LONDON: David Cameron’s former director of strategy has said Cameron thought Barack Obama was one of the “most narcissistic, self-absorbed people” he had ever encountered, despite the pair’s once notorious “bromance”.
Steve Hilton, one of Cameron’s closest advisers before the pair fell out over immigration and Brexit last year, made the comments during the latest instalment of his show, The Next Revolution, on Fox News.
Discussing Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury, Hilton said any claims by elitists and the establishment that Donald Trump was mentally unfit for the presidency came second to Trump’s promotion of a pro-worker, populist agenda on immigration, infrastructure, trade and the fight against China.
He went on to emphasise the shortcomings of Trump’s predecessors, adding: “My old boss, former British prime minister David Cameron, thought Obama was one of the most narcissistic, self-absorbed people he’d ever dealt with.
“Obama never listened to anyone, always thought he was smarter than every expert in the room, and treated every meeting as an opportunity to lecture everyone else. This led to real-world disasters, like Syria and the rise of Isis.”
But the real world did not matter to the elites, Hilton said. “For them, it’s all about style and tone, not substance and results. Donald Trump offends the elites aesthetically, like a piece of art that’s not to their taste.
“They can afford to do that because they live in a world of booming neighbourhoods, delightful hipster eateries and everyone they know employed in the virtual world of the knowledge economy. They don’t see what’s going on in the actual economy. Whatever his mental state is, [Trump] has achieved more for working Americans in one year than his predecessors did in eight, or 16, frankly.”
Hilton’s comments contradict reports of Cameron and Obama’s “transatlantic bromance” in office. The two leaders were often pictured together playing ping-pong or golf, eating or watching a basketball game. “Yes, he sometimes calls me bro,” Cameron once said of Obama. But their special relationship deteriorated and by 2016 Obama was lamenting the chaotic state of Libya and claiming in an interview that Cameron had been “distracted by a range of other things”.
The former advisor to David Cameron, Steve Hilton, claims Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury, ignores the achievements of Donald Trump.
Hilton, a former advertising executive, is thought to be behind a host of early Cameron measures and photo opportunities, including “hug a hoodie” and the husky expedition to Alaska to popularise his “Vote Blue, Go Green” message.
He was satirised in the British sitcom The Thick of It, in which the character Stewart Pearson, a spin doctor, was described as “the eco-friendly, media-savvy, blue-sky-thinking director of communications for the Cabinet Office.”
Hilton clashed with Cameron during the EU referendum battle when he said the government had been told it would be “impossible” for it to meet its immigration targets while the UK was still a member of the EU. Since he left Cameron’s team in 2012, he has often found himself at the centre of political controversy, including the time he failed to denounce the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen in a Guardian interview, and when he compared calls for gun control after the Las Vegas shooting to the Muslim travel ban.
Hilton backed Trump over Hillary Clinton for the US presidency. “Every supporter of President Trump should understand one thing about this book: the argument that Donald Trump is mentally unfit is not Michael Wolff’s opinion, it’s the opinion of some of the people closest to the president,” he said in his show.
“I said back in the summer when I first learned what these aides and hangers-on were saying to Wolff, that the president is surrounded by too many two-faced, self-serving muppets who say one thing in public and another behind the president’s back.”
A spokesman for Cameron said: “This does not represent David Cameron’s opinion at all and could not be further from the truth. David Cameron’s views on President Obama – whether in public or in private – are the same: he considers Barack Obama a hugely accomplished president, a great partner for Britain and a good friend to our country and to him personally.”