Do we have Obama and Blair to thank for Trump and Brexit?

It might be called Newton’s third law of politics – that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. But, as John Rentoul explains, sometimes politics can be more complicated than physics

Monday 24 September 2018 01:46 BST
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‘Obama’s America is the future. Trump’s America is the last throes of a bygone era’
‘Obama’s America is the future. Trump’s America is the last throes of a bygone era’ (Getty)

Did Barack Obama cause Donald Trump’s presidency?

The question is raised in Dan Pfeiffer’s memoir of his time as Obama’s press secretary, called Yes We (Still) Can. It is a wonderful book, energetic, honest and self-mocking. As a connoisseur of footnotes, I enjoyed the way Pfeiffer uses them to heckle himself. For example, he tells a story of his childhood about how he cheated at Trivial Pursuit. “I would take the cards with the questions from the box and go into my room and memorise the answers.” Thus at the age of 10 or 11 he was able to answer all the questions, including which movie won the Best Picture Oscar in 1944. At this point a footnote interjects: “It’s not that hard. The answer is Casablanca, the only movie that old that anyone has heard of.”

Ultimately, the book is upbeat – hence the title. “The good news,” he says, about the way the Republican Party “weaponised racial anxiety” to motivate its base, “is that this is not a sustainable strategy in a country that is getting more diverse by the minute. Obama’s America is the future. Trump’s America is the last throes of a bygone era.”

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