In his fourth interview with Rolling Stone magazine’s publisher, Jann Wenner, President Obama reflected on his legacy, Donald Trump’s stunning election win and the road ahead after the White House. The president seemed to be in both a reflective and reactive mood in the interview, conducted in the Oval Office the day after the Nov. 8 election, cautioning against a “sky is falling” attitude toward the next four years.
Most surprising, Obama, who stumped hard for former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, said he wasn’t all that surprised by Trump’s win.
“So I think the odds of Donald Trump winning were always around 20 percent,” he said. “That [doesn’t] seem like a lot, but one out of five is not that unusual. It’s not a miracle.”
The Obamas plan to stay active after leaving the White House, the president said. After catching up on some sleep and taking his wife on a “well-deserved vacation,” Obama said, he plans to write a book and organize his presidential center around training the next generation of political leaders. But, no, Michelle Obama is not running for office — ever. “You can see the incredible resonance she has with the American people. But I joke that she’s too sensible to want to be in politics.”
Throughout the interview, which Wenner had thought the administration might cancel considering the timing and the outcome of the election, the publisher attempts to get the president to wax poetic on how many of his progressive policies will be reversed in the Trump years — his efforts on climate change, the Affordable Care Act. But Obama doesn’t bite.
“Yeah, listen. If you want to persuade me that everything is going to be terrible, then we can talk ourselves into that. Or we can act. It is what it is. There’s been an election. There’s going to be a Trump presidency, and Republicans are going to control Congress. And the question is gonna be, for those like you and I, who care about these issues, do we figure out how to continue to make progress in this environment until we have a chance for the next election,” he said. Later he reemphasized that point: “There’s no benefit that’s derived from pulling into a fetal position. We go out there, and we work.”