser, wrote about the conversation in his upcoming book The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House, as reported by the New York Times. Obama's reflection on Trump's 2016 presidential victory over Hillary Clinton came shortly after the election while he rode in a motorcade in Lima, Peru.

As Obama was riding in his presidential limousine with some of his aides, he asked them "What if we were wrong?"

He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind. "Maybe we pushed too far," Mr. Obama said. "Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe."

His aides reassured him that he still would have won had he been able to run for another term and that the next generation had more in common with him than with Mr. Trump. Mr. Obama, the first black man elected president, did not seem convinced. "Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early," he said.

Obama and his aides were confident that Clinton would win the election and were shocked when Trump defeated Clinton. After this, Obama questioned whether the country was ready for his presidency.

Rhodes, however, said they should have seen it coming because they had successfully run against Clinton in 2008 by using the same message Trump employed.

"I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should have seen it coming," Rhodes wrote. "Because when you distilled it, stripped out the racism and misogyny, we’d run against Hillary eight years ago with the same message Trump had used: She’s part of a corrupt establishment that can’t be trusted to bring change."