Former President Barack Obama has a reputation for being cool and detached, with a professorial demeanor that helped earn him the nickname “no-drama Obama.”
As the first president with more than a drop of African American blood coursing through his veins, he was cognizant of the stereotypes he would face and took pains to defy them with his measured words and his refusal to play the part of the angry black man.
Many progressives were disappointed with Obama during the Trump presidency because he maintained what they considered an obsolete tradition of refraining from commenting on the actions and policies of the sitting president from his position as his immediate predecessor despite the unprecedented assault on the rule of law that the orange-hued monstrosity brought into the White House.
A new book, however, indicates that Obama’s public reluctance to criticize Trump while the GOP leader was still in office sometimes disappeared when he was speaking in private with donors and advisors.
Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaigns to Defeat Donald Trump by The Atlantic staff writer Edward-Isaac Dovere, will be officially published next week, but The Guardian managed to get a hold of an advance copy that contains the revelation that Obama referred to Donald Trump with a profane assortment of epithets that included everything from “madman” to “racist, sexist pig” to “that fucking lunatic” to “corrupt motherfucker.”
Dovere reveals that initially, the former Democratic president preferred the idea of Donald Trump as the 2016 Republican candidate over Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) because he considered the New York reality show host not nearly as intelligent and clever as the right-wing Texas senator.
Once Trump was ensconced in the White House, however, Obama’s tune changed, at least when he was talking to potential Democratic Party donors.
“He’s a madman,” Dovere quotes Obama while telling “big donors looking to squeeze a reaction out of him in exchange for the big checks they were writing to his foundation”.
Dovere goes on to detail the withering comments with which Obama would pepper his private conversations with aides and political allies.
“More often: ‘I didn’t think it would be this bad.’ Sometimes: ‘I didn’t think we’d have a racist, sexist pig.’ Depending on the outrage of the day … a passing ‘that fucking lunatic’ with a shake of his head.”
It’s comforting to know that despite the former president’s public silence, he was thinking a somewhat milder version of what most of the rest of us were posting in our Facebook and Twitter posts.
The one thing that seemed to inspire the most heated denunciation of his successor was when Obama learned that Trump was speaking with foreign leaders — most notably Russian President Vladimir Putin — without aides present to confirm the details of the calls.
Obama’s response was something we’ve likely all muttered to ourselves during the past four-plus years:
“‘That corrupt motherfucker,’ he remarked,” Dovere writes.
While the news that Obama harbored the feelings that the new book reveals is encouraging in its confirmation that even the most level-headed among us were horrified by the evil excesses of the Trump era, it is a shame that the former president felt obligated to keep his opinions limited to a small group of insiders at a time when America needed all the moral leadership that it could get.
Let’s hope he remembers his characterization of Donald Trump as a lunatic, sexist, racist, “corrupt motherfucker” when he’s called to eulogize his fellow former president upon Trump’s unfortunately not-early enough death.
Original reporting by Martin Pengelly at The Guardian.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.