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I have lots of criticisms of Obama. On balance I think he did a pretty solid job under very challenging circumstances. And I greatly admire him personally. But again, it’s not about defending Obama. It’s about understanding the radicalization of the American right on its own terms, which is really the only way you can understand it or grapple with it.
Otherwise, you end up with this very shallow and circular thinking that, well, Obama was basically XYZ and that got us Trump. So if we do the opposite of XYZ that will get us less Trump. That obviously doesn’t follow.
Authoritarian nationalism has its own ambitions and goals that are not just about the shortcomings of the left or center-left or the debates which are internal to it. So everybody is free to criticize Obama on every front; and we should, just in the sense that these things are important to think through. But it’s not a proxy for understanding Trumpism or the Republican radicalization which gave birth to it.