I remember the geo-political world being shocked and mortified a couple years ago when word leaked that former British Prime Minister David Cameron had privately stated his belief that American counterpart Barack Obama was a narcissist.
Steve Hilton, who served as a chief strategist for Cameron, said on the news program he hosted in 2018,
"My old boss, former British prime minister David Cameron, thought Obama was one of the most narcissistic, self-absorbed people he'd ever dealt with. Obama never listened to anyone, always thought he was smarter than every expert in the room, and treated every meeting as an opportunity to lecture everyone else."
Though Cameron has since downplayed the claims made by his former adviser, there's no denying that the description matches pretty closely the lived experience of Americans between 2008 and 2016.
No one politically aware during that era fails to remember the former president's propensity for delivering speeches and addresses that had all the characteristics of an agitated schoolmarm lecturing her unruly and disobedient students. Nothing unified the American people for those eight years quite like the collective enjoyment of being placed in the time-out corner after disappointing our exalted ruler.
So, words can't express how exciting it is to consider that the coming days will offer to us a renewed involvement of Barack Obama in the American political scene. The former president has authored a book telling us, in exquisite detail, about his own greatness. And in case you'd forgotten how Obama is better than anyone at telling us how brilliant Obama is, he's about to remind you.
Having pocketed $65 million for he and his wife's writing, Obama is planning to release a two-volume set about his political exploits as senator and president. The first, called "A Promised Land," is 768 pages long. Only Barack Obama is capable of thinking it takes a near-800 page text to reveal how magnificent his 12-year career in national politics was, and still consider the story only half-told.
But fanfic can get wordy, I suppose. And if you doubt that's what we're all getting in "A Promised Land," check out this excerpt:
"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."
Trump, Obama writes, "promised an elixir for the racial anxiety [of] millions of Americans spooked by a black man in the White House."
The kneejerk reaction to something so patently absurd is to push back and articulate the obvious reality that Obama was always the only one of consequence who was ever actually concerned about his race. Senator Josh Hawley explained it nicely:
But looking even deeper, the real issue isn't Obama's obsession with letting everyone know he is half-black, nor his low regard for the integrity of Republicans. It's the shocking, almost clinical high regard he has for himself.
No one can forget, of course, the deified tones of declaring that his ascension to power was the "moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the planet began to heal." But looking at these excerpts from "A Promised Land," one quickly realizes that of all the lessons the former president may have learned the last four years, humility wasn't one.
To the degree that half the country was enraged by Obama's presence in the Oval Office, it was self-evidently the result of his extremism and bitterly partisan approach to governance. It was his slouch towards socialism and insistence on social revolution, not his skin color.
But rather than a sober self-assessment of such reality, he's now exposed as still entertaining the crackpot proposition that somehow a racist country, "spooked" by his skin pigmentation, elected him twice by significant margins. I'm not sure how many times the former president is going to bludgeon this poor dead horse for attention, but he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Obama needs this narrative. He needs racial division alive and well in order to justify his continued relevance to contemporary society. So, he stokes it, agitates it, picks at it like a scab, and then in his trademark smugness markets himself as the post-racial savant beneficently offering the healing balm America needs. Exactly as a trademark narcissist would do.