Obama 'likens Trump presidency to OJ acquittal'
‘Trump is for a lot of white people what O. J.’s acquittal was to a lot of black folks – you know it’s wrong, but it feels good’: Barack Obama’s acerbic aside revealed by his former speech writer in new book
- Ben Rhodes, who worked for Obama from 2009 to 2017, recalls the moment of ‘black humor’ from his former boss in his new book ‘After the Fall’
- Obama said: ‘Trump is for a lot of white people what O. J.’s acquittal was to a lot of Black folks – you know it’s wrong, but it feels good’
- Simpson’s acquittal in the highly publicised 1995 murder trial divided the United States with jubilant reactions among members of the black community and widespread disapproval among white people
Barack Obama compared white people’s feeling for Donald Trump to black people’s for O.J. Simpson after his acquittal, according to his former speech writer.
Ben Rhodes, who worked for Obama from 2009 to 2017, recalls the moment of ‘black humor’ from his former boss in his new book ‘After the Fall,’ which draws on his experience in the White House to argue that the United States and the world has become more authoritarian.
Obama said: ‘Trump is for a lot of white people what O. J.’s acquittal was to a lot of black folks – you know it’s wrong, but it feels good.’
The NFL superstar’s acquittal in the highly-publicised 1995 murder trial divided the United States with jubilant reactions among members of the black community and widespread disapproval among white people.
Initial polling showed that 70 percent of black people agreed Simpson hadn’t murdered his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman, while 75 percent of white people disagreed with the verdict.
The celebrations in the streets following the trial came four years after the savage beating of Rodney King by the LAPD, which sparked five days of rioting in Los Angeles.
Simpson was found responsible for the brutal stabbings in a civil suit brought two years later, but America’s split reaction to the first trial remains a point of fascination in the study of racial inequity.
Barack Obama in a recent appearance on The Late Late Show, left, and Donald Trump arrives to Trump Tower in New York City, right
Rhodes’ book focuses not just on the issue of race in the US, but more generally at what he sees is an increasing injustice throughout the world and a tendency towards illiberal attitudes which he feels America has helped to promote.
He describes America as ‘fallen’ following the election of Trump in 2016 and draws comparisons between his administration and authoritarian regimes in Hungary, Russia and China.
‘America had helped shape the world we lived in before descending into the cesspool of the Trump years,’ Rhodes asserts.
O.J. Simpson listens to testimony during his double murder trial in Los Angeles, March 16, 1995
‘We now had a government that was busy radicalizing a huge swath of American society, with pockets of the country turning to violent white supremacy or a QAnon conspiracy theory positing that America is secretly run by a cabal of child sex traffickers.’
But he does find fault solely with Trump, who he describes as a ‘lightning rod.’
‘The invasion of Iraq introduced a destabilizing new normal to global politics,’ Rhodes writes. ‘Laws and norms were for the weak, and the strong could do anything they wanted.’
Rhodes previously wrote a successful memoir, ‘The World as It Is,’ about his time with Obama in the White House, painting a picture of visionary president.
Obama’s asides about Trump have previously been reported, including that he referred to his successor as a ‘madman’ and a ‘racist, sexist pig.’
Edward-Isaac Dovere, a staff writer at the Atlantic, writes in ‘Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaigns to Defeat Trump,’ that the former president called Trump a ‘f***ing lunatic’ and ‘corrupt motherf***er.’
Dovere wrote that Obama, like a number of Democrats, liked the idea of Trump being the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, believing he would be easier to knock off in the general election than GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, a Princeton and Harvard Law School graduate.
President Obama with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, in March 2012 at the White House
Instead, Trump shocked the political world by beating a former secretary of State, U.S. senator and first lady, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
In 2017, Dovere reported, Obama started to realize ‘he’s a madman,’ when it came to Trump.
Obama’s most intense reaction – his calling of Trump ‘that corrupt motherf***er’ – came after he had learned that Trump was holding phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin without aides on the line.
Obama did hit the campaign trail for Biden in the fall – and attacked Trump, but only went so far as to call him ‘crazy.’
‘And with Joe and Kamala at the helm you’re not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day. And that’s worth a lot,’ Obama said at an October rally in Philadelphia. ‘You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting.’
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