From Obama's former communications director and current co-host of Pod Save America comes a colorful account of how politics, the media, and the Internet changed during the Obama presidency and how Democrats can fight back in the Trump era.
'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.