'Obama was a light. Trump is of the night.' ... Politics is a fickle beast. Barack Obama won more votes among blue-collar workers than did his opponent...but it was those very blue-collar workers who tipped the scales in Donald Trump’s victory...but in voting for Trump they voted against their economic interest. Trump hasn’t and won’t help the health of the poorer, nor improve income inequality, nor in the long run give them jobs...What he did give these voters was a sense of pride in being American, as Obama did, but Hilary Clinton couldn’t. 'Put America First!' he shouted again and again. Trump blindsided them with talk of dismantling free trade. Even though events and the long run will show he has shot America in the foot, it sounded convincing ... Obama would have won a third term if allowed to run. He had more appeal across the electorate than Trump. It was Mrs. Clinton who lost it ... Obama was a light. Trump is of the night. Much of what you need to know for the future is in this book, in particular where the light switch is.
Had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election and then built on Obama’s achievements, Pfeiffer’s unspectacular, jokey apologia might have gone down easy—a champagne flute of fizzy recollections. But with so many people waking each day to read the news with fear and loathing, the book’s flamboyantly wacky tone and dearth of interesting disclosures will, I imagine, encourage most readers right now to pass it over ... The book is full of the standard set pieces of the campaign-memoir genre: the ritual self-deprecation; the lucky breaks and twists of fate; the tales of early flubs, boners and fiascoes that our hero thought would ruin his career but can now be safely recounted. There’s little here, though, that sheds light on an important question lurking within its pages: How did the same country that elected its first black president, a man who reflexively appealed to the better angels of our nature, then proceed to choose its first president without any political experience or commitments, who appeals ceaselessly to our basest selves? ... But it’s not without its moments.
Yes We (Still) Can... is not a history of the Obama administration ... Instead, he bills his book as a sort of road map for the future, an attempt 'to better understand the current state of politics and look at where we go from here' ... I’m not sure he achieves this goal because he doesn’t seem to have grasped the magnitude of the change that swept America in the election of November 2016—a result arguably as radical as the one in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected the country’s first black president ... Readers seeking to understand how the optimism of the Obama era gave way to the darkness of Trump’s vision of America First may be left wanting.
The problem with Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump, is that it never quite decides what it wants to be. Yes We Still Can does have its charming moments, especially in showing Obama’s human side amid the pressures of running for president and then ascending to leader of the free world. Pfeiffer recalls his initial meeting with the then-junior senator from Illinois who was contemplating a 2008 run ... It’s not giving away the ending to reveal that Pfeiffer concludes by saying of Obama, I'am going to miss him. We are going to miss him.' That point is accentuated in most of the preceding 280 pages, and the many Americans who feel similarly will find nothing in this book to dissuade them.
If I were a Democrat, I wouldn’t listen. For one thing, electoral politics is protean: What worked in 2008 and 2012 is almost guaranteed not to work in 2020. For another, Mr. Obama and his team surely bear some of the blame for the Democrats’ 2016 defeat. If he was truly the great leader his panegyrists claim, why couldn’t Mr. Obama’s chosen successor get herself elected against a seemingly unelectable agitator who spurned and ridiculed Mr. Obama at every opportunity? Mr. Pfeiffer has no interest in self-criticism. Instead he blames Fox News, the reporters who failed to treat the Obama administration with sufficient reverence, the media’s unfair treatment of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump’s evil use of Twitter, and just about anything that doesn’t implicate the 44th president ... The next Democratic nominee could do everything Mr. Pfeiffer advises and still not win for the simple reason that he or she is not Barack Obama.
Another Barack Obama staffer reveals his White House experiences ... During his campaign for the presidency and his two terms in office, Obama gathered a cadre of young, articulate, and apparently tireless men and women to serve him. In his debut memoir, Pfeiffer recounts his stints as Obama’s traveling secretary during the campaign and later director of communications and senior adviser ... Pfeiffer, an unabashed admirer, burnishes a familiar image of Obama as focused, idealistic, pragmatic, funny, caring, shrewd, savvy, and confidently competitive. 'Obama does not like to lose at anything,' writes the author, 'golf, basketball, cards, Scrabble, and most certainly campaigns.' ... A nostalgic look back and hopeful look forward.
...seeks to shed light on why Donald Trump won in 2016...With the goal of ensuring the liberal cause isn’t lost in future elections, Pfeiffer describes how he was hired by Obama during the 2008 campaign and how for the next six years he had a front-row seat to the president’s triumphs and struggles ... Taking a conversational, occasionally snarky tone, he brings the reader into high-level meetings...a fund-raiser attended by Kanye West; and his own awkward moments (he once split his pants in the Oval Office while preparing the president for a press conference) ... Those who share Pfeiffer’s admiration of Obama and his hopes for a Democratic resurgence—and, of course, fans of his podcast—will love both the chatty insider anecdotes and the advice.
Yes We (Still) Can, a breezy memoir by former Obama communications director Dan Pfeiffer, is a victim of bad timing. Had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election and then built on Obama’s achievements, Pfeiffer’s unspectacular, jokey apologia might have gone down easy – a champagne flute of fizzy recollections … Fans of Pfeiffer’s podcast, ‘Pod Save America,’ may still revel in the book’s affected sitcom zaniness … There’s little here, though, that sheds light on an important question lurking within its pages: How did the same country that elected its first black president…then proceed to choose its first president without any political experience or commitments, who appeals ceaselessly to our basest selves? … Yes We (Still) Can won’t take its place with the memoirs of men like Leon Panetta and Robert Gates as vital references for historians of the Obama presidency. But it’s not without its moments … Toward the end of the book, Pfeiffer, having departed the White House in 2015, returns for a final visit after Trump’s election. Plaintively, he looks at his former boss for a reed of hope to cling to, only to have the president reply, with his well-known deadpan understatement, ‘Look, this isn’t an ideal situation to say the least.’ They both laughed. Sometimes that’s all you can do.