Barack Obama has released his new memoir, A Promised Land, detailing his role as President of the United States from 2009 to 2011. Obama was at the center of many moments of history throughout his presidency, particularly being the first African-American president of the United States; therefore, it is no surprise that his memoir is full of fascinating insights, with some surprising revelations about the previous president. Here we round up the best lessons to take away from A Promised Land.
Everyone makes mistakes
In the memoir, Obama reflects on his time in office and openly admits to making several mistakes. He candidly acknowledges some of his shortcomings and regrets, particularly noting his failure to pass immigration reform, which he describes as “a bitter pill to swallow.”
Not all problems have a clear solution
There is no doubt that throughout his role a president, Obama was faced with many impossible situations. Although Obama has frequently praised his staff in helping him solve certain issues, he honestly notes that “no problem that landed on my desk, foreign or domestic, had a clean, 100% solution. If it had, someone else down the chain of command would have solved it already.”
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Everyone has challenging days
Obama is heartbreakingly frank about his worst day as president. When speaking to Oprah about A Promised Land, he identified the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012, which saw 20 children and six adults killed by an armed gunman, as one of the hardest days of his presidency. “That was not only the saddest day of my presidency but when Congress failed to do anything in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, that was the angriest I ever was in my presidency. I was disgusted and appalled by the inaction,” Obama said. “You had parents that had just lost their children sitting in front of senators asking for very modest, reasonable approaches… And it was all viewed as politics, as opposed to this human moment we should have been able to respond to as a society,” he added.
Surround yourself with people you trust
Throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, current president-elect Joe Biden served as his vice president, and over their eight years in office, the two formed an unbreakable bond and friendship. “I liked the fact that Joe would be more than ready to serve as president if something happened to me — and that it might reassure those who still worried I was too young,” Obama writes in the book. “What mattered most, though, was what my gut told me — that Joe was decent, honest, and loyal. I believed that he cared about ordinary people and that when things got tough, I could trust him. I wouldn’t be disappointed.”
Be hopeful for the future
A Promised Lands ends in 2011, however, towards the final moments of the book Obama takes a step back from the time frame and acknowledges the current climate, revolving around the recent US election and the coronavirus pandemic. He writes about his hope for the future, stating he is “convinced that the pandemic we’re currently living through is both a manifestation of and a mere interruption in the relentless march toward an interconnected world, one in which peoples and cultures can’t help but collide.”