Former president Barack Obama questioned himself and his progressive presidency in the wake of Donald Trump's 2016 election upset, telling aides "maybe we pushed too far," according to a new memoir by former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes

By Tierney McAfee
May 31, 2018 03:53 PM
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Former president Barack Obama questioned himself and his progressive presidency in the wake of Donald Trump‘s 2016 election upset, telling aides “maybe we pushed too far,” according to a new memoir by former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes.

In The World As It Is, due out June 5, Rhodes writes that in the days after Trump defeated the Obama-backed Hillary Clinton, the former president confided in staffers: “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early.

“Maybe we pushed too far. … Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe,” Obama is further quoted as saying in Rhodes’ memoir, according to CBS News.

Days later, Obama reportedly felt more optimistic, reasoning, “Maybe this is what people want. I’ve got the economy set up well for him. No facts. No consequences. They can just have a cartoon.”

But Rhodes, a presidential speechwriter turned deputy national security adviser to Obama, said his former boss was still shook by the possibility that Trump could unravel the Obama legacy.

Barack Obama
Win McNamee/Getty

During the presidential transition, Obama reportedly said he felt like Michael Corleone, the character from The Godfather. “I almost got out,” Obama said, quoting a famous line from the film.

Rhodes was also blindsided by Trump’s victory, but he writes that he “should have seen it coming” — if only based on how Clinton lost to Obama in 2008.

“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,” Rhodes writes.