Former 2-term US President Barack Obama gave his personal accounts of his impressions of foreign leaders in his new memoir, “A Promised Land”. He described Vladimir Putin as a tough Chicago “ward boss” and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy as someone full of “overblown rhetoric” in the first volume of his two-part memoir.
A Promised Land upon its initial launch in US and Canada sold nearly 890,000 copies – a record sale for its publisher Penguin Random House. It is expected to become by far the gross-selling presidential memoir in United States. The first African-American President in the book recounts his travels and meetings around the world as 44th WH boss. Here are some.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
According to Obama the Russian premier reminded him of political barons he met during his early career in Chicago. He writes Putin was “like a ward [district] boss, except with nukes and a UN Security Council veto”.
He continues: “Putin did, in fact, remind me of the sorts of men who had once run the Chicago machine or Tammany Hall [a New York City political organization] – tough, street-smart, unsentimental characters who knew what they knew, who never moved outside their narrow experiences, and who viewed patronage, bribery, shakedowns, fraud, and occasional violence as legitimate tools of the trade.”
The German chancellor was praised as “steady, honest, intellectually rigorous, and instinctually kind”. He noted that she had at first been skeptical of him because of his lofty speeches and the rhetorical devices he used in them. “I took no offence, figuring that as a German leader, an aversion to possible demagoguery was probably a healthy thing.”
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The Turkish leader is referred to as cordial and generally responsive to American’s requests.
“But whenever I listened to him speak, his tall frame slightly stooped, his voice a forceful staccato that rose an octave in response to various grievances or perceived slights. I got the strong impression that his commitment to democracy and the rule of law might last only as long as it preserved his own power.”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron
Obama found the Eton-educated conservative and former UK PM (2010-2016) as “urbane and confident” and had “the easy confidence of someone who had never been pressed too hard by life”.
Obama said he took to him as a person (“I liked him personally, even when we butted heads”) but was blatantly honest while taking exception to his economic policies. “Cameron hewed closely to free-market orthodoxy, having promised voters that his platform of deficit reduction and cuts to government services – along with regulatory reform and expanded trade – would usher in a new era of British competitiveness,” he wrote. “Instead, predictably, the British economy would fall deeper into a recession.”
The former President likened his French counterpart to someone with “all emotional outbursts and overblown rhetoric” and described him as “a figure out of a Toulouse-Lautrec painting”.
“Conversations with Sarkozy were by turns amusing and exasperating, his hands in perpetual motion, his chest thrust out like a bantam cock’s, his personal translator… always beside him to frantically mirror his every gesture and intonation as the conversation swooped from flattery to bluster to genuine insight, never straying from his primary, barely disguised interest, which was to be at the center of the action and take credit for whatever it was that might be worth taking credit for.”
Indian PM Manmohan Singh
Showering his praise on the former Indian PM he described him as having been “wise, thoughtful, and scrupulously honest” and the “chief architect of India’s economic transformation”. Mr. Singh was a “self-effacing technocrat who’d won the people’s trust not by appealing to their passions but bringing about higher living standards and maintaining a well-earned reputation for not being corrupt”, Obama noted.