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Barack Obama Reveals Meaning Behind Memoir Title, Gives Advice to Trump in ’60 Minutes’ Interview


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Former President Barack Obama continued his media tour in promotion of his new memoir, A Promised Land, on Sunday’s 60 Minutes, where he revealed the meaning behind the book’s title, shared advice to President Trump and expressed regret for keeping quiet about Trump for so long.

After appearing on CBS Sunday Morning, where he spoke to Gayle King, earlier in the day, Obama gave an interview to Scott Pelley for the network’s evening newsmagazine.

He revealed that the book title is indicative of his hope for the country, and what it can be.
“Even though we may not get there in our lifetimes, even if we experience hardships and disappointments along the way, I still have faith we can create a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union,” Obama said.

In the interview, he opened up about some parts of his book, including writing about wife Michelle’s strenuous objection to his decision to run for president way back when (he served from 2009-17). He writes in the book of her reaction: “The answer is no,” he quotes her as saying. “I do not want you running for president. God, Barack, when is it going to be enough?”

Pelley asked why Obama chose to run despite her protestations.

“It’s a legitimate question,” he replied, noting that his president run came after a series of other races, including his successful run for U.S. Senate and his failed run for Congress two years before that. Not to mention, they had two young daughers and Michelle was working full-time.

“I ask myself in the book, ‘How much of this is megalomania, how much of this is was vanity, how much is me trying to prove something to myself?’” he said. “Over time, she made a conclusion: ‘I shouldn’t stand in the way of this.’ She did so grudgingly, and the fact that I ended up winning didn’t necessarily alleviate her frustrations because the toll it takes on families is real. … The fact that she put up with it and forgave me — it was an act of grace that I am grateful for, and I’m not sure I deserved it.”

He also wrote about his last day as president in his book. He left a note to Trump that read, in part: “We are just temporary occupants of this office. It’s up to us to leave the instruments of our democracy as least as strong as we found them.”

Speaking to Pelley, Obama expounded on that last day in the White House: “The emotions really focus on the team that you’ve been working on. And it’s very rare outside of maybe wartime where you get a collection of people working together in a sustained way under that kind of pressure and stress. And so there’s a melancholy to it. There was also though, and I write about this, a satisfaction in knowing that I had finished the job, I had run my stretch of the race. And I could say unequivocally, despite regrets and disappointments about some things not getting done — the country was better off when I left than when I got there.”

In his book, Obama also questions, “Whether I was too tempered in speaking the truth, too cautious in word or deed.” Pelley asked the former president to elaborate.

“I think that’s a legitimate and understandable criticism,” Obama replied. “At the end of the day, I consistently tried to treat my political opposition in the ways I’d want to be treated, To not overreact when, for example, somebody yells, ‘You lie,’ in the middle of me giving a joint congressional address.”

On his last day in office, Obama wrote, he felt like he was leaving the presidency in the hands of “someone diametrically opposed to everything we stood for.”

“That may be the one thing that Donald Trump and I agree on, is that he doesn’t agree with me on anything,” Obama told Pelley. “I don’t see him as the cause for our divisions and the problems with our government. I think he’s an accelerant, but they preceded him. and sadly are going to likely outlast him.”

As for his advice to Trump, Obama noted that the former “doesn’t like to lose and never admits loss.” But he said that should concede and refrain from making any more accusations about voter fraud without evidence.

“A president is a public servant,” Obama said. “They are temporary occupants of the office, by design. And when your time is up then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego, and your own interests, and your own disappointments. My advice to President Trump is, if you want at this late stage in the game to be remembered as somebody who put country first it’s time for you to do the same thing.”

A Promised Land hits bookstores on Nov. 17. Watch the full interview here.

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