BARACK Obama has bashed Vladimir Putin as a "tough" but "physically unremarkable" man and issued similarly scathing commentary on Mitch McConnell and former presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The former US president likened the Russian leader to "the tough, street-smart ward bosses who used to run the Chicago machine" in the first volume of his upcoming memoir, A Promised Land.
“Physically, he was unremarkable,” the 6foot tall Obama said of the 5foot 5inches tall Putin in an excerpt obtained by The New York Times.
Obama's personal relationship with Putin grew increasingly strained over years of failed attempts to mend US ties with Russia that began in 2009 and culminated in the infamous stare-down during their final face-to-face at a 2016 G20 summit.
The outgoing Obama administration expelled 35 suspected Russian spies from the US and imposed several sanctions against the country's leading intelligence services for meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
In his 768-page memoir, due out on November 17, the former commander-in-chief reflected on how his historic election in 2008 prompted a wave of bitter and divisive turmoil that has reshaped the Republican Party.
Obama cited the elevation of Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor who was chosen as Arizona Sen John McCain's running mate in 2008, to the Republican presidential ticket as the point where things began to go downhill for the GOP.
"Through Palin, it seemed as if the dark spirits that had long been lurking on the edges of the modern Republican Party — xenophobia, anti intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, an antipathy toward Black and brown folks — were finding their way to center stage," he said, according to an excerpt obtained by CNN.
The two-time former president delves into Washington politics and reflected on how Donald Trump's racist policies were a result of him capitalizing on Republicans' growing inclination to shun evidence and polite political behavior simply to oppose the first black US president.
“In that sense,” he writes, “there wasn’t much difference between Trump and [House speaker John] Boehner or [Senate majority leader Mitch] McConnell," he said.
"They, too, understood that it didn’t matter whether what they said was true … in fact, the only difference between Trump’s style of politics and theirs was Trump’s lack of inhibition.”
Obama believes that him winning the presidency in both 2008 and 2012 "triggered a deep-seated panic" reflective of America's "racial anxiety."
"It was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted," he wrote.
"Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United States and was thus an illegitimate president. For millions of Americans spooked by a Black man in the White House, he promised an elixir for their racial anxiety."
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