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Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The World As It Wasn't

Column: Barack Obama's revealing reaction to Donald Trump's victory

Maybe you can help me out. I'm puzzling over a line in a New York Times story on The World As It Is, the forthcoming memoir from Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. The article, by Peter Baker, is about the parts of Rhodes's book that deal with Donald Trump's surprise victory over Hillary Clinton.

"In the weeks after Mr. Trump's election," Baker reports, "Mr. Obama went through multiple emotional stages," including flashes of "anger," "rare self-doubt," and taking "the long view." Do not think, however, that during the final weeks of his presidency Barack Obama was withdrawn or more self-obsessed than usual. People needed him. The day after the election, Baker continues, "Mr. Obama focused on cheering up his despondent staff."

For example—and here is the line that confuses me—"he sent a message to Mr. Rhodes saying, ‘There are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on the earth.'"

Say what? How does a dimly remembered Carl Sagan quote relate to 2016? Was Obama speaking in code? Was this an example of him taking the "long view"—implying that lol nothing matters because we are all cosmic dust adrift in the void? Was he suggesting the planet might be saved from Trump by an alien invasion? It sounds like the message you'd find inside an especially pretentious fortune cookie.


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