George Packer (born August 13, 1960) is an American journalist, novelist, and playwright. He is best known for his writings for The New Yorker about U.S. foreign policy and for his book The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq. Packer also wrote The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, covering the history of America from 1978 to 2012. In November 2013, The Unwinding received the National Book Award for Nonfiction. Packer is currently a staff writer for The Atlantic.
Witnessing the Obama Presidency, from Start to Finish (2018)
- "Witnessing the Obama Presidency, from Start to Finish" by George Packer, The New Yorker, June 18, 2018.
- Barack Obama was a writer before he became a politician, and he saw his Presidency as a struggle over narrative.
- Barack Obama was always better at explaining the meaning of democracy than at fighting its opponents.
- After Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the burden of proof is on anyone who would make the case for military action as a force for good.
- It’s hard to build a narrative around actions not taken, disasters possibly averted, hard realities accommodated. The story of what didn’t happen isn’t an easy one to tell.
- More than any modern President, Barack Obama had a keen sense of the limits of American power—and of his own.
- At the heart of Obama’s narrative was a belief that progress, in the larger scheme of things, was inevitable, and this belief underscored his position on every issue from marriage equality to climate change. His idea of progress was neither the rigid millennial faith of Woodrow Wilson nor Bush’s shallow God-blessed optimism. It was human-scale and incremental.
- Progressives find it hard to imagine that there are others who in good faith don’t want the better world they’re offering and will fiercely resist it.
A Political Obituary for Donald Trump (2020)
- "A Political Obituary for Donald Trump" (2020) by George Packer, The Atlantic, January/February 2021 Issue.
- "America under Trump became less free, less equal, more divided, more alone, deeper in debt, swampier, dirtier, meaner, sicker, and deader."
- "Trump’s lies will linger for years, poisoning the atmosphere like radioactive dust."
- "In a sense, Americans expected a degree of fabrication from their leaders. After Jimmy Carter, in his 1976 campaign, promised, 'I’ll never lie to you,' and then pretty much kept his word, voters sent him back to Georgia. Ronald Reagan’s gauzy fictions were far more popular."
- "Trump’s barrage of falsehoods—as many as 50 daily in the last fevered months of the 2020 campaign—complemented his unconcealed brutality. Lying was another variety of shamelessness. Just as he said aloud what he was supposed to keep to himself, he lied again and again about matters of settled fact—the more brazen and frequent the lie, the better."
- "Monopoly of public policy by experts—trade negotiators, government bureaucrats, think tankers, professors, journalists—helped create the populist backlash that empowered Trump."
- "Trump’s legacy includes an extremist Republican Party that tries to hold on to power by flagrantly undemocratic means, and an opposition pushed toward its own version of extremism."
- "The beginning of the end of Trump’s presidency arrived on March 11, 2020, when he addressed the nation for the first time on the subject of the pandemic and showed himself to be completely out of his depth. The virus was a fact that Trump couldn’t lie into oblivion or forge into a political weapon—it was too personal and frightening, too real."